Seeds to Nigeria

I have written before about how fun it is to be working in the community garden plot and have people come up and chat. I always cherish the exchanges. Our neighborhood is wonderfully diverse with people from around the world. Today as I was watering, a woman in a beautiful apple green dress stopped in front of my plot and said in a distinctive Nigerian accent, “Wonderful, this is just wonderful.” She then commented on the large tomato crop. In response I mentioned how much I enjoy growing vegetables and how the direct sun has contributed to the tomato bounty. She replied that this is thanks to God. She then asked me if I had kept any dried tomato seeds. I said I had not but would she like a tomato so she could harvest the seeds? After walking around the gate and giving her my largest tomato we exchanged “goodbyes.” Then, as she went on her way, she paused, turned, and said, “The seeds are going to Nigeria. Wish me luck!” So, for that charming woman who brightened my day,  I wish nothing but luck, happiness and a bountiful harvest.

Here is a photo round up of the community garden this week:

Me Watering

Black Beauty Eggplant

Calvin Enjoying the View

Eggplant, Peppers and Tomatoes


Community Garden Plot Day #3

Day #3: Planted Tomatoes, Egglants and Peppers

Ta da!!!! I am downright proud of my community garden plot. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are now in. Nearly all the supportive cages are installed. I am short by a few but I can add them next weekend. I planted some swiss chard seeds at home on the porch so they can be planted in the plot when they are big enough. I will also plant some basil seedlings next to the tomatoes. There are some growing strong in my window frame so these can be transplanted into the community garden plot in a few weeks.

At home on my patio, I planted some tomatoes in containers (patio tomatoes).  I also transplanted lettuce seedlings that I started on my front porch, as well as swiss chard seedlings, in the cold frame area.  I took off the plastic sheets that made up the cold frame roof to allow air and rain to come in but kept the wood frame in place. That way come the fall, I can simply replace the plastic sheeting roof and have a fully intact cold frame.   In the community garden plot and at home, everything was in before the thunderstorms that came later and watered everything down.

Lettuce Transplants

Baby Robin in Rock Creek Park

We went hiking through Rock Creek Park and like last weekend, it is robin season.  We came across a baby robin being very still in a tree.  He was trying not to be noticed.  At first I lamented that I did not have my camera.  But then decided to try my Blackberry camera for the first time.  It worked!  So I got a great photo. We looked around and saw the baby robin’s mother watching carefully nearby.  So we left gently and quickly as to not stress the baby and mother too much.

Gardening and Rock Creek Park. A wonderful Sunday.

Community Garden Plot Day #2

Calvin working the soil

HUGE day at the Community Garden plot yesterday.   Although the forecast was for thunderstorms, we only had overcast skies, coolness and an ocassional slight rain spray off and on.  So it was a perfect day for all the tilling by hand and planting.  We started the day at the local co-op where we picked up bags of Maryland’s own Leafgro soil conditioner.   Then we stopped by the hardware store to pick up a large fork tool to help breakup the clay.  That is what our plot neighbor was using with good success.  There were few other gardeners out, perhaps because of the forecast, but another plotter and we were there all day.  A few others popped in and out throughout the day.  The result:  everything is tilled and the homemade compost and purchased Maryland’s own Leafgro soil conditioner worked in.  The only thing left to prepare is a small four inch strip where I will install a bean support trellis and plant peas.  That will be next weekend’s job.

Breaking down the clay clumps by hand

The day was not all work, however, it was also a bit social.  It was fun to meet other plotters, ask question (e.g., which way is north as my tall plants need to face north as to not shade the shorter plants), and share ideas.  An elderly man stopped by to see what was going on when he was driving by and saw some of us working the plots. We let him know about the community garden and he ended up sticking around chatting about politics and life for the next two hours as we worked. He reminded me very much of my father who died a few years ago well over the age of 90, yet as alert, sharp and active as he had been when I was a child.  The man did not mince words when he disapproved of how we divided the plot in half, using wood chips as a path.  He convinced me to move over my current wood chip path as well as add a second path so it would be easier to tend to and harvest the tomatoes.  So, aside from the fact that I was on my hands and knees moving over wood chips with Calvin by my side asking why I did not think of this in the first place??,  I was thankful the man had stopped by as I think he saved me a lot of stress down the harvesting road. Then another plotter stopped by and we chatted about tomato rows and maybe it would be better if I staggered by tomatoes.  So I dug some tomato plants up and did the stagger thing.

Working in the compost

Through all this labor, I was ever so grateful that it was overcast and fairly cool. Doing all the digging, tilling and planting in hot humid weather would not have been as much fun 🙂   Oh! Another great thing. In a previous post I mentioned how our plot had not been tilled by the county as other plots had been and how I thought that made more work for us.  Actually, I learned from another plotter that when the county tilled the other plots, the ground had not been dry. So the tilling resulted in huge soil clots that dried and resulted in rock-like clumps, nearly impossible to break down. The skipped county tilling meant we were rock-like soil clump free!  So, in the end, we were so very lucky that we just had regular old clay to contend with. Another stroke of fortune related to the community garden to follow a growing list of other strokes of fortune that started when we got the plot to being with!

Community Garden Plot!

Community Garden

Today I hit the lottery.  Literally.  I am so excited that it is hard to type.  I have been on a high all day. Why you ask?  I got a COMMUNITY GARDEN PLOT!!!!!  (Read that last line with screeching and excited yelps in order to capture the full effect of my excitement.)  I have always wanted one and intended to get one.  When there was discussion a year or so ago about one going in across the street from us in the park, I was all for it. Unfortunately, I learned that I was the only one and our entire street had been in opposition.

So, I was driving to work today and listening to NPR.  Now that the peace institute for which I work has moved into its new headquarters, my commute involves an amazingly relaxing short drive through Rock Creek Park.  I love the commute, seeing the beautiful trees, creek and greenery.  Being able to listen to NPR is a huge bonus part of the commute.  So, the NPR story was about a new community garden in my area.  This was the first time I heard about it and was so excited to think that maybe my dreams of a plot would come true.

So I quickly called my husband Patrick using my mobile phone (okay, I admit while I was commuting but I was stopped in traffic, I swear) and asked him to quickly check into it.  He did and called me back (okay, again, I was commuting but spoke using the speakerphone and alas, once again, stopped in traffic.)  Patrick reported that the website said that all the plots had been allocated since early this month. My dreams of plot ownership had been dashed moments after they had been created.  So I asked him to contact them and put us on their waiting list.  I figured, oh well, maybe in a year or so……if we are lucky.  Ho hum.

I got to work and went about my business.  Later that afternoon, Patrick forwarded to me an e-mail exchange with the community garden folks.  To make a long story short, just before my husband had sent his request for us to be on the waiting list, someone else had just given up a plot in a different community garden.  So it was offered up to us and off my husband went to secure it at the country office coordinating the community garden.  Okay. It gets even better.  How you ask?  Well, I will tell you.  The community garden referenced in the NPR story was in fact not so close to our house.  But the plot that had just opened up was in a community garden within walking distance from our house! We pass it every day on the way to my son’s school and when we go grocery shopping.  As a matter of fact, just a few days back, we noticed the area and thought maybe a skateboard park or something was going in as the area was newly plowed and circular.   But in fact, it was a new community garden and we were proud plot owners in it. Well, it is times like this that I believe fate shines down upon is in positive and unexpected ways.

The plot will be ready in May and I will be so very ready to begin planting.  I already have visions of bucket loads of tomatoes (so long as they do not get taller than 6 feet and create shade for fellow gardeners,  according to the community garden rules) that I can can for the winter.   Happy happy times.   I will post photos soon.  May the planting begin!

Click on “Pea Pods” for more photos of the Community Garden space