Monday, October 21, 2013

Applause, please, for the Master Gardeners

Here's the core group of Master Gardeners who have moved mountains this year on the Lucas County Historical Society Museum campus. They have been digging, tilling, planting, weeding and watering since early spring with extraordinary results. So let's have a round of applause for (from left) Jim Secor, Kay Brown, Kathy Willits, Angi Garton and Hugh Howe.

We got together Sunday afternoon for fall chores, including the planting of many flowering bulbs in the big new bed that sweeps down alongside the stairway to nowhere south of the Stephens House. I brought along seed garlic harvested at home earlier in the season and Jim and I took that down to the heirloom garden at the base of the hill, cleared and tilled last week.

There also was a big wedding (six bridesmaids!) in progress at Otterbein Church Sunday afternoon with reception following in the museum barn. So it was a busy place --- and we did our best to look atmospheric and stay out of the way. But like making hay, you've got to garden when conditions are right so the work had to continue.

In addition to moving mountains of soil, the gardeners also this year moved a mountain of entrenched yuccas that had taken over this area not far from the street. Some remain, others have been moved to less traveled places where they'll be less likely to spear guests and some now are compost. If you've ever worked with yuccas, you'll know that it sometimes seems as if dynamite is going to be needed to dislodge them. So this was quite a job.

The heirloom garden was plagued a little last spring by weather conditions, but turned out beautifully before the season was done. Six varieties of heirloom tomatoes were the most prolific producers, but the melons did well, too. Nothing against the store-bought varieties, but the almost-forgotten flavors of both the heirloom melons and tomatoes outpaced commercial varieties by a mile. There also were peppers, cabbage, scallions, a row of basil, beans, a giant sunflower or two and old-fashioned garden flowers.

Three-sisters plantings of Indian corn, squash and climbing beans were the most fun to talk about with guests and Jim has plans to refine that feature next year. Jim also built a compost container at the base of the hill, which will come in handy, and already is at work as efforts begin to reclaim our prairie patch.

This strip was established several years ago and had just begun to flourish when a city sewer project built due north up the valley practically demolished it. Now we hope to get rid of invasive grasses and get it back on its feet.

It's been a great year both outside and in at the museum, and we're grateful to all who are a part of this continuing (and never-ending) effort.


Norm Prince said...

As a fellow Master Gardener I appreciated your thanks for those you have in Lucas County that have done so much for your historical setting. Many folks take little notice how much work is involved to keep the plants, trees and vegetable going. To have that crew take on the museum work is a blessing and I also offer them my thanks. Also nice to hear that the buildings are still being used (wedding) and not just displays siting and waiting for visitors.
Peace - norm

Anonymous said...

As a gardener for many years I understand all the hard work that goes into this. Want to thank those who keep the historical grounds so pretty and true to our "roots"! Truly a labor of love. Also love this blog, thanks to you too Frank!
Mary Ellen Mart

Anonymous said...

when i make it back to chariton and drive around to admire all the beauty and the improvements going on i love it all, all of you are doing a very great job, looks really nice. Makes a person proud to say they are from Chariton, Iowa.