Visitors, potential comrades in the field

I opened the garden for an hour, and welcomed one mother with daughter, and another parent and child too. She might be interested next year as she can't garden at her place (too many trees), but she declared herself a novice. I told her we are all learners, and we have some very good teachers!

I sat on a pail and tried to draw the Brussels sprouts. Such plants! The leaf veins really resemble rivers on maps, with smaller branches and brooks flowing in. I tried to count all the sprouts on one plant. There must be around 60, counting all the very little ones and too-big ones. Perhaps 40 to divide now, probably more as time ripens.

On Butterflies and Caterpillars

We've recently discovered several brightly-striped caterpillars feeding on the carrots, fennel and parsley. At first, we assumed them to be Monarch butterfly (which are similarly striped), but this was questioned by an astute garden visitor (we're fortunate to have many).


Upon further investigation, we've identified the caterpillars as those of the Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) also called the American Swallowtail Butterfly. This butterfly's larvae feed on members of the carrot family: Dill, Fennel, Golden Alexanders, Parsley, Parsnips, Queen Anne's Lace and Carrots.


The plants are all right

We're looking pretty good after the great storm. I set right one climbing bean in the Three Sisters bed, and tried to straighten up a more-or-less fallen brussell sprout plant; it needs a stake. One of the people I gave tours to had never seen one. She had never seen a Kohlrabi either!

I opened the garden for an hour-plus, and we had several waves of parents and kids come through, some with grandparents in tow.

I gave one grandmother some basil sprigs, which she much appreciated.

In the photo, you can see this baby girl was transfixed with the hot pepper plant. I myself was attracted and tried to draw it last time, today bringing my color pencils. Not up to the real thing of course. Too bad we (speaking for myself and probably the baby) don't care for the taste of hot peppers!

Watch out for the little spines

I opened the garden for a couple of hours Tuesday.

Again, we had several Asian-Americans coming to visit, including one a couple who had just arrived from Beijing! The man practiced his English on me. They have different gardening customs, which I can't quite repeat. For instance they do not plant cabbages in the spring.

A little later, after Michael had come by with baby Joe, an Indian family visited — a dad and three kids who were very enthusiastic. They asked about several of the crops, including which ones were being grown for what was underground, and the elder girl (9 or 10, maybe?) warned that when we harvest the zucchini, we should be wary of the little spines that could hurt.

Their dad liked our garden and wanted to be in touch with us. He said he is psyched that we are adding to the town's culture, which he, himself, was also doing: He told us about a townwide Scrabble tournament at the library on Wednesday. Unfortunately for us, he said it was closed to those who had graduated high school. 

[Michael P. contributed to Oakes' report.]

Peas for the visitors

Tuesday, I opened the Garden for about an hour and a half, and we had about a dozen visits in that time. One group had 3 adults and five children, all of whom I gave a pod pea pea or two. Michael came by at the end to off a few weeds and talk to one visitor. Emma (his dog) had a drink. This time I tried drawing a squash plant, definitely a challenge. Spied one blossom!

Much better

After my post earlier today about having no visitors yesterday, Oakes must have taken pity on me and shared some of his Pied-Piper-ish abilities with me because today when I returned to do a couple of chores, I had far more visitors. 

One was sort of a drive-by, a woman who mentioned she didn't realize we were there, but who didn't show much more interest as she continued on to her pressing destination.

A couple of mothers, with three kids in tow, stopped to chat, showing lots more interest despite lacking, I would say, a burning desire to get involved themselves next year. Two sons of one mom were only interested in whether my dog, seated serenely outside the gate, was indeed my dog. The older one asked, and I answered. Then the younger one asked, more quietly, but seeking the same knowledge I'd just given out.

Later, a gaggle of youngsters came by, eventually trailed by one adult who may or may not have been related to any of them, asking to come in and interested to know what we were doing. I explained what I could, and offered each a snow pea pod. One wanted to know how to peel it, and another shied away completely. Of those who tried one, I got a bell curve of responses: The youngest boy didn't like his and it ended up first on the ground, then in the compost when I pointed it out. ("Where are the worms?" he asked, quite sagaciously.) A freckled girl liked hers so much she came back after she'd scurried off to declare her affection. The rest were in the middle.

My two purposes in going over were to water the no-grass strip created by the installation of a water line from the street (today was my turn), and I accomplished that, albeit not without watering myself far more than I would have liked to in the process. I guess it takes some practice.

My other purpose was to trim all the weedy/grassy edges of the walkway — it was just bugging me; my push mower wouldn't do the edges and the extension cord for my electric edger is just shy of the three blocks it would need to reach — and I got only maybe 30 percent of it completed.

Part of the reason was that I was using garden shears, the best arrow in my quiver of garden tools but still not very good. The far more formidable reasons was my son Joe, who didn't get enough sleep last night and was in no mood to hang out.

I kept trying to alter his existence in ways that might suit him, but inside the little sunscreen/playhouse I brought for him or in the grass, he just wanted to cry. In the stroller or in the stroller being pushed in circles for motion's sake, he just wanted to cry. 

He was fine as long as I was holding him, but I couldn't hold and edge at the same time.

Radishes split from the rain

I opened the garden at 5:50 last evening and soon left to go to collect produce donations at the farmers' market.

In just my 20 minutes, several intrigued people came by, the adults usually more interested than the children.

When I returned at 15 before 7, Lisa and Bailey and daughter were there. We tried some of the radishes: The regular ones split from the rain like cherry tomatoes, but were good. Of the big ones, one was OK, but the biggest one was riddled with wire worms.

Tuesday when I was there for a moment in time, a man liked our garden but then didn't think the snow fence was so attractive, but I said well, it was recycled and was practical.

Dick today at Johnnies told me that one day this week when he was there, an older woman, an experienced gardener, informed him the collards were ready and should be harvested now, lest they get old and tough.


Alone in the community garden

Only in the most jocular way, I'm starting to question the dispatches of Oakes, who reports frequently on all the visitors he entertains in the garden.

I came by yesterday in the morning — I often glance in on my walks with infant Joe and dog Emma, to admire all "my" handiwork — and ended up staying for an hour, putting out doggie water and pulling out weeds, though I was surprised by how few there were, relative to the real estate.

Even though both the playground and the school playground were packed, not only with kids but with parents (an end-of-year thing, maybe?), I had not one visitor! Either he's cooking the books, or he's far more attractive than I am to those in the area as a potential host and guide. Yes, that must be it.

It's a good thing I did get over there to do some work, because family responsibilities kept me from keeping my early evening plan to meet up for the regular midweek session. When I drove by on the way home to feed Joe, I saw only Lisa toiling away, though I understand others were there for portions of the late afternoon and evening.

Garden variety, of visitors

I stayed at the Garden a couple of hours Friday, going over to the Brackett to converse with teachers and mothers. I showed one teacher around with questions and answers.

Other visitors included children from the Arlington Schools for Children, which shares space with l'Ecole Bilingue, and the kids raced through the garden. There were 9 or so.

A neighborhood gardener who has a plot at Habitat was very praiseworthy of our garden; she lives nearby.

A boy wanted to wash the stickiness off his hands, but my first try at the combo failed, so he found other means by the time I succeeded and relocated him. He thanked me for my effort. He is going to Peru this summer!

I tried to draw some minute wildflowers growing along our back fence. Anyway.

We get visitors

Steven and I shared some time at the garden on a very hot Wednesday afternoon (May 24) but few families came by and they mostly wanted to enjoy the sprinkler and have water for their pails.

About 10 families came by Monday and Tuesday for short periods. One grandfather and small boy entered where the grandfather remarked his charge didn’t like veggies. But upon seeing the red of the radish the boy responded, “But I do like radishes!”

I was on hand Thursday and Friday from 2:30 to 4:30, more or less. On one, two 7-year-old girls walked all the paths as a maze. I showed them the new bean and squash seeds just coming up, and crushed a mint leaf for them to smell.

With a Chinese woman carrying a baby, I exchanged the names of the veggies in our respective languages, and also I gave her a mint leaf and a pea tendril.

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