Just a quick note that we’re almost ready for the return of the students. Groups are contacting us to book time in the garden for fall and the bountiful squash just keep on growing so fast that it’s hard to keep up with them. Thanks to those few hardworking souls who have helped keep the garden together this summer.
This past Sunday found me praying, head down in the weeds. Literally. The area near the garden gate has become a bit overgrown and keeping up with the garden space in the summer is all about triage! That said, the entrance does set the stage, and I dislike presenting our worst parts first. Finding our native wildflowers amidst the native summer weeds was a bit thrilling. They’ve really done quite well this past year and the exterior beds have been quite beautiful, more than ever before. The work was a bit of the slog and there was no one about, but the day was brightened when a passing woman walking three dogs tossed a breezy “the garden looks beautiful” over her shoulder and I realized again how many people see and enjoy the community garden. Sometimes when you get too close all you see are the flaws and it takes a stranger to remind you how wonderful something is.
Wednesday morning dawned bright and sunny, a rarity in recent weeks, and scores of campers from the wonderful Triple C camp visited the garden. A few weeks ago a mostly different set of campers had visited, but a few of the campers had been to the garden before and came back like old friends. Plenty of camp counselor were in attendance as well.
Together we tackled one bed so overgrown that the weeds tickled some of the camper’s chins. By the time they were done the bed was completely cleared, except for the healthy asparagus patch set to one side, and a few squash plants that had been living among the green exuberance.
Thanks to Ben, Alexandra, Coach and all the other staff and campers for their sweat and diligent volunteerism. We’ll now be able to get that bed planted for fall!
Also, I was able to run some fresh squash and cukes over to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Wednesday. The food bank reported that they’ve been getting some good donations of locally grown fresh vegetables. Way to go, Charlottesville!
We’ve had good weather this summer so far, perhaps a bit hotter and drier than one would prefer for the garden, but not too bad. The native plants in particular that we’re planted last year are doing marvelously. Because we dug in plants that are adapted for this region, once they rooted well there isn’t much to do except sit back and enjoy them. In particular I love watching the eager grasp of the passionflower vines as they pull towards the top of our fence, their fragrant purple and yellow faces smiling along with mine at all the bees that buzz excitedly nearby. The smell is heavenly and reaches out to turn your head a good five feet away.
A heartfelt thank you to PVCC employees Chris Wyatt, Jennifer Scott, Hunter Moore, and Tom Clarkson. Chris and his daughter Georgia are newcomers to the garden. They’ve weeded, mowed, planted, done work on the irrigation system, and helped neaten up the garden area this summer. Jennifer is club co-advisor and has steadfastly been working in the garden, beating back the mugwort, staking the tomatoes, and generally doing a bit of everything. Next week she’s going to lead a volunteer group of 40 or so summer campers through the garden for a few morning hours. Hunter has volunteered to help with the design and implementation of the garden’s irrigation system, including finding funding for necessary parts. Tom Clarkson has been a supporter for many years and, when he sees the weeds getting a little high, kindly donates his superb little tiller to the cause. There are others to thank too, but I think that shall be left for another blog post.
Interested in getting involved and have a few hours free? We’re still looking for volunteers to work with…
Enjoy your gardening!
We are deeply indebted to the wonderful teams from Madison House that have volunteered in the garden this past spring and fall. Led by Project Leaders Varun Kavuru and Chris Porter, one team came to the garden on Friday afternoons at 3:00 and another team came on Sundays at noon. That’s pretty great dedication! Thank you to all of them for their hard work and spirit of fun in the garden. We would not have anywhere near the garden that we have were it not for their efforts.
Sitting here tonight at my kitchen table, tea in hand and the dark penned away, I’d like to reach out for a moment and send best wishes and prayers to a young man who visited the garden only once. His name is Andrew W. and he has the kind of good nature and infectious spirit that makes it a pleasure to share space with him.
Last February I had that opportunity when Andrew visited his brother Henry at UVA and journeyed along when Henry came over to PVCC’s Community Garden with his Madison House team. Henry has been a wonderful volunteer over the last two years, hardworking to the extreme and with a ready smile. He’s brought much to the garden; on this occasion he brought a brother. I enjoyed chatting with the two of them and admired their easy banter while they both worked hard. Theirs was the kind of cheerful, optimistic outlook that pairs so powerfully with a pick up your wheelbarrow and heft it work ethic.
You can see a picture of them among other volunteers in the blog entry from February, 2014. Recently, Henry shared with me that Andrew has been badly injured. I don’t know many of the particulars, but I do know that life is often rough, swift, and unkind. Let us wish this man strength in the midst of his trial and our hope for the fullest recovery possible.
I don’t have Andrew’s email address, but if you wish to send along your thoughts and good wishes, Henry’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past Saturday we were joined by a group of volunteer from the University of Virginia as part of Cav’s Care through Madison House. Together we continued the work of readying the garden beds for spring planting and weeding the native plant beds. It was just the kind of beautiful morning that makes being outdoors so wonderful. Singing birds, springy soil, and just the right shade of blue in the sky. Buds were swelling and leaves unfurling, all in a silent ode to the wonders of life. Pretty soon those first asparagus will be ready to reveal themselves.
We also planted early(ish) potatoes. Thank you to all the bright and cheerful volunteers who came out Saturday. It was a pleasure spending the morning with you!
There’s a lot going on in the garden these days. Our turnips are nearly ripe and delicious. We’ll leave most of them in the ground to continue growing and sweetening. If you haven’t tried turnips, you should. Once tasted, they’re unforgettable. Here’s a picture of club President Andrew harvesting a few.
We’re racing to ripen our last fall crop of radishes, beets, lettuce, etc., trying to get them to grow enough before the fall frost sets in. We also need to sow our cover crops before it gets too cold. I’ve just been reading in the newest Mother Earth news about using Austrian winter peas as a cover crop and am excited to try them out.
On Sunday, September 21st the UVA Indian Student Association made a return visit the PVCC Community Garden and we much pleased to have hosted them. A few hens from David and Parker Lerman’s home garden were present and largely cuddled. PVCC Environmental and Horticulture Club President Andrew Harriman and Club co-advisor Jennifer Scott were also working in the garden. We had a great time. The students were there to honor Gandhi through service, and did a great job prepping bed number seven so that we can put it into service growing vegetables for the hungry in our community before frost hits.
Thank you ISA for all your hard work on Sunday!
What do you do when you’ve got a seriously overgrown garden bed? You call in the calvary, of course!
We had been grooming one bed for the possibility of hens, but never got the hens… so the bed grew rather overgrown. Some of the weeds were over the heads of visitors – and nine year old Parker. See our Facebook page for amazing before and after pictures.
They also weeded some of our blooming and seriously beautiful native plant beds on the exterior of the garden.
Thanks all! Come on back anytime, your enthusiasm was wonderful to behold.