Heat Wave

Some may say it's crazy to take on a brand new, never-been-dug community garden plot the weekend before you move into the first home you've ever owned, and the first weekend of the year that the temperature hits 90 degrees. Crazy maybe, but we did it!

The plot in the picture above is the finished product. It's in a brand new community garden, McCormick Community Gardens. The cool thing about it is that just a year ago this was a highway on-ramp (notice the intersection of Hwy 151 and Aberg Avenue in the distance?). The city decided to close off highway access, and the community gardeners took over. On a whim, I asked if they had any spots left, and what do you know, they had two! I took the sunnier of the two, and the closest of all of them to the highway. If this isn't urban gardening, I don't know what is!

Here the view from our plot looking over the other plots, toward the dead end of McCormick Ave. There are 24 16'x26' plots all in a long skinny row - ours is at the very end. At the other end is a big pile of compost that the city brought for the gardens. The existing soil in the area is what the road crew filled in with - extremely poor, rocky, and full of clay. They planted grass and covered it with some straw-like cover, and also some biodegradable landscape cloth that looks like string. Planting our plot entailed lugging many wheelbarrows full of compost down the path, and mixing it with the incredibly hard rocky ground.

Did I mention it was 90 degrees and extremely humid this weekend?

I couldn't have done it without this man. We signed the paperwork to get the plot on Saturday afternoon, and Stanley, ever the over-achieving wonderful boyfriend that he is, started work on the digging just a few hours later.

I helped by bringing wheelbarrows with compost and marking how I wanted the beds to be.

It was 9pm when we finally left the plot on Saturday, and Stanley had dug up four nice big beds.

I came back on Sunday afternoon to finish lugging compost and to plant some seeds. All the wheelbarrows that belonged to the garden were being used, so instead I found a bunch of the straw stuff that the landscape crews had left and defined some paths. I scraped up all the grass by the roots before I layed the straw down, but I didn't worry about loosening the sod since I don't want anything to grow on the paths anyway. I also dug up a nice little circular bed in the middle, and formed hills in two of the beds that already had enough compost.

I came back Monday morning to finish. Six more loads of compost worked in, the final two beds formed, and seeds planted. There are two kinds of winter squash in the bed on the upper right, a French honeydew type melon and lemon cucumbers in the bottom right, two types of watermelon on the top left, and two types of muskmelon in the bottom left. I planted Giant Russian sunflowers in the middle and a small patch of okra in the bottom right bed near the path.

Whew! That was a lot of work. I went out at 7am on Monday. I was done by 9, and about as hot and sweaty as a person can be. there's something really nice about sweating so much, and there's nothing that feels as good as the cold shower I took afterward! If only I had had some of those watermelons to help cool me off.....

I chose plants that won't take a lot of upkeep since I'm also moving into my new house this spring, and I'll have plenty of other things to keep me busy, including the Main Street Garden:

Here are the potatoes on Friday afternoon before the hot weather hit.....

... and here they are on Monday morning. See the difference? They're growing by the day.

Since I knew that the hot weather was coming, I decided to plant as many of my seedlings as possible on Friday afternoon to spare them the shock of transplanting in extremely hot weather. Here they are - kind of sad, but alive and vigorous. I wasn't too happy with my seed starting this year - I think it was too cold for them in the basement, plus I didn't use the highest quality potting soil.

I put the tomatoes in the bed behind the potatoes, next to my sugar snap peas. There are three varieties here: Candy Stripe, Black Cherry, and Ox Heart.

As you can see, they're not too big, but they're compact and not gangly at all. I have no doubt that they'll do well. They love the hot weather, and they're already noticeably bigger just a few days after planting.

In this sad bed of greens I planted two Rosa Bianca eggplant starts that I bought and one of the purple tomatillos that I started by seed.

Here's the other bed of greens. I'll be harvesting this for salad this week! The dill that perennially comes up in this bed is coming back. I'll leave some for pickles, but I'll add some baby dill to the salad as well. Mmmmm..... the perfect thing for hot weather.

Little broccolis plugging along. This picture was taken on Friday afternoon, and these guys too are now noticeably bigger.

These are the only seedlings that I haven't put in yet. They're Corno di Toro peppers. Sad I know (especially considering the seeds were planted back in March), but they're alive, and I'm confident that they'll grow and fruit. I probably won't use all of them, just the three or four mostvigorous.

Here's a shot of Ben and Erica's garden on Friday afternoon.....

.... and here it is on Monday morning after Mom, Dave, and I spent some time cleaning it up and planting.

This bed is planted in carrots, beets, rutabaga, and bush beans.

Cucumbers in the bed in the back, summer squash in the foreground. With the hot weather, the seeds shouldn't have any trouble at all germinating.

Almost done, but first I have to show you how the fruit trees at the Main Street garden are doing.....

Baby peaches! As you can see, the leaves are having some issues - bugs maybe? The fruit are forming well however. We'll see what happens.

The cherry tree is loaded with little green fruits. We'll be eating cherry pie before you know it!

I don't know if I've mentioned this Concord grape arbor yet. It didn't produce anything last year, but this year.....

It's loaded with little baby grape clusters. It's going to be a good season!

I can't end without sharing this picture of my happy chickens enjoying some frozen peas. I cleaned out the freezer and found some old bags that Dave had been using as ice packs. It was the perfect icy chicken treat on a hot hot day!

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