Sunday, May 6, 2012

indeed, it is the only thing that ever has

Last Friday, I prepared a list of tasks that we thought should be accomplished in the next couple of weeks. Anticipating a large number of volunteers from DePaul University, who would help the garden as part of its 2012 Vincentian Service Day, I made an ambitious list of 18 items, adding a number of tasks that I thought would be nice to accomplish, but probably not possible in a single work day.

I am now glad that I made the full task list. Three groups of volunteers arrived on Saturday morning: a dozen or more students from DePaul; at least eight more volunteers from the Second City Dream Team Meetup group; and a number from the large group of people who return to the garden after attending as a member of another group. (I am an alum of the latter group: after first visiting the garden with Chicago Cares in the fall of 2007, I returned the following weekend on my own and never stopped. )

At the end of the workday, we had accomplished all but two of the tasks on our list.

The DePaul students fanned across the garden, wreaking construction and order, leaving promise in their wake. They tied twine trellises for the sweet peas in beds 4 through 6.
They planted radishes (Crimson Giant; French Breakfast; Cherry; and others) in beds 7 through 9, carrots (Tonda de Parigi and Royal Chartenaux) in bed 12, and a border of marigold seeds in bed 13 for the tomato plants that will soon be transplanted there.
They pulled dead flowers and weeds from the front garden. They planted crowns of Martha Washington asparagus throughout the garden, including at the eastern end of the raspberry bed.

They built a brick walkway leading to our rain barrels. And after all of that hard work, they presented the garden with a thank you card.

The Second City folks were equally busy in the eastern part of the garden. Working in beds 15 and 16, they constructed bean tripods out of aluminum poles and trellises out of whatever they could find, including the pair of repeatedly repurposed papasan chair backs that are a personal favorite as a form of plant support. They planted seeds for three varieties of pole beans (Cherokee Trail of Tears, Sultan’s Crescent, and Bountiful) around the trellises before moving to the potato bed.

After repairing the western end of bed 22, the Second City volunteers dug a trench down the middle of the bed and planted sprouted red potato seeds. The DePaul students came along later and planted seed for a border of allysum flowers that we hope will live up to their reputation as potato companion plants.
Our third group focused on bed 19, under the Stanley plum tree. They planted a bewildering array of greens, alternating rows of rapini (broccoli raab), varieties of spinach (Bloomsdale Savoy, Bordeaux, and Monstreux de Virafloy), and Red Giant Mustard.
 Everyone wrapped the newly seeded beds with chicken-wire fencing. We planted so many rows that we ran out of plastic plant labels—a first. We wound up cutting up a couple of seed pots to make labels for some of our rows.

After only a single day of focused work, the garden was transformed from a collection of muddy beds to an array of fenced future homes of vegetables for the pantry. We are well positioned for the growing season.