Saturday, June 26, 2010

WYG: what a difference a few weeks makes

A gorgeous planter near the entrance of the Administration Building of the National Arboretum.

Below are beets that I helped sow in the Washington Youth Garden just three weeks ago. Rows are labeled with pieces of old vinyl blinds.

A few other sights around the Washington Youth Garden on this very hot early summer day...

Things were smelling as good as they were looking - and I'm not just talking about the rosemary shrub we were weeding around. A local chef was doing an outdoor cooking demonstration for some WYG families. Can you smell the freshly harvested garlic sauteing in the pan?

Today's duties for the volunteers consisted mostly of taking care of the Bermuda grass - pulling, covering with cardboard, mulching...not fun, but like all weeding tasks, somewhat fulfilling as well. Here are some of us, sweaty but proud of how things in the perennial border look. I'm in the red shirt.

Here's Mamoi weeding (sorry - I'm spelling his name phonetically because I can't remember the proper spelling!). I learned the most interesting thing from him today. We were talking about bamboo when he mentioned having seen bamboo seeds in his country. He said that unfortunately, seeds bring poverty and famine (to which I was very confused). I did a little research on this later on and here's the explanation in short: Bamboo flowers/seeds about once every 100 years. There is actually a mass flowering of a certain type of bamboo, regardless of location or region. Due to the mass fruit/seed production, the rodent population booms. This boom in the population also means they will eat whatever is available, including food stores and farm crops. Many of these pestilent rodents also carry disease. Now if that's not enough, after the mass flowering, the bamboo dies. This is a huge loss of a natural resource used for building material, floors, furniture, many other products and for trade. All this could be really devastating to many countries that are just barely making it anyway.

Anyway, in addition to the knowledge I always gain from either the WYG staff or other volunteers, this week I also gained a fresh bulb of garlic! This is no small token for my 3 hours of labor on a 95 degree day because have you seen my garlic stock? Me neither but 8 months ago, it was here...


  1. It's great that you volunteer to do this. I've never had fresh garlic before. Any different properties or taste. I'd love to hear what you do with it and if you can taste any difference.

    And thanks for the morning virtual smell...rosemary and sautéing garlic. Nice at any hour.

  2. Hi Wendy..wonderful post..beautiful planter..and such awesome contribtuons you are awesome and have such agreat spirit about you! Lovely read..yes quite interesting about the bamboo situation..eye-opening! Always a treat to visit! have a happy day!

  3. I had heard about the bamboo and the rodent story - saw that documentary on the Discovery channel. Its quite scary though to note huge giant rats run amok
    hungrily to devour everything.

    Wondered what happened to all the snakes, eagles and owls - wondered if they had enough prey to keep these under control.

  4. Wendy, what a neat experience this must be! I love that you have such a neat opportunity to help spread the love of gardening with your community!

  5. Hi Wendy~~ I've missed visiting you.

    You're such a giving person. I can't say I'd be smiling after three hours in 95 degree heat. Big time kudos to you.

    I had heard that bamboo will die after flowering but I didn't know that about the invading rodents. Good thing it doesn't bloom very often.

    Sorry about your garlic. Too cold, this winter, maybe?

  6. You got me thinking about bamboo flowers. I googled to check out the flower. I realised that I have seen them in real from the road at those hilly remote places before.

    I hope your fresh garlic bulb will give you another big harvest.

  7. Good for you! It always feels great to be able to participate in somthing like WYG.

    You've reminded me to plant my garlic and investigate grapes for our yard.

  8. Thanks everyone for commenting. I'm going to see if I can find that Discovery Channel show. The whole bamboo flowering this is so fascinating to me.

  9. It's cool you are able to volunteer there, and work with people you can learn things from. I have friends who volunteer at several gardens in town. Maybe I'll do that sometime. I did help plant annuals at a local garden, and before kids, helped at an herb garden in a park.

    That was interesting about the rodents, but it's too bad that happens.


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