Sunday, April 19, 2015

18 April: a mound of work

On 17 April, Crosstown Tree Service delivered a huge mound of wood chips to Ginkgo. We welcome these chips: they help us to control weeds, to prevent the walkways from getting muddy, to mulch our fruit trees, and to keep the garden looking tidy.
The cherry tree

The following day, Evelyn, Ivy, Karen, and I were joined by a large group of volunteers: NJ, Alex, Stephen, Holly, Grant, and Jaboukie, students from Second City (a.k.a, the Hardest Working Volunteers in Show Business); Courtney, Patricia, and Eduardo from the Palmer House Hilton; and J.J., Clare, Griffon and his mom, and Taylor and his dad.

We set to work. While some of us distributed wood chips throughout the garden, others transferred to beds compost from both our compost bins and the former "dodecahedron" raised bed that will be the site of our new greenhouse. We cleaned up the front garden; tended our hoophouse-covered beds of radishes, peas, and lettuces; organized our seed library; and repaired a rain barrel.

The weather that day was exhilarating: clear and sunny, but with a chill wind. Our ornamental cherry tree was in its brief but dazzling flower. There are, I think, fewer ways better to spend such a day than to work hard, with like-minded people, on a project whose benefits one cannot contest. With all due respect to Mr. Nash, this is certainly cheaper.

At this point, the only things growing in our garden are overwintered garlic in one of our beds and flowers in the front.
Virginia Bluebell


More tulip


Saturday, April 18, 2015


Cue banjo music.

In the latter part of March and early April, we encountered a garden that showed signs of a long and bitter battering from the winter of 2014-2015. Strewn with detritus (including, apparently, an instance of fly dumping), rusting implements, and piles of rotting tree branches, the property looked more like Grey Gardens than Ginkgo Gardens.

The actual Grey Gardens.

On April 11, a group of our stalwart Chicago Cares volunteers helped us towards putting the garden in order. We harvested compost from our bins and mulched our fruit trees. We touched up the front fence and picked up trash. We even cleared brush--a chore often performed by Chiefs of State.

We have no chain saws, only rusty loppers, so we didn't feel all that presidential.

In addition to painting and cleaning, we also planted our first beds of radishes and lettuces. Because the last frost free date for our region is usually in late April or early May, we protected our beds with temporary hoop houses--polymer sheeting stretched over metal hoops that we arched over the beds.

Thanks to our the efforts of our friends from Chicago Cares, the property looks less like a hoarder's back yard and more like a garden.

March 11 volunteers