Fruit in the first year wasn’t something we expected at the orchard, but juicy blueberries, blackberries and figs are already fighting for the birds’ attention. The persimmon and pear trees are well-established and covered in leaves, and the wee pomegranate sapling Brad and I added seems to be holding its own.
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been mistakes. I could kick myself for uttering the nonsensical, “There’s no way the seed bank is still active after 20 years in concrete-like soil!”
Foolish, foolish Jenn. In the words of Jurassic Park‘s Dr. Malcolm, “Life finds a way.”
After emerging from a month of post-surgical house arrest, I discovered weeds and vines had gone viral across the previously barren (but freshly tilled) landscape like a video of a cat in a shark costume chasing a duck while riding a Roomba.
But the Dutch white clover is making its way across the lot, too, and some of that seed bank included desirable grasses, so about half the ground is now green instead of orange. Three sessions of weeding along with an evening of fence clearing by a group of intrepid volunteers have begun to restore order to the universe.
Take heed. Next spring I will try spreading corn gluten as a pre-emergent weed combatant. And this weekend, I’ll spray another round of homemade natural herbicide (one gallon white vinegar + one cup salt + one tablespoon dish soap) on any vine shoots that dare peek their heads above the soil.
There’s just enough grant money left to buy river rock for a path that will connect the neighborhood street to the main thoroughfare, and Brad’s been perusing the salvage yard for material to fix the torn sections of fencing. Then we can start phase two, searching for a grant for signage, public art and maybe some seating, to encourage the orchard’s use as a community greenspace.
Last month, we were humbled when Keep Columbus Beautiful honored us with an urban forestry award, and we have to give one more shoutout to the many people who donated time, money and resources to the orchard. Without their generosity of spirit, it never would have happened.
With thanks and gratitude to:
Bibb Village Neighborhood Association
Columbus Land Bank Authority
Columbus Water Works
Jody Foster Tree Service
Georgia Organics & Georgia Food Oasis
Jenny Jack Sun Farm
Lazy K Nursery