Your weekly update on all things compost (and all sorts of other things going on at the Galvez Garden)

Happy Sunday, y’all!

So here’s the thing about working a community garden; some days are great, some days are less than great. What do I mean? Well, everyday something new happens. Sometimes the things that happen are great, like observing growth on a new budding plant. Sometimes things are less than great, like seeing a plant show signs of malnourishment or worse, witnessing a plant die off. Even in a completely controlled environment, nature is going to do her thing, and with that comes both joys and sorrows. Today started off with the latter of the two experiences.

Upon arrival to the garden I noticed one of my logs had spray paint on it. Not that big of deal, it was a random log, home to a complete hundred termites, so I really had no attachment to the thing.

But still, it was odd. I hollered to my husband, “Baby, I think we were tagged! How bizarre!” It wasn’t until further inspection that I realized how hard we’d been hit. Our garden was vandalized over the evening.

The spray paint wasn’t just on my one sad log, a dead chunk of wood that was acting as a home to insects, no. Unfortunately the tagging was extensive and even worse, it wasn’t on my tacky hand painted signs or our building structures. Those could have at least been painted over. No. The tags of red oil-based spray paint were on the living, healthy and mature trees on the property.

My heart sank when I saw it. To add insult to injury, our new seed library was carelessly disturbed- seeds were unnecessary ripped open- for what purpose, I do not know. My hand shovel was broken in half. The sidewalk was also spray painted, but not as badly as the trees. The garden wasn’t trashed, but the damage was done. That’s what I’d call a “less than great” start of the day.

Seeds randomly spread and the culprit left on site

Luckily, it was just that, the start of the day.

I pulled out the compost bins, like I do every Sunday, and cleaned up the shenanigans as best I could for the time being. Rather than focus on the destruction, I picked beans while calling it in to the local non-emergency line of our district’s police department. We went home and I regrouped.

After some research I learned that oil based paints (like the ones used in spray paint) are seriously harmful to trees. Knowing I didn’t want to use chemicals on my beloved trees, I went out in search of citrus based degreaser cleaning solution. Apparently with some elbow grease and a good soaking, this was the best remedy with the least amount of stress to clean graffiti off of trees. You scrub in a counter clockwise movement, and spray with water. So, I got my supplies and prepared myself emotionally to give it a go.

The universe is a funny thing. I really believe it winks at us, sometimes when we most need it, if we’re tuned in enough to read the signs. With heavy heart and my supplies I pulled up to the garden and the universe was smiling at me. Two little boys were playing in the remains of mulch mountain. Their dad was resting in the bench I made under the tree. To me, the universe winked. As if to say everything was going to be alright, when I arrived children were playing in a site I created and a dad was enjoying the scene after dropping of his compost. What we’ve made is beautiful, and I just needed to do some spring cleaning.

I’m happy to report, after two trips and maybe just shy of two hours we were able to remove the spray paint from the trees. Enough that I am confident the trees won’t be under any serious threat from the spray paint. It’s not perfect, but I’d prefer close enough over perfect, rather than risking the health of the tree for aesthetics. Again, I operate a community garden that is not in a completely controlled environment. Our garden is open to the people and that means there is no such thing as perfect, just a continual strive towards better.

On that note, the day may have started not so great, but it ended pretty awesome. We harvested the largest beans we’ve grown so far. We gave the trees a bath and learned some stuff about why one shouldn’t spray paint a tree, and how to intervene to keep trees healthy. We had a family drop off compost and decide to stay, because they enjoyed the environment we’ve been working so hard to create. That’s pretty special in my book. In addition, we started our second compost pile. We officially have a two bin compost system in play! That alone is enough to make it a “good day” at the garden.

This week’s haul

So long story short, when it’s a less than great day, if you can do anything to change the trajectory, do so. I’m so pleased we were able to do just that at the garden today! I’m not saying I’m thrilled we were tagged, I’m just saying I’m pleased we were able to clean it up up and turn things around. Thanks to everyone who contributed to our drop off today… believe it or not, it made my day.

Compost bin #2 with nitrogen
Compost bin #2 with carbon
New two bin system… woohoo!

Published by Lissie

Artist, dreamer, doer. Mother and wife. Environmentalist and inspired idealist. Making in the Big Easy.

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