June 22: In the Garden

The Moreau Community Garden was very peaceful this morning. I could hear turkeys off in the distance and that’s about it.

I went about my business of taking care of the 10 plots I maintain for the Family Gardening Program that begins soon. And, I made some notes in my journal of what I did, what I saw, and any other information that helps keep track of what’s happening in the garden.

WEEDING

It’s a toss up right now for which is our most prevalent weed. It might be smart weed. It’s everywhere. Fortunately, it is easy to spot as it has a distinct reddish mark on the leaves.smartweed

I swear this weed can hide because when I am done weeding and start to water, I always find some that escaped my first round of weed patrol.

Our next most prevalent weed is this one. Lamb'squartersKnow what it is?

If you said Lamb’s Quarters, you’re right.

We also have red root pig weed and pictured below, crabgrass. crabgrassStay on top of the weeding and please pull out weeds from pathways, this is a favorite hiding place for insects.

INSECTS

I refreshed the spray bottle of neem oil this morning. I saw that some of you have cucumber beetles on your squash. Remember to spray the adults directly to eliminate this problem. Don’t spray when it is above 80 degrees. And check for reddish eggs on the underside of leaves. If you see these, remove them immediately and destroy.

GROWING STRONG

Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Kitpeas

6.22.14

kale.spinach

carrots6.22

tomato.peas

Thank you to Sara McKay for her help spreading wood chips. It is appreciated.

Hope to meet you in the garden, Natalie

What was that in the Bug Jar? Answer: A Millipede

Milliped2e copy

We used to call them “thousand-leggers” when I was growing up. But they don’t really have THAT many legs. The record is 750 legs.

Generally, in small numbers they do no real harm in the garden even though they may nibble a live plant here and there. If you find another, let it be. If you find dozens, then let me know.

Busy Time in the Garden

I spent some time in the garden yesterday doing various tasks.

Here’s what I noticed:

The cucumber beetles are on the attack. If you look at the plants growing nearest the parking lot you will see the damage they do. The leaves have many holes and sections are chewed.

These plants were treated 6/10 with Neem Oil. There were many beetles flying about, so if you are growing a cucurbit, you will want to check your garden plot. Neem oil is mixed in the shed. Look for the labelled spray bottle and spray the beetles in the evening when they are most active. Neem oil needs to contact the beetle to be effective.

Gardeners should look for yellowish eggs under the leaves at the base of the plant. If you find them, squish them.

If there is still a heavy presence of beetles later this week, I will put diatomaceous earth (DE) down around the stems to keep the larvae from entering the soil. DE can be used for cutworms as well and I sprinkled it around tomatoes, celery, kale, beans, peas and other plants bothered by cutworms.

DE is in the shed if you want to use it. Use care when applying as it is very light. All you need to do is sprinkle it around the stem of the plant you are trying to protect. It is not effective once it rains.

Placing cardboard between rows and covering it with wood chips cuts down on the need to weed.

Placing cardboard between rows and covering it with wood chips cuts down on the need to weed.

Pathways

You’ll notice that I placed cardboard down in the pathways to smother the weeds. The cardboard will be covered with wood chips. This should reduce the amount of weeding that needs doing.

If you find you have many weeds in the paths around your plot, rake back the wood chips, put down a sheet of cardboard and then replace the wood chips.

Thinning

It is time to thin your crops. I thinned out the kale yesterday and will be doing the carrots later this week. When thinning it is advisable to water the plants first. This makes it easier to remeve the plant you want without disturbing any others. In the case of carrots, I will thin with a scissors. This avoids the possibility of uprooting its neighbors.

I ran into some other gardeners while there:

Sara found a cutworm that was disturbing the peace in her garden. She put down DE to protect the rest of her plantings.

Bill raked back the wood chips and put down cardboard around his plot to smother weeds. He still needs to pull out a few weeds nearest the bed and replace the wood chips.

Gina was there taking care of cucumber beetles.

It was a good day.

I hope to run into you next time, Natalie

Cucumber Beetles Spotted

cucumber beetle

Striped cucumber beetle adults have arrived in our garden plots. If you are growing squash, cucumber, zucchini or other cucurbit you should be looking for eggs under the leaves closest to the soil.

The eggs are oval and yellow to amber-colored. If you find eggs, remove and destroy them.

The beetles – which are yellow with black stripes – are currently feeding on leaves. Soon, if not already, female beetles will lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch the larvae will feed on the roots and pupate in the soil. Come August, the cycle will be complete and what are now eggs will be adults.

What Damage Do They Do?

They eat leaves and roots. Mature cucurbits can handle some damage. If beetle numbers are high the damage can mean reduced yields. A secondary problem with cucumber beetles is that they are vectors to a disease known as bacterial wilt. If you notice leaves turning a dark green, wilting and then dying, this is a symptom of bacterial wilt. Some plants – such as pumpkins – are more susceptible than others to this disease.

How Do I Know if My Plants have Bacterial Wilt?

Cut a section on the stem. Hold the stem together and then slowly pull it apart. If bacterial wilt is present the sap will appear string-like between the cut ends.

How to Control and When

Striped cucumber beetles are most active evenings and through the night. Since it is most effective to spray the beetle directly this would be the ideal time to apply a spray of Neem Oil. If you find beetles on your squash apply neem oil in the next two weeks. In addition to aiming at the beetle, be certain to spray under the leaves at the base of the plant where eggs and larvae are likely to be located.

A labelled spray bottle of Neem Oil will be placed in the shed in the next few days for everyone to use.

Never, Never, Never spray in the heat of the day. This can kill a plant. Wait until evening and aim for contact with the beetle.

If you have questions, leave a comment below.

Cutworms in the Garden

Several plots at the Moreau Community Garden have been visited by cutworms.

If you see a ring of yellow paper around your tomato plant, it was put there last night by fellow gardeners in an effort to keep cutworms from destroying your plants. If the cutworms already ate one of your plants, we replaced the dead tomato plant with another tomato plant we had on hand.

What are cutworms?

They are the caterpillars of night-flying moths. They are called cutworms because as they feed on stems and can cut down young seedlings of a variety of vegetables including bean, cabbage, carrot, celery, pea, pepper, potato, and tomato.

What do they look like?

Cutworms vary in color and can be brown, tan, green or gray and black. If you touch one, it will curl up. It is important to clear weeds from your plots and surrounding pathways as this is where the adult moths lay their eggs. The emerging caterpillars (cutworms) feed on the foliage or small roots of weeds or crops.

What can I do?

Most cutworm damage happens when the plants are small. Check you garden plot. If you can be there in the evening this is ideal as that is when they are most active. Sometimes, you can find the culprit in the morning if you run your hand over the soil near the chewed plant. They don’t travel far. Handpick them and get rid of them.

Pulling weeds helps eliminate egg-laying sites and the food source young larvae need to survive.

Another control is to make collars for the seedlings. The cardboard, aluminum foil, or paper barrier keep cutworms off the plants. Some gardeners recycle toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls for this purpose. Cut the rolls in three inch long sections and place around the stem, burying one end in the soil.

If you find cutworms in your plots, get on top of the problem swiftly as they can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

If you have other questions, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Natalie

Gardeners Appreciate Free Plants

_DSC0270_0924Many, many transplants of parsley, peas, thyme, sage, tomatoes, eggplants, broccoli and more were planted in the Moreau Community Garden today.

The plants were donated by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs and were appreciated by gardeners who quickly found a place for them in their beds. The Family Gardening plots are now packed with vegetables and herbs with the promise of a great harvest in the months to come. Thank you.

Once community gardeners had their fill, the remaining plants were offered to families enjoying the town park with their children. Several children walked away tenderly holding a parsley plant for their home garden. Very sweet.

What a nice day.

SAWFLY LARVAE

To the person who left the caterpillar-looking larvae in the jar under the bulletin board: It is a sawfly larvae. I recommend treating the plants you found it on with an insecticidal soap. This isn’t the same as dishwashing soap, which can harm plants. You can get insecticidal soap at a garden center. If there are only a few larvae, hand pick them off. That is an easy solution.

DEBRIS

Gardeners, when you weed your beds or pull out sticks, etc. please don’t leave the debris in the pathways. Every gardener is responsible for keeping the pathways around their beds free of weeds, sticks and trash.

It’s June…Watch for Squash Bugs

SquashbugsIf you’re growing melons, gourds, cucumber, summer squash, zucchini, pumpkins, winter squash, you will want to read this. Those vegetables are called cucurbits and this is the time of year they are vulnerable to squash bugs looking to lay their eggs.

Squash bugs are sap-sucking insects that lay clusters of copper-colored eggs on the underside of leaves. In garden plots like ours, hand-picking is very effective. Squish the eggs when you see them and put any adults in a jar of soapy water – which is kept under the bulletin board. Be vigilant. These insects will start to appear this month.

Early action is imperative.

This is very important to do as left alone the eggs will hatch and dozens of squash bugs will begin feeding….this usually leads to plant leaves wilting and the plant dying.

The other thing to know is squash bugs seek shelter around the base of plants, this area should be kept clear. No weeds. If the pathway around your plot has weeds, remove them.

If you find you have squash bugs, an application of a 1/4 cup of Diatomaceous earth around the stalk of the plant can help control this pest. This treatment is permitted in Certified Organic vegetable production.

If you have other questions, leave them in the comments section of this post and I will answer them.

Natalie, Master Gardener and Coach for the Moreau Community Garden

Moreau Community Garden Report

PromiseMCG2014The garden was in good form this morning. Everywhere I looked I could see tiny plants emerging from the soil.

I love seeing the seedlings opening up and I am always amazed that these tiny plants will grow to be healthy and nutritious vegetables. Yum.

I didn’t notice any insects today. But I did put another empty jar in the basket under the bulletin board. If you find an insect you need identified, leave it there and I will post what it is and what to do about it in this blog.

Weeds are getting a hold in some beds. Lamb’s quarters is especially prevalent. Don’t forget that you are responsible for weeding not only your bed, but the pathways around it.

Be sure to water, too. We can’t rely on the hit or miss showers we have had. My beds were very dry.

Here are some other images from the garden for you to enjoy.

MCG-May2014

May2014

Moreau Community Garden Work Day May 17th

Hello all –

After the long winter, I am so happy to be back at the Moreau Community Garden helping others gardeners and coordinating the Family Gardening Program.

Our start-up date is this Saturday and we will be roto-tilling the beds to work in the cow manure we spread last fall. This will enrich the soil. While you are tilling your beds, keep an eye open for wireworms. These larvae of the Click Beetle were in the garden this year and I did spot one this season as I weeded.

They are a reddish-brown worm about and inch or so long. This is a picture of the damage they do: wireworm damage

Wireworms were one of three problems we had at the garden last year.

The other two were Squash Bugs and Early Blight.There are things we can do now to keep these troublesome three from becoming issues this year.

Wireworms

As you work in the soil, look for them and if you find wireworms remove them by hand. If the numbers are few in your plot, this will work. To be certain, you can slice a potato in half and bury each half beneath the soil in your plot. If there are wireworms, they will find the potato. Check back the next day and dig up the potato. If you see wireworm damage, you might decide to: 1-not grow root crops, their preferred food. 2 – grow radishes early to lure the wireworms and then plant what you actually want. Radishes act as a bait. 3 – Keep turning the bed for the next week to expose the worms to birds.

You’ll note that we are really trying the attract birds this season through birdhouses and a soon to be bird bath. Birds can help keep the insect population down.

Which brings us to. . .

Squash Bugs

SquashbugsLast season they feasted in the garden. There are strategies to try to keep them at bay which I will outline below. For in-depth knowledge, you can check out http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05609.html

Squash bugs suck the sap from squash and pumpkin plants causing wilting and death. We had a lot of them in the garden last season. The adults overwinter in debris, which is why we cleaned the beds last fall of all plant matter. Surviving squash bugs have emerged now and will begin to look for mates and lay eggs on the underside of leaves in the next month. One strategy is to cover the squash seedlings with row cover, a lightweight material available through garden catalogs. This keeps these pests off plants. Period. Come the end of June – when most of the eggs have been laid – we remove the row covers and let the pollinating of flowers begin.

If you find bugs on your plants, hand-picking can help. Another organic help is the spread a little Diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants as this is where the bugs are likely to shelter. In mid-June, begin to look for eggs – which are copper colored. If you find them, remove and crush them.

Another thing we can try is companion planting. From internet research I found that dill repels squash bugs as do petunias.

Everyone in the garden needs to be aware of these insects as they are voracious and will do a lot of damage if not controlled.

Early Blight

Last season, Early Blight was the heart breaker and spread through our garden just as our tomatoes were getting ready to ripen. Early blight is carried in the wind and very difficult to control. However, we can: grow varieties of tomatoes that are resistant to this disease, keep the beds very clean, and avoid wetting the leaves of our plants when we water.

I will be trying a few varieties that are resistant to this disease and we will see how they do this year. Resistance helps, but it is not a sure thing.

This Saturday, I will plant peas and a few other vegetables that can handle a frost should one come, which technically can happen but I hope not!

I will also be available to answer questions and help in anyway possible. I am looking forward to seeing you then, Natalie Walsh, Master Gardener

Butterflies, Herbs and Cleaning Up

I was in the garden today and Jeremy showed me these two swallowtail caterpillars on the dill in his plot. I had noticed another on parsley in another plot.swallowtailcaterpillars

An adult swallowtail lays eggs on plants that will provide food for the caterpillars. These include dill, parsley, fennel, Queen Anne’s Lace, and carrots which is one of the reasons I included some of these plants in our Family Gardening Program plots. Look around these plants for caterpillars and you may be lucky and see one.

From the time the eggs are laid to when the caterpillar creates a chrysalis is about 14 days. Once the chrysalis is formed, it takes about 2 more weeks before a butterfly emerges. You will know the chrysalis is nearing the time it will open when it becomes transparent. It is hard work for the butterfly to emerge and when it does it will stay in place for a while and dry its wings. This is a great time to get photos.

Communal Herb Garden

Plot34My first order of business this morning was moving herbs to plot #34. This will be the communal herb plot for all Moreau Community Garden gardeners. Right now dill, thyme, marjoram, cilantro, basil and tarragon are growing in the bed. Some will reseed, some won’t and others are hardy enough that they will come back next year.

Having a communal bed means we don’t all have to grow these herbs, gardeners can take a snippet or two as needed from the communal bed.

If you have a hardy herb to share — such as Greek oregano — please feel free to add it to plot 34. But don’t add any invasive herbs, such as mint or lemon balm. These would take over and defeat our goal.

Cleaning up after Early Blight

As you clean tomatoes that have early blight out of your plots, remember that you need to remove the roots as well. I noticed that some people are clearing their plots but not weeding or removing roots. Early Blight can overwinter on plant debris, so it is important that everyone be meticulous and do a good job cleaning our beds and the weeds around them.

We are expecting a delivery of cow manure. When it arrives, add it to your cleaned bed and work it into the soil. The nutrients and microbes in the manure will do wonders to improve the health of our garden.

The donation of the cow manure is coming from Todd Kusnierz – one of our Town Board members – and is truly appreciated. It will really help improve the soil.