Summer Solstice Ceremony 2014, 6:30 AM, GANG Garden!

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Annual Plant Swap, plus assorted fabulous finds

Annual Plant Swap, plus assorted fabulous finds

May 21, 2014

by Ann Kreilkamp

After a number of email reminders (including one I sent in haste from my temporary perch at a gathering in the Great Bear National Lakeshore in northern Michigan with the Great Old Broads for Wilderness), and a giant sign Rebecca put out for a few days late last week,



Saturday, May 18, was the occasion for our annual plant swap, an event that usually draws the same dedicated characters — plus a few new neighbors. This time was no exception. Six neighbors showed up between 10 am and 2 pm, most of them, Rebecca tells me, early on, which is good, because then everybody could choose plants they wanted to take home.

This time the surprise was in the variety of plants people brought to share. They included iris, marigolds, lilly of the valley, columbine, wood poppy, assorted veggie starts, black berry and raspberry starts, and asters. Plus, an even bigger surprise, none of the usual staples: hostas and daylilies!

Kathy suggested that we plant the extra plants during one of our planned guerilla gardening adventures, in a public area, probably around midnight . . . I’m checking to see if the city mows the area around the new underpass. And even if it does, perhaps we could put up a sign saying “please don’t mow these plants down.” That would be an interesting experiment, eh?

Unfortunately, since I wasn’t here, no pics of the Plant Swap event itself. But it sounds like a good one, and that afternoon Rebecca tells me four people showed up to work in the GANG garden. YES!

Plus, two days ago, I was out walking with puppy Shadow when I came across the adult son of a neighbor on the corner of 7th and Hillsdale who was mowing an enormous lawn and collecting the clippings. He agreed to give them to the GANG garden, and actually dropped them off, later. YES!


This morning I added a layer of grass mulch to some of Rebecca’s newly planted beds.


But the best I saved for last.

Last night, in the middle of the night, Rebecca woke up and remembered that she had decided to go get the probably 40 pieces of perfectly good long pieces of wood that were stacked by a dumpster on 7th Street, near the Fire Station. So, at 2 am, she roused herself out of bed, started the truck, and went to pick it up. The the best part for her? A fireman came out and asked if she wanted help. Unfortunately, she was already done. This wood will go a long way towards any building projects.



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In the GANG Garden on the day before Mother’s Day


In the GANG Garden on the day before Mother’s Day

Lots of photos. Here’s one:


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GANG Garden revs up for 2013 season. Thanks, gang!

I posted this first in exopermaculture. See:

Photo Essay: GANG Garden work day, April 21, 2012. Thanks, everyone!


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More riches arriving . . .

Scored again for the GANG! Wood chips from the city

Lee Huss, Bloomington city forester, called me yesterday, while I was trying to figure out how to change title and registration of an old truck that my son Colin is gifting to the GANG garden with this great news: “I’ve got a driver out your way, with chips. Where should he put them?”

“Great! Thanks, Lee. Put them in front of my house, between the garden and the street.”

The driver did a very precise job. YES.

So much fun, scavenging for the GANG. Jim already moved the load of grass clippings from a couple of days ago. This load will go on the carpets, laid down over the aisles.




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How to build soil while making new friends . . .

Scavaging for the GANG garden — this morning, grass clippings!

Lots of them. A whole truckfull. From Indiana University groundskeepers. Whew!

The two IU groundskeepers, Shadow, and Jim, my housemate, who directed where to put the clippings.

I consider this a real coup . . .

Shadow and were out on one of our usual morning walks, this one into a big grassy area north of campus. Once again, no chemtrails above. A good omen.

Came upon these two men, both dear hearts, forking grass clippings into a white truck with the IU decal on the door. Would they mind taking this load of grass clippings to theGreen Acres Neighborhood Garden? It’s nearby.

“Well, I dunno. We’d have to ask the boss.”

After a bit more hemming and hawing, and me begging and scraping in front of them, Shadow dancing around their feet, one of them sauntered over to the truck cab and pulled out his walky-talky.

The boss: “Nearby?  I see no problem with that.”

Shadow and I ran home to be on the street in front when they arrived. Got here just in the nick of  time. Jim, the young permaculturist and Goddard student who lives with me, directed them to dump the pile just in front of flower gardens at my house, since he’s working on a project for a sweet little gate for the garden itself (next door),

Finally, we’re going to get an obvious gate into the garden. As it is now, people don’t even know the gate is there unless they are already familiar with it. Jim is working to create two little raised garden beds here, on the outside, before creating a more obviously welcoming gate. All these projects take time. As the founder and organizer — and elder — I sit back and watch young permies do their thing, utilizing the permaculture principles we all learned in the two-week-long permaculture design class.

and didn’t want that area disturbed. Told me he’d clean the whole mess up.


This is not the first time I’ve scavenged for materials for the GANG. Not the first time our morning walks have yielded riches. Most of these unexpected finds come from where neighbors pile what they don’t want for the city to take away. But not all.

A few years ago I spotted bamboo growing a few blocks away (for temporary garden structures; now we have our own bamboo patch to harvest). I went up to the door and asked the renters if they would ask the owner if we could cut part of it. YES!

Old carpet (for garden aisles,

then covered with woodchips (donated, when I ask, by the city of Bloomington, or by men cutting down nearby trees),

Here’s one of our aisles, carpet laid down and partially covered with wood chips (I’ve put a call into the city for more . . .). Notice the Garden Tower to the right ( We’ve found that aisles treated this way discourage weeds for about three years in this climate, and then need to be replaced.

leaves from nearby neighbors each fall, a tree trunk downed by a windstorm and dragged from next door (for a hugelculture bed).

Image thanks to permaculture institute of Australia. A log can go in as the base of these type of beds, and then disintegrates slowly.

Cardboard too, once in a while. I see it piled flat on the curb, and, like the carpet, load it into the back of the Prius. All of this stuff, flotsam and jetsam of the suburban landscape, for the lasagna beds, to mulch them and keep building soil.

For now, Jim says he’d like to mix this load of grass in with our compost piles, some of which are mostly carbon (sticks) and in need of nitrogen.

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Harvest Season

Well, we have survived the drought… let’s hope! We have 1 really active bed at GANG, full of basil and tomatoes and peppers so enthused to be growing! I was able to harvest some today to start preserving food for the change of seasons (mmmmmmm pesto!) and have a couple pictures to share of the beautiful harvest!

First, friendly tomatoes.



The cool thing is all the different colors and shapes of tomatoes that we were able to grow, and there are lots more that are on their way!

Here is one tomato going directly into our hot sauce:



Hot sauce? Oh yeah… harvested a couple of those “pipi de mono” – monkey penis – peppers ! Here they are chopped and ready for the hot sauce. Remember: if you take the seeds out of hot peppers they are more tolerable!


We mix that with some onions and lime juice and vinegar and take it out every meal to put on our food. YUM!

I also decided to put in some of the other beautiful peppers I harvested. The red ones are Venezuelan sweet habaneros. And they really are sweet, with just a touch of spice, but I eat them like candy! They have a really fascinating flavor. And the yellow…well I am pretty sure that is a Peruvian Habanero and it is deceptively HOT! First we just cut into the flesh and each took a little bite… no flavor. Then I cut it in half and just barely TOUCHED the pepper to my tongue and it BURNED! I drank 3 glasses of milk and have recovered. So I just put a little slice of that in our hot sauce. Here they are, the gorgeous Habeneros!!



And basil, yes, I mentioned basil. It is growing like CRAZY! We already harvested a whole bunch, and it was featured at: The Rail! But it keeps growing…. so got to make more pesto!
 Here’s some of the raw, beautiful basil:


That’s all the show and tell for today but if you are interested in how this stuff grows and where it comes from, come visit us at GANG!




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