Adventure, Change, Community Garden, Dogs, FUN!, Garden, New York City, Recycle, Save The World, South Bronx, Spring, Things to Do

Project: Community Garden 6.20.14


Holy Mother of Pearl is it hot out! This week has been an up and down weather event! On this beautiful last day of Spring we decided to venture out to fill in the mystery hole (yes, it’s as dirty as it sounds) and fix the places that were plowed over by a city truck. Yes. A truck drove into our garden and did this:

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Of course we can’t be too mad because the truck is very wide and we are probably (most likely ) trespassing. The flowers that were run over seem to be okay, but we are considering transplanting them to avoid any future destruction. They also seem to be thirsty in their current location, so that is also a factor. Perhaps next time.

I popped over to Union Square Market on Wednesday to pick up some new additions. The garden is looking a little yellow these days, so we were hoping to add some purple, white, and green to make it a well-rounded display. Here is what happened next:

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Shasta Daisy “Lacrosse” and a bunch of New Guinea Impatiens of various colors (NOT YELLOW!).

Today we vowed to get that hole built up. I carried our supplies over to the heap (minus the 5 gallon jug of water that Captain Clam so victoriously lugged) and a palette was recovered from the back of Dino Gadget (our pick-up truck). I had been on an adventure to rescue a neighbor and her groceries when I spotted a pile of pallets outside of a Burger King on 149th Street. I dragged the Clam there later that evening and we recovered a few of these wooden boxes for our little diamond in the rough project. This might be the only time that Captain Clam ever said “Thank you Burger King!”

So we toiled and dug and raked and sweat into the evening. It’s still amazing to me how an hour and a half and a pallette filled with some plants can change your day and the neighborhood that surrounds you. It was so depressing walking by that giant hole everyday, and the inner sense of fulfillment is so grossly satisfying that I can’t even begin to describe it. Seven (7) people stopped in their cars/trucks/vehicular transports and shouted the most encouraging things to us. “Good Job!” “Nice Garden!” “Keep it up!” Maybe it’s just Friday and everyone is driving home and are in a good mood, but it was so meaningful coming from strangers. I don’t even know if they live in the neighborhood.

Today’s achievements include filling in the strange hole, adding a new palette garden, repairing the damage done by the drive-by, and fixing the moat system, which was working well until the flash flood rain storm came upon us last week. We have also befriended the car shop downstairs, who lets me use their hose and bathroom when it’s absolutely necessary.

Without further rambling here is our progress:

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WAY BEFORE!

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WAY AFTER!

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BEFORE (MAX!)

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WAY BEFORE!

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DURING.

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AFTER.

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BEFORE.

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AFTER.

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GLAMOUR SHOT.

We still can’t believe we are actually doing this! We are covered in dirt and enjoying a well earned can of cheap beer. We can’t reiterate just how much we love the South Bronx and  what is is like living here and working out way into a very unique community.

Stay tuned for more #Garden134 updates, as there will be more to come very soon.

 

 

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Adventure, Community Garden, Dogs, Drink, FUN!, Garden, joy, Life, Overload, Save The World, Spring, Things to Do, Today was Awesome

Project: Community Garden 6.7.14

What a fun fucking day! I had visited the Union Square Farmer’s Market again yesterday and picked up the items below from Patchogue’s own Fantastic Garden. I was a little mad, so I felt that I deserved flowers out the wazoo. I may have gone overboard… totally worth it.

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Today’s lovelies include Early Sunrise Tickseed, John Proffit Ice Plant Delosperma, Red Valerian Jupiter’s Cock (just kidding, Jupiter’s Beard) Centranthus, Early Sunrise Coreopsis, Zagreb Threadleaf Coreopsis, and shrubs that I don’t know the name of.

We woke up late today, probably a little hung over from the mystery shot of whiskey from a good friend down at the pub last night. We motivated, and spent nearly 3.5 hours in the garden today. Captain Clam was quite the machine, and I am so happy to have his motivation (and other things) in my life. Our “grand garden” is becoming a reality, and he has just been the best these past few weeks. Considering that my back is “out”, The Captain has had the greatest enthusiasm and has been supportive with the garden and other home stuffs. He hasn’t  yet had to wipe my ass, but I’m sure he would if I needed it.

ANYWAY, today was Fucking awesome. I can’t even begin to explain how many people we met. Most people had the same questions, which include:

Are you doing this for yourself?

Are you funding this yourself?

What are you doing?

Why are you doing this?

Is this for the city?

Do you have a cigarette?

Of course most people were full of compliments and very happy to have the neighborhood being cleaned up and respected. Our answers to the questions were so easy.

No. We are not doing this for ourselves. As much as this benefits us as two people who seek relief from our own vices, we really want to make a nice, safe place for a community of dog walkers, grandmas, babies, toddlers, grown ass men, hopefuls, dreamers, and anyone else who needs a place to go and get lost and find themselves in nature… one little flowering plant at a time.

Yes. We are funding this ourselves. We have spent just under $100 for what we have already done. We look for things in the trash and gladly accept donations from our neighbors, which have included 0ld baby crib pieces and water from the hose. The garden is community based, and will be suported by the community via labor, donation, and whatever can be salvaged from what others are discarding. Maybe that’s gross to you, but please know that we wear gloves and aren’t particularly picky.

We are making a garden. We are playing in the dirt. Today there was some day-drinking from paper bags going on. We are trying to make a place for people to feel welcome and think “Oh hey, that’s really nice!” We are doing a community service. It isn’t even court appointed. It’s a little selfish, but at the same time, it’s for everyone. We WANT you to come and visit the garden… spend time there, share your stories, come and help…. be a part of something important.

We are doing this because: WHY THE FUCK NOT? How many people do you know who live in a huge city who have a yard or garden? Nature is so much more important than most people realize. To be able to transform a desolate, littered space is such a blessing for me and Captain Clam. We revel in the dirty work  and hope to inspire other to follow suit.

No. This is not for the city. You’d have to be a real asshole to reprimand anyone for planting flowers and making a space beautiful. If you do, then you are a DICK… and probably don’t have a grandma. I feel sorry for you.

Yes. We can share a cigarette. Always.

So. Today’s journey started with a hangover and the passion of a Clam. I might sound a little wispy and in love, but that’s only because I am. Today’s gardening started with a few beers and a gross amount of hope. We headed out and saw some people sitting under the overpass getting their car repaired. I thought that they were BBqQ-ing, but I was sorely incorrect.

We said hello and started digging, pretending they weren’t there. At some point, we needed beer, and I ran to the store, making sure I asked everyone in the vicinity if they were in need of anything. I ended up buying a bunch of waters for the mechanics, and some beers for the gardeners. After I returned, brown bag and all, I made sure to give the gal waiting with her boo a giant beer. My only words were: “Just take it.” And she obliged. I think her boyfriend was happier than she was. She may have also needed a massage.

Long story short (as if that is ever a real thing), we kicked ass in the garden. We met so many people, a lot of them neighbors, who were very interested in helping out and had advice on different programs we could get involved in to receive free supplies and plants, etc. We met a neighbor who lives below us and we are getting ready to head down there right now to share miojitos and horror stories.

Today was fantastic. We had received an old crib from our neighbor, which The Captain made into stairs:

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That’s a baby crib.

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That’s a baby crib.

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That’s a baby crib.

There was a ton of progress today. We planted the flowers and some shrubs, and realized that the “soil” was just sand and rock clean fill. We built a moat/irrigation system for watering, and are fairly confident that it will be effective.

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A River Runs Through It

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A River Runs Through It

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A River Runs Through It

There was a particular amount of testing done on the new watering system, with at least 3 runs to the local car shop to gather water in a 5 gallon Great Bear Jug.  We are confident that the plants and flowers will thrive with the new configuration. We also hope that they don’t drown to death.

I have a lot to say today, and don’t have enough puts-pa to get it all out. We were in the garden for 3x longer than usuall. We met 1 million people. We are sore and sweaty and sunburnt. And we are ridiculously happy. At this point, all I can do is show you this:

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BEFORE

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AFTER

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PROGRESS

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A Sexy Clam!

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An exhausted Clam… still sexy.

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We are about 10 bags of garbage, 2 palettes, 1 baby crib and $80 in plants deep.

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Just for fun, this is where we started almost 4 weeks ago. It might not look like much to you, but it’s pretty awesome. And yes, I wish we still had Max here.

 

Lots of progress going on here today. We look forward to showing you more. Please stay tuned for more #Garden134 Updates, and keep it real. That’s important. Time to go tend to this sunburn. Heyo!

Also, PS… what important things have you been doing lately to make your community a better place to live, and thrive and just be?

 

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Adventure, Community Garden, FUN!, Garden, joy, Life, New York City, Recycle, Save The World, South Bronx, Spring

Project: Community Garden 6.4.14

Has it been 2 weeks already? I can’t even make excuses, other than Captain Clam and I had some rain showers, some long weekend Company, and a bit of Bronchitis and a thrown out back. Okay, the bronchitis and bad back were from me, but Captain Clam had to listen to me cough and complain, and was required to be ever-present to pick up anything that I might have dropped.

We are finally back at it! Well, I should say that the Captain is back at it, and I spent the evening being his flower shopper, cheerleader, and Supervisor (and comedian). I stopped back into the Union Square Farmer’s Market yet again to take advantage of all the lovely blooms from countless vendors. Today I picked up some of the lovelies below:

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Something called “ground cover”, Kiss Frosty Mix, Blanket Flower (Gaillardia Xgrandiflora), Alyssum, and of course, the Left over Lavender from two weeks ago.

 

I tried to grab flowers that were very happy to be stuck in the sun and a little bit thirsty. I am realizing now that perhaps what the South Bronx needs is a cactus garden. Then again, maybe not (direct Quote from Lumiere, Beauty and the Beast). The plot had been mowed earlier in the week, and we instantly realized just how big this project was going to be. I cheered my Clam along like a red-neck at a Rangers game as he sweat and mucked his way through the dirt. I even tried to help with some shoveling and raking, but that seemed almost counterproductive. His first order of business was this area, where we had collected a broken palette a few weeks back and wanted to find a useful place for it, since it is clearly trash:

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My handsome Captain Clam!

I had very little idea what he was planning there, so I went with the flow and made sure to insist that we were “on the same page.” As usual, we were not. But that’s what makes this exciting (well, that and the hungry mosquitoes that  love to dine on my fragrant flesh)! Once we figured out what we could do and were absolutely unable to do be because of the laws of Physics, we ended up with this satisfactory compromise:

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Oh, just wait until it grows in!

At this point, a handful of people had already stopped in to say hello and asked what we are up to. A few of them were our neighbors. One gal in particular popped by to share her excitement and her own experience starting a Community Garden. She graciously offered her help and invited us to come meet her parents so we can find out more about starting a garden for the community as a Non-Profit Organization. What? That’s bananas to me! Regardless of that kind of step, we are so happy to have the offer of help and support.

We continued digging and planting, and a few other people walked by, everyone saying hello and passing on their support. I got to pet a lot of dogs tonight, so I am on a piece of the 9th Cloud. People started honking and waving from their cars, including firemen! Needless to say, Captain Clam is exhausted, I am covered in bug bites, and we are both extremely happy with the progress and the support from our community. Now all we have to do is sit and wait for the rain to come so our newly planted foliage can have a well deserved drink.

 

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BEFORE

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AFTER

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Please note, the giant hole is preparation for our next palette tier, which we hope to get in the ground in the next few days.

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If you’d like to donate time or supplies (not money), please email me: stjanecek@gmail.com. And please stay tuned for more updates on #Garden134!

 

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Community Garden, Dogs, FUN!, Garden, joy, New York City, Project, Save The World, South Bronx, Spring, Today was Awesome

Project: Community Garden 5.20.14

What a nice break from hard labor! Captain Clam and I fell victim to rain last Thursday, making our trash pile damp and unmovable. Then from Friday to Sunday, we were on a mini Road Trip to Virginia. When we returned, we saw that someone had taken out the bag of garbage that we left in there last week. We also saw that the wind had blown in so much new garbage that we would need to have another garbage day, and would most likely need to make every day a garbage day.

Before I sum up today’s work, I have to tell all of you that Max has found a new loving home with my Sister in Virginia. As we left him there in her arms, I saw this sweet look in his eyes that was both sad to see us leave, and happy to start a new life. The garden is empty without him, but we are still inspired to trudge on and get this garden pulled together.

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Happy as a Captain Clam

On a side note, apparently it’s a $150 ticket if caught in the area with a dog. Strange. Apparently no one cared about us or Max in there last week. The cops drove by constantly. I chalk it up to Max being adorable and the fact that no one can get mad at people trying to clean up a neighborhood.

Anyway, we are exhausted from our weekend adventure. This upcoming weekend we are having house guests, but we don’t want that preparation to get in the way of  cleaning out the garden lot. Today, however, was a quick day of garbage pickup and plotting out a course of action. I’ve been on pinterest, searching for gardening ideas to inspire the design. As most DIY gardeners know, there are a billion creative things to do with palettes. Palettes are free and easy to work into any garden design. On the way home from work, the unknown business next door (the one with all the crap in their yard) was getting rid of a few palettes. Welp, what we thought would be an easy day of clean up turned into us building our first terrace palette planter. Captain Clam and I are not on the same page, but when one of us gets going with an idea, the other quickly follows.

Today was a dirty, sweaty day in the garden. It was fun and rewarding, and Captain Clam and I got to see the “designer” in one another. We are preparing to plant our first plants this week (hopefully tomorrow), and have already collected an extra palette to work with. We shall see where these palettes will take us! For now, I am plotting the introduction of an ice cold beer to my belly.

Without further ado…

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BEFORE

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BEFORE (What a cute Clam!)

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AFTER

 

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AFTER

Stay tuned for more #Garden134 Updates!

 

 

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Community Garden, Dogs, FUN!, Garden, New York City, South Bronx, Spring

Project: Community Garden 5.14.14

My poor body. It did not want to move today! Who knew that hard work had these effects! Today’s ailments include a sore back, hamstrings, arms, and neck, and Captain Clam has discovered a tick between his belly button and nethers. YIKES! I also found one on Max last night. So today is tick day. All of our pets will be scrutinized, as will both of us and all our cracks and crevices. What a sexy thought.

I started plotting as soon as I woke up. The walk with Max this morning was brief, but we did visit the site to inspect yesterday’s progress. This project is a lot of work. I am so thankful that Captain Clam is on board. He might actually be more excited than I am! We have also named the garden “Garden 134,” which now has a #Hashtag on Facebook, in case you wanted to get down on a little love and support.

Today’s tasks were easy… buy some tools and pick up garbage. I started with researching some rakes and shovels. We like to buy locally most of the time, so we headed to the local hardware store after work. Captain Clam purchased two rakes and one shovel, while I got to show off Max to the pedestrians. He’s a really good dog, but has no idea how to walk at a city pace. It’s like trying to teach a son-of-a-bitch how not to be a tourist.

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Tools!

Captain Clam and I only spent 45 minutes working in the rubble today. We had spent some time gathering supplies, and have honestly been really exhausted. The weather has also been muggy, making it next to impossible to want to get sweaty and dirty. Luckily we had planned a “light” day of raking up garbage. Apparently, my definition of lightly raking up garbage differs from the Clam’s. We were most definitely not on the same page! At a certain point I gave up raking and broke out the shovel to remove some of the tougher weeds. Once we felt a few raindrops, we started to shovel the debris into a garbage bag. Unfortunately, we only brought 1 bag, not realizing the scope of the mess. UGGH!

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Max is totally into the composition of this photograph.

After the bag was full, Max decided he had enough of the dirt and humidity and signaled to us that it was, most definitely, time to leave. We happily obliged and quickly trudged home with blistered hands, sore backs, and dirt in our shoes. And while we feel like today was kind of a bust, the rubble pile is looking better. It’s only a matter of time before we can start planning the garden’s architecture and landscaping. So, without further ado…

 

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BEFORE

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AFTER

We are looking forward to getting back into the piles of dust and trash tomorrow. So, please stay tuned for more Community Garden Updates!

 

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Community Garden, Dogs, FUN!, Garden, joy, New York City, South Bronx, Spring

Project: Community Garden 5.13.14

We are getting old.

Captain Clam woke up with a twisted knee. He said it was from pulling weeds. I didn’t believe him until I tried to roll out of bed. Holy soreness! After only an hour of easy labor yesterday, we are a little bit of a mess today. While my soreness is inspiring (like that good kind of sore after you start exercising for the first time in a long time), Captain Clam had to wrap his knee up for the day (yes, Clams have knees).

I stopped in to visit the garden with Max on his walk this morning. I was slightly discouraged, since the difference wasn’t all that noticeable. I had to keep saying “Little by Little.” After obsessing and daydreaming about the garden all last night, I realized that this project is going to take years to complete. YEARS! A true labor of love indeed!

I was super hyped up on the way back to the apartment and Max and I decided to race across the street to beat the light. He tangled me up and I wasn’t looking where my feet were taking me and “Squeak.” I stepped on a baby bird that had fallen from it’s nest in the fascia of our building. I don’t know if it was already dead when I stepped on it, but it was definitely dead afterwards. What a horrible way to start the day. I had a small meltdown before leaving for work, wondering if maybe the universe was trying to keep my from a high horse as a “life-bringer” to this garden project. Le Sigh*

I’m not sure if the dead bird was an omen, but we ventured back out there this evening to pull some more weeds and just kinda of hang out with the bugs. There is something about working the ground, the smell of earth in springtime, and the sting of sweat and ant bites that just makes you feel kinda wonderful. And so it went, pulling and sweating, throwing worms at each other’s faces and trying to find awesome bugs with too many legs. After an hour, we decided to stop. The sun was starting to set and Max looked bored.

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Please lobby to Captain Clam for this pup to stay in the BX… Max belongs with us!

 

We were really proud of our work this evening. We pulled so many weeds, and even got a few compliments and thank you’s from neighbors and passerby’s. We are at only one bag of garbage so far, but we didn’t focus on trash today as we need to go purchase some gardening tools from the hardware store first. We took our AFTER pictures and headed home exhausted but satisfied. Then we uploaded the pictures and immediately regretted not picking up more trash. Somehow the BEFORE picture looks better than the after, but only because the trash is now visible.

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BEFORE

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AFTER

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BEFORE

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BEFORE

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AFTER (Clams can garden!)

Tomorrow will be dedicated to finding the perfect rake and picking up trash. We are still incredibly excited about this project and motivated to see progress. It’s been a great start to this garden, and it certainly feels wonderful to physically labor in the sun and dirt. We even found a few interesting  “souvenirs” that will be used for some art project or another:

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Not all garbage is trash.

 

All in all it has been an extremely productive evening and we are starting to see signs of what might become of the rubble pile. Now it’s off to enjoy a hard earned beer mixed with a hot bath and some ibuprofen.

Stay tuned for more Community Garden Updates!

 

 

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Community Garden, Dogs, FUN!, Garden, New York City, POOP, Project, South Bronx

Project: Community Garden 5.12.14

And so it begins… a new project.

Captain Clam and I have taken in a stray. Well, he’s not a stray per se, and we are only watching him until the weekend… but we have a temporary dog! Meet Max (who we can’t seem to stop calling Sam).

 

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MAX!

We have been taking Max out for walks where our neighbors do… in an area next to Interstate 87 where the fence is open (it is the only place he will go poo). We have been dreaming up different schemes to make the area a nicer place for our neighbors to walk their dogs, and we wanted to do a really great project for our own selfish reasons. Of course I jest! We love our new neighborhood and really want to see it beautify. It would also be a great opportunity to pull a community together and even make a few new friends (as I do hear that creating new and meaningful friendships after 30 is quite difficult).

I don’t actually believe the dog had anything to do with the project, as we have been talking about this space for a few weeks, but actually going inside of the “run” made it clearer that something needed to happen. The entire area is overrun with weeds, trash, and broken glass. BUT, within the rubble I saw many different types of flowers growing, mint sprouts were coming up everywhere, and there were even a few ladybugs (and some stupid fucking mosquitos). Captain Clam and I ventured out there this evening with our new houseguest and started pulling some weeds and removing trash. We are confident that this project will be successful and functional as a flower garden for our neighbors and their dogs, and it will be a true test for us in our relationship and as individual designers (and gardeners).

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BEFORE! This lady’s booty photo-bombed us.

So there you have it, our very first BEFORE picture. We only worked for about an hour, not really making too much of a difference (AFTER picture to come on the next post (gotta keep you thirsty for more)), but it was hard work and we came in sweating and fully deserving of a beer. Our plan is to work on this project most weekdays and weekends we are in town. I will be documenting the process and hope that you will read and encourage. Hell, if you want to support, feel free to donate plants, supplies, or your time. You can even just send an email and say,  “Hey! My garden needs some help, too!” Maybe you just want to swing by with some lemonade or a few good jokes (and maybe some bug repellant). Captain Clam and I are really looking forward to this project. We also hope that it’s legal. But don’t tell me otherwise. I like a good surprise.

As for MAX… Considering his first act as our houseguest was to pee on a painting, we are a little smitten with him and are considering a more permanent housing arrangement in our aparment. The cats are battling it out now.

Stay tuned for more Community Garden Updates!

 

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