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TT: first experiences


The following is a bit long and self indulgent.  Forgive me...

As many of you know, I live in inner city Baltimore.  About 9
years ago, our neighborhood, like many areas in this city, had
very few trees.  It should be noted, at that time there was a
small group of active people who called themselves "Slum
Busters."  They were interested a greener neighborhood and were
doing something about it.  But I was new to the area, and hadn't
met them yet.

A good friend, Richard, lived one block from me.  Richard had
caught the "tree jones" from Slum Busters and wanted me to get
involved.  But I was busy trying to get hot and cold running
water in my house.

After several months, I had water and a flush toilet (deluxe!), a
stove to cook on, and enough new joists in my floors so that they
wouldn't collapse.  Richard continued to whisper about trees... 
so early one February, we scheduled a Saturday walk around with
friends, neighborhoods, and the Cooperative Extension to look at
vacant lots, and discuss what we could do to make the place look
a little better.

Meanwhile, I was secretly talking to a nurser about leftover,
live (root balled) Christmas trees.  Before Christmas, they sold
for $25.  Mid January, he was willing to sell them to me for $20. 
The day before our "walk around," he wanted $12.50 for them; I
talked him down to $10, and we had a deal.  I bought five white
pines and loaded them on the back of my pick-up.

When the day arrived, we strolled through the hood with pen,
paper, and a camera.  Spirits were high, even though we were
looking at piles of garbage, broken bottles, and other assorted
dumpings.  We chose five lots we wanted to work on--pretty
ambitious to be sure.  They were to become "pocket parks," even
though we didn't know the term at the time.  Somehow, we
intuitively realized that if we took an interest, and started
working on them, the dumping would stop...

After walking a full circle around the neighborhood, the survey
was done; I said, "Go home, get your shovels, put on your dirty
cloths.  I have five trees on the back of my truck!"  With much
joy and celebration, we re-grouped at the agreed upon vacant lot,
and planted our "evergreen forest."

That was Richard's and my first planting in Hollins Market.  As
always, he was the brains, and I was the brawn.  We've made many
mistakes over the years to learn from--"Before you graduate from
the school of guerilla tree planting, you'll kill something;
don't let it stop you!"--Our first mistake was on that first
planting; we didn't know enough to check the PH balance of the
soil--it was over nine, while evergreens like it below six. 
Luckily, we caught it in time and re-balanced the soil before it
hurt the trees.  (Now, I keep a PH meter on my truck at all times.)
Over the years, we've planted an uncounted number of trees. 
Residents have worked together and change the appearance of our
neighborhood--it get's more obvious each year as the trees grow. 
Every spring, when the leaves come out, is a celebrated time in
the neighborhood.  We're still planting and watering, and the
first mulching of 1998 is Monday evening, March 2nd...