Hot (Planting) Fun In The Summertime

Last week was the week we Green Garage gardeners had been waiting for…it was finally time to plant the alley. Our poor plants were supposed to be planted the first week of June, but delays in the construction of the alley caused us to plant a month late. So our plants were nursed along by Bill and his team at Wildtype Nursery in Mason, MI, and we waited nervously, knowing that we would be receiving plants that would be quite root-bound. On the day we got the go-ahead to begin planting, we planted on one side of the alley while the guys from Classic Landscape literally ran through the alley with wheelbarrows full of dirt, trying to fill the other side. Every once in a while you would hear ‘Watch out!’ as a clueless planting volunteer was near to being run over by men with overflowing wheelbarrows. Here is a scene from the first day.

Now, most of us planters know that it is best to plant in the spring or fall, when cooler weather and abundant rains help ease the plants into a new environment. It was our misfortune, therefore, to plant over 4th of July weekend, and an even greater misfortune to plant during a 95-degree-plus heat wave that extended over the entire weekend and into the next week. We did get most of the alley planted, but had to take frequent pauses to keep hydrating. Fortunately, Motor City Brewing Works is right across the alley from us, and our lucky volunteers got plenty of food and drink from John and Dan.

We have been watering daily (often twice) to keep the plants healthy, and the good news is that the vast majority have survived quite well. We began planting out the permeable pavers, also, with ground covers such as sedum, moss, mazus reptans and elfin thyme. We will be adding clover seed to many of the pavers this fall, when things are a bit cooler. Here’s what the gardens looked like on July 11.

Alley planted out

On Thursday, just after the final bit of mulch was carefully laid around the plants, the heavens finally opened to a deluge. Unfortunately, we realized that many of the alley’s gutter systems were not yet in place, and some of the mulch pooled into the middle of the alley with the water. This is being remedied, but the Green Garage’s gutter system will not be in place for a couple of weeks more, so Tom devised a system to keep the water where we want it for the time being.

Feat of engineering

It’s a good thing I’m married to an engineer!  Next week the brick pavers will be power washed.

In other news, foam insulation is going onto the walls…

Foam insulation

…and pex tubing has been laid in the vestibule. This will carry the warm water for our radiant heating system. The tubing will be covered with cement shortly.

Pex tubing in foyer

More building took place on our stairway and wood wall…

Stairway with wall

…and the back meeting rooms and bathrooms are taking a form.

Back rooms taking shape

With the heat, planting, sawing and drilling, I could safely say this was one of the more challenging weeks (work environment-wise) we have faced. The outdoors was brutal, but indoors so much dust was flying through the air that it took only minutes for a computer to be completely coated, and the noise from the many crews often stopped conversations. Still, a lot got done, and by God, those plants are in the ground! Whew!

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