Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Jason 'Red' Kendall: A teenage green thumb


Jason "Red" Kendall, 17, in his plot at the Magyar Garden.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Name: Jason 'Red' Kendall, sophomore at Waite High School, living in East Toledo. [At last week's awards at Waite, Jason received three service awards, including one for establishing a memorial garden at the school.]

Garden specs: About 30-by-40 feet at the Magyar Gardin on York Street in the Birmingham neighborhood. It's 10 acres with 37 gardens. [If you're interested in getting a plot, put a note in the mailbox near the parking lot and put the mailbox's red flag up.]

When did you start gardening? I started planting flowers at the age of 5. As an Easter present, my mom would get me plants and shovels and little gloves. Four years ago I started planting vegetables with my uncle Tracy who lives across the alley but he ran out of room. My grandma and grandpa buy me plants, hoses, and seeds. A couple of years ago, I talked to Peter Ujvagi and he said come down here and talk to people and get a plot. Mine is where the compost pile used to be; there was a lot of brush to clear out but the soil is pretty good. Someday, I'll have my own landscaping business.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view the garden in East Toledo

What do you grow? Sunflowers, pumpkins, sweet corn (the rows have to be close together so the corn will get pollinated), tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, watermelons, gourds, strawberries, carrots, peas, green beans, zucchini, brussels sprouts. At the Plant Exchange I got two peach trees, two grape plants, and seeds. I also maintain a bee hive (stocked with the more mellow Italian bees) and harvested the honey last year, and I helped raise the chickens in previous years. We'll be getting new chicks and a pair of goats soon. [Last week, Jason spotted a ball of thousands of bees in an apple tree at the garden; they had split from one of the existing hives. He cut down the branch they were on, put the bee ball into a lidded bucket, and helped apiarist Karen Wood get them into a new hive.]

Favorite plant: Sunflowers. My first year here in 2011, I planted them and had a bike path between sunflowers. This year I'll plant them around the border.

Give us a gardening tip: When you have a lot of weeds put some mulch down, then flattened cardboard boxes, and sprinkle some dirt on top. Cut a hole in the cardboard in which to put the seed or plant. This also helps the soil retain moisture and eventually turns into fertilizer.

Hours spent gardening per week: I am in the garden as much as I can after school. During the summer I usually spend most of my day there.

Annual expense: I'm hoping to keep it to $50 to $75; I got everything on clearance last fall. I do spend some of my own money I make doing jobs in the winter and summer like shoveling snow and cutting lawns.

Challenges: Keeping your stuff alive when it's very hot out and the garden is dry. I bundled a lot of hoses (some have holes) and buried them under the soil in different directions, and on a wooden pole a hose is attached to a sprinkler. I was just messing around and wanted to see if it worked.

I'm proud of: My knowledge of gardening and also all of the help I have gotten from the older generation of gardeners who have been doing this longer than me. Last year, I packed my vegetables in big plastic pots and rode my bike to deliver them to the fire fighters at Fire Station 13; they're always in our neighborhood. I'd like to donate to an additional group this year.

And I'm part of Youth Leadership Toledo; it gets me out in the community more and with my own age group and they're going to help us out at the garden in June. They're all from different schools and they're awesome. Only two of us are from Waite. It's exciting when you get picked. I was nominated by the principal.

What I've learned gardening: If you water too much you are more likely to get a bunch of weeds. Also that gardening, although fun, is a lot of hard work and takes a lot of time and caring to be successful. It's relaxing; I can get away from kids who act childish. My friends say it's a waste of time to have a garden but I think otherwise. If I wasn't doing this I'd probably end up in trouble because there's nothing to do.

Contact Tahree Lane at and 419-724-6075.

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