Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Webb City Sentinel 6-5-09

Things are taking shape at the Kids Community Garden. Tomatoes and peppers are in, as are eggplants and sweet potatoes. On Wednesday (if the weather was cooperative – I’m writing this on Monday to meet an early Sentinel deadline), we were to have a new crew of gardeners. In fact, we’re expecting 400 of them during June. Thank goodness the school is providing supervision. To me, those numbers are downright scary. To the school, it’s all in a day’s education.

During summer school, the elementary children are studying famous Missourians –Harry S Truman, Marlon Perkins, Thomas Hart Benton and George Washington Carver. It is the last that brings the children to the garden. As part of their science program, they will be studying about plants, which, of course, was Carver’s main area of study, too. Each week a new group of students will plant marigolds along the edge of the garden.

Why marigolds and why along the edge? It may just be folklore, but marigolds are thought by many gardeners to repel insects, so they plant a perimeter of marigolds as the first line of natural defense. Back when I was a gardener, many years ago, I did that around my small garden.

I loved planting the garden, but didn’t have a lot of interest in weeding. My husband, Phil, was appalled at my overgrown garden and one day, while I was at work, did me the kindness of weeding the garden. He pulled up every single marigold. They weren’t yet flowering and even I had to admit the leaves look suspiciously weedy. Phil hates yard work so he was being generous, if not entirely effective.

In any case, I have to take the word of other gardeners that the method works, because I have no personal experience with it.

The students will be studying at Webster School, just a short walk from the garden, which is west of Madge T. James Kindergarten.

I went out Sunday to turn a planting trench around the garden for our new little growers. I had spoken earlier to Tami Fredrickson about borrowing a tiller but found the ground loose enough to turn easily with a garden fork. When I called Tami to cancel the tiller delivery, she laughed. “You’re using the Fredrickson Farms fitness program.” She said that she has urged others to try the program out at the farm. Work the fields all summer and she guarantees that you’ll loose weight and gain muscle. So far she’s had no takers. Guess they prefer the comfort of places like the Fitness Forum in downtown Webb City. Well-equipped, air-conditioned and accessible 24/7, it is hard to beat with backbreaking labor under a hot sun.

We are very lucky in having several adult volunteers, not afraid of the sun or work, serving as mentors at the garden. Rochelle DeLucia is supervising with assistance from market volunteer Ron Walters and master gardeners Dale Mermoud and Lee Rodriquez, among others. If you know of any children, in 5th grade or up, who would like to be involved, leave their name at the information table at the market.

It looks like strawberry season is coming to an end, long before many of us are ready. Last Friday, we opened with hundreds of quarts of berries. They were sold in about 20 minutes. The tomatoes are going fast, too. But we’re getting a better and better supply of other produce. We expect the Troyers and Lees to have yellow squash and zucchini today. Ted Owens has turnips. The radish supply is terrific. There’s plenty of broccoli and other early crops.

And don’t forget what the Ag Department likes to call value-added, jams, jellies, and baked goods. On Friday folks were lined up to buy pastries from Bert Ott. His chocolate covered pretzels are proving very popular, as are his other delicacies. If you’d like a little taste of Bavaria, check out his stand.

Today lunch is all-you-can-eat chili, plus dessert & drink - $6. Jack & Lee Ann Sours play from 11 - 1.

Don’t forget, we start our weekly Saturday market tomorrow from 9 to noon. We have the Missouri Mountain Gang from Ozark playing bluegrass. They put on a great show. Hazel’s Bakery will be cooking up breakfast to order until 11.

On Tuesday, Joplin Little Theatre runs Cooking for a Cause and Rob Pommert will play from 11 to 1.

Now you have three market days to choose from and music and a meal at every market. And the market will just get more and more produce with each day.