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Ginger Dawson: Chairman of Bored snaps out of winter doldrums to find inspiration all around

Winter brings with it a time of indoor contemplation. I spoke about this in my last column. I have been mulling over the successes and failures of last season. I found out that I will have to establish a new asparagus bed. Fine.

Shifty eyes. . .

Shifty eyes. . .

I haven’t attacked the enormous pile of seed catalogues that I have slowly been amassing at the grave expense of a grumpy mailman. Fine. But not for the mailman. Duty has its price.

What’s been the problem? I’m bored. I’m the chairman of the bored (thanks, Iggy Pop).

I needed to get out of this house and see what was going on outside.

I knew what was going on in my backyard. Nothing. It’s too cold to do anything except just look at it. Not fine. I need more. I need inspiration.

So, I took a trip. I got in my Jeep and made a tour of my favorite Covington hot spots. There are several community gardens nearby and maybe something would be going on in one of these that would put a fire in my belly.

First stop. Morning Glory Community Garden on Seventh street in the Mainstrasse Village. Nothing going on here either, coupled with a decidedly casual attitude about end-of-season clean up. I imagine their plan is deal with it early next Spring. I do note that they have a newly installed front fence that looks as if they are planning to be there to do it. It’s good to see progress!

Second stop. Mainstrasse Village Community Garden, also on Seventh Street, but a block or two further West. This is a much bigger garden. It is very nicely fenced in and has quite a large number of plots with attending gardeners. There are quite a variety of gardening styles represented here, and also quite a variety of attitudes about end-of-season garden clean-up! I can’t help that I’m a stickler for this detail. I have German ancestry.

The treehouse and chickens in nonchalant mode

The greenhouse and chickens in nonchalant mode

In this garden, it is fascinating to look and see the different visions that were put into action. Some like flowers. Some are more interested in vegetables. Each gardener clearly has a different view and idea of how to go about it. Fifteen different ways to plant tomatoes! It’s like a science fair, but without little geeks and exploding volcanoes.

I love checking it all out. You never know when you’ll spot a technique that you weren’t aware of.

But, nothing is going on here to really get me motivated. No warm bodies in evidence. Well, it IS cold. That’s why I’m here in the Jeep, looking out.


Final stop. Orchard Park Community garden in Westside; a little south of the Mainstrasse.

I spy a human! And chickens! Activity! This gets me out of the Jeep.

Janet Tobler, the poultry mistress of Westside, is tending her flock. She very graciously talks to me about her project here.

These chickens are a handsome bunch. Pretty colors and plump! Janet tells me they are being a little stingy with their egg production this season. Don’t tell me that chickens can be as capricious as cats. Hmmm…I know that game. Spoiled.

She points out a few of her other garden projects: Garlic beds, a cover crop experiment, and her intention to move the chicken coops to other areas of the land that this garden claims in order to take advantage of all of that chicken poo being manufactured. This is what “sustainable” means. She also is neat and tidy with end-of-season cleanup. This further appeals to my “German”.

The rules . . .

The rules . . .

This Intrepid Urban Farmer grew up with chickens at the grandparents. Fresh eggs and fried chicken. I have vivid memories of my grandmother’s particular technique of, well…murder. You would have to know the woman.

I have toyed with the notion of chickens, but I fear it would be akin to having a dairy farm. You could never leave. Who will take care of the chickens if you decide to take a little trip? It’s not like having someone come in to feed the cats.

Hats off to Janet. She is obviously dedicated to this flock and they look marvelous. She is a busy woman and is generous in letting me hang around after she goes so that I may spend some time there and take it all in. All I have to do is lock up the gate when I leave. I do not relish the thought of chasing loose chickens all over Covington, so I am very conscious of that gate. If these chickens are the sort that will hold out on eggs, they most certainly are the types that will try to make a break. I don’t trust ‘em.

As a flock, they are handsome, but a couple of them have shifty looks. Punks. I know about punks.

So, I carefully turn my back to see what else is going on in Orchard Park.

A greenhouse! A marvelous little greenhouse. And, it has very healthy lettuce in it! This makes my heart swell. There’s a spark in my belly.

There is also some late season Kale and Collard Greens in beds surrounding it, all nicely tended. No late season trash in evidence anywhere here either.



Mark and Holly Young, committed Westside residents, are responsible for this greenhouse and these plantings. The Youngs are lightning rods for lots of good things happening in Westside.

It is a real pleasure to see the work of other serious garden geeks. I have been lifted out of my malaise and I WILL get a greenhouse this year. But I probably won’t get chickens, unless Janet is willing to board them for me if I leave town.

Orchard Park, along with the other Community Gardens in Covington (and there are several others I didn’t mention) are great assets to all of us, not just some bored gardener at loose ends with too much time on her hands.

Long live our community gardens! May they have many years to build their soil!


Ginger Dawson has resided in Covington, Kentucky since 1988. Raised on a farm in South Central Ohio, she has enjoyed a very eclectic and enriching life. She loves her Italianate Victorian Townhouse and particularly the garden behind it.

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