As I mentioned in a previous post, Troy-Bilt is anxious to give away a battery-powered cultivator to some lucky reader of The Bike Garden, and as part of that deal, they asked me if there was anything I could use out of their catalog. Well, in fact, there was, and it involves the care of this flower bed in one of our neighborhood parks:
It is one of three legacy "color spots" originally installed and cared for by three different neighbors many years ago, all of whom for various reasons are unable to care for them now. The neighborhood association has been paying for a local landscaping firm to take care of the one shown above, with spotty results (as you can see, it was a tad overgrown, and filled with rescue grass and nutsedge), so at a recent board meeting, when we were all sitting around scratching our heads about the budget and lamenting how much the flower beds were costing us, a voice piped up and said, "I'll believe I'll take this task on myself."
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the voice was mine.
I love this flower bed, though, as do many in the neighborhood. It was planted by Marjorie, a much-beloved figure in the 'hood, and it has given us pleasure for many years. Its placement at the most prominent corner of the park also means that it, in effect, represents the neighborhood, and so it behooves us to see that it stays spruced up. However, because it is a city park, many people are under the impression that it is the city's responsibility to take care of it. This is not the case, though, and thus it has fallen on hard times.
The Sunday morning after our board meeting, I loaded up a small bucket-on-wheels with tools and walked the two blocks to the park. I could have driven, but it was only two blocks, you know? Even so, the little wheelie-bucket was inadequate to the task.
All the tools made it unstable and wobbly, and while it is sufficient to haul away the weeds in my own yard, it didn't begin to hold the volume that I was pulling out of Marjorie's flower bed. The latter meant that I'd fill up the bucket quickly, then have to stop my work, pick up all my tools, take them with me as I dumped the waste, then return for another round of weeding. With a small bucket, this meant many trips. I could have used my big wheelbarrow for a bigger load, but pushing that thing two blocks hardly seemed like a good idea, either.
Nevertheless, I managed to make pretty good progress that first morning, and removed most of the weeds:
But what it really needed was some thinning out of the "good" stuff as well. I mentioned this at our neighborhood association meeting and up popped two volunteers, Landon and Laura. The following Sunday morning, they added their capable hands to the task:
And now it looks like this:
And Troy-Bilt made it so:
And more importantly, I can get a lot of garden waste in one load:
The cart came needing assembly, but this was fairly easy. It took me a couple of hours at most, and I only skinned two knuckles in the process. Some of the pieces required a little "persuasion" to fit together, but nothing that was too alarming. The finish on the wooden sides and base is rather dubious, and will not hold up to the weather if left outside. Indeed, after only one light rain, the plywood has already begun to crack and peel. To be fair, The instructions mention this, and recommends that it be stored inside in "extreme" weather, and applying a coat of varnish once a year. Frankly, I think a garden cart ought to be able to take a bit of the great outdoors, but I understand that in order to keep costs down, the sides are made of cheap plywood. Fortunately, I just had some work done on the house and happen to have some more durable material lying around that I will probably use to replace the less suitable wood.
I think I'm going to paint it red when I do so, however, since I am tickled by the sauciness of the cart as it is. Doesn't it stand out well against the flower bed?
I think the bright red color of the cart has had another, unexpected side effect. The park is a very busy place, with lots of joggers and walkers, but the first couple of times I worked on the bed, hardly anyone said anything to me at all as they passed by. There were a few more comments when Landon and Laura were with me, but still not as many as you might expect. But when I showed up with the cart, many more not only commented, some even came over to visit. One even volunteered to help. It might be a coincidence , it might be that the regulars are getting used to me, it might even be that with the red cart, it is obvious that I am not a city employee and therefore "one of them." I think, however, that it is because the cart is just so darned cheerful-looking. Who knows? It could even be having a bit of Tom Sawyer effect on people: "Weeding is fun!"
And the truth, of course, is that it is.
Anyway, except for the dicey finish, I'm really pleased with the cart, and grateful to Troy-Bilt for sending it to me (and to Landon and Laura for their help!). Don't forget to enter the contest for the free cultivator that started this! All you have to do is go to the post about it, found here, and leave a comment telling me how you would use it. That will automatically enter your name in a drawing I'll have on August 16th. Be sure to check the blog to see if you've won!