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Cleveland, OH: The Plot Thickens at Community Gardens

  • Subject: [cg] Cleveland, OH: The Plot Thickens at Community Gardens
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 09:29:28 EDT

The plot thickens at community gardens 

Thursday, April 14, 2005Suzanne Hively
Plain Dealer Garden Editor 
Catherine Murphy and Richard Falk decided last spring to grow their own 
flowers for their late summer wedding. 

So they rented a 20-by-20-foot plot in Kentucky Community Garden, across the 
street from Kentucky School in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood and started 

"We were neither novice gardeners nor experts," Falk said. "We did ask for 
advice, and we got lots of it." 

The garden served two purposes. "House hunting and making plans for the 
wedding were stressful," Falk said, "so the garden was a nice place to go relax and 
play in the dirt. The flowers saved us a lot of money, too." 

They grew bells of Ireland, cosmos, bachelor's buttons and lots of 
sunflowers. "Both of us really, really like sunflowers," Falk said. The ratio in their 
garden was 75 percent flowers for the wedding and 25 percent vegetables. 

As other community gardeners heard about the wedding, they donated more 
flowers. The day before the wedding, friends Jo and Roy Krabs cut the flowers and 
decorated the reception hall. 

"Corny as it sounds, it was really nice." Falk said. "We liked it." 

Falk and Murphy plan to rent a garden plot this summer. This time, the mix 
will be fewer flowers and more vegetables. 

They are not the only couple to grow their own wedding flowers. When Phyllis 
Bambeck's daughter was married a few years ago, she wanted bachelor's buttons. 
Because the wedding was in October, Bambeck kept planting bachelor's buttons 
throughout the summer to make sure she would have enough in October. 

Bambeck, coordinator of Kentucky Garden, has gardened there more than 25 
years and grows a mix of flowers and vegetables. "I always have flowers," she 
said. "I believe in feeding the soul as well as the body." 

Last year, Bambeck grew tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, carrots, beets and 
turnips. "I tried parsnips for the first time. They were enormous, and I didn't 
know when to harvest them." She made root vegetable soup with some of the crop 
and boiled the rest with turnips and carrots. 

Bambeck advises newcomers to realize the garden is a time commitment and not 
just planting seeds, then harvesting vegetables a couple of months later. A 
lot of work is needed in between. 

"If people don't like getting their hands dirty, gardening is not for them. 
If they can, start small and observe the rules of the garden. For example, we 
are organic. If you want to get me on your wrong side, just let me see you with 
a bottle chemical fertilizer or bug spray," Bambeck said. 

People garden for many reasons, said Lynn Gregor of Ohio State University 
Extension. Some enjoy the fresh produce; others appreciate the sense of 
accomplishment that comes from a lush plot. 

Camaraderie and advice from more experienced gardeners are other benefits. 

New and experienced gardeners interested in joining one of the 190 city or 15 
suburban community gardens can contact Ohio State University Extension 
(216-397-6046). The extension service is organizing two workshops this spring to 
help gardeners get started. 

A typical community plot is 10-by-10 or 20-by-20 feet and ranges in price 
from free to $25. A 20-by-20-foot plot is recommended for a family of four, said 

Plots at Kentucky Garden are $10 for the season, plus volunteer time 
maintaining common areas. The two-acre site has 130 20-by-20-foot plots. "We always 
have a few plots available," Bambeck said. 

"First-time gardeners are advised to go smaller so they can take care of 
their gardens," Gregor said. 

Where OSU Extension offers the educational arm of community gardening, 
Cleveland's Summer Sprout program provides soil preparation, plants, seeds and 
fertilizer for groups of five or more city residents through the Division of 
Neighborhood Services. Clevelanders interested in community gardening can call 
Summer Sprout at 216-556-4466. 

Last year, 3,500 people participated in 190 city gardens. 

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: 

shively@plaind.com, 216-999-4554 

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

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