Companion Planting

One of our gardeners asked me about companion planting. That is, planting two plants near one another for the benefit of one of the plants.

I’m always interested in keeping insects away and so I do some plant planning with this in mind.

For example, onions are planted in rows between carrots to repel carrot flies.

And the nasturtiums – in addition to being colorful – are next to the beans to repel bean beetles.

And if you are wondering what is planted down the middle of the potato patch…it is a row of beans which are said to repel Colorado potato beetles. Horseradish is also a good beetle repellant.

Onions are planted around the cabbages and tomatoes to ward off insects. And the radishes near the carrots and beans are said to do the same.

You will notice I plant lots of flowers, too. The sunflowers, salvias and zinnias are planted to attract hummingbirds because these birds eat whiteflies. And the scent of marigolds confuses some other insects pests, so plant them where you can.

I’m always open toweb ways to garden organically without chemicals.

Happy gardening, Natalie

Grateful it’s Raining!

I’ve been working in the garden for more than a month nonstop.  And, If it wasn’t pouring rain I’d be out today!

There is still so much to be done at the Moreau Community Garden. But there’s a lot that has been done and it is looking lovely.  When I look at the raised beds, I smile. The promise of the season lies before us and it is full of carrots, cabbage, kale, tomatoes, peas, beans, potatoes, onions, sunflowers, zinnias, salvias, nasturtiums and more … much more.

A huge, heartfelt thank you to Lena’s Greenhouses, Hewitt’s Garden Center and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs for their donations of plants. What a different it makes….and it is very much appreciated by the gardeners. Right now, there are tomato plants waiting for adoption in the wheelbarrow nearest the bulletin board. Gardeners, they are free.


We have already seen cutworms and grubs in the beds.  The grubs are likely Japanese beetles. There are many in the park and later in the season we will likely put out traps. If you find a grub…small whitish, curls into a C when touched — squish it.  If you aren’t sure what it is, leave a sample in the bug jars under the bulletin board and drop me a note. I will identify it for you. Cutworms can often be found in the soil. If the tops of your beans are chopped off, they are likely the problem. Dig around the plant they have just devoured. See if you can find it. If you do, you know what to do. (Hint: Squish.)


We had a little frost damage in the garden.  Frost turned the tips of tomato leaves black.  Lets hope that cold temperatures are behind us now.

Be Aware

In years past, we have had trouble with squash bugs in the garden. If you are growing cucurbits, keep an eye on your plants and use Neem if you spot these insects in your bed. The Neem is in the shed and can be mixed in the container left alongside it and sprayed on the plants. Sprayer is there as well.

Remember ours is an organic garden and all methods of controlling insects must be organic. If you aren’t sure, get in touch before you spray any chemicals.


Every Monday through mid-August, gardeners are invited to gather around noon under the pines and talk about the garden (or anything else), share experiences, seeds and just get to know one another.  I will also be available anytime to answer your garden, insects, plant disease questions. You can reach me here, through the blog, or on Facebook or you can leave a note for me on the bulletin board.

Bulletin Board

The bulletin board is also the place to ask for help from other gardeners. For example, if you are going on vacation, you might post a note asking for a volunteer  to water your beds while you are away.

Thanks. I hope to see you in the garden, Natalie

Family Gardening Program – Week Seven

3week7This was the last session for the young gardeners. We harvested carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans and those vegetables that weren’t eaten on the spot went back with the gardeners for snack. We also picked bouquets of flowers and tried cucumber water.


It was a marvelous season. There were about 80 young gardeners participating and they were very interested in learning how to grow food.

Over the course of the summer, we planted seeds, and learned about insects and diseases that threatened the harvest. Older gardeners who were interested learned about propagation of spearmint….which they enjoyed in lemonade. The gardeners also tried vegetables fresh from the garden – such as celery, sugar snap peas, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, purple beans and broccoli.

And were treated to recipes using fresh ingredients they harvested…such as the kale chips and herbs such as basil in lemonade. And a very delicious chocolate zucchini cake! and muffins!

The enthusiasm was wonderful. There was curiosity about insects, how to save seeds from one season to the next,  and diseases on their plants. We talked about organic gardening and how to keep garden troubles away through good gardening practices such as weeding, mulching, providing air circulation and improving the soil.

It was a wonderful experience all around.

Kudos to the all the young gardeners and Miss Vicki, Miss Laurie and Miss Nancy.

Thank you, Natalie

P.S. Cucumber water is simply slices of cucumber in water. Let it sit about an hour before serving. It is a non-sugar drink that is very refreshing. Those young gardeners that liked it, really like it and asked for seconds, thirds and fourths.




Family Gardening Program- Week Six

This week there was a long list of things that needed to be done.

mulhcmoverChores for the older participants included moving wood chips into the flower beds, learning how to save the seeds of bachelor’s button flowers, harvesting and cleaning out the purple bean bed and weeding.

savingseedFortunately, the young gardeners took their chores to heart and completed the work in time to enjoy a special treat…watermelon lemonade.

This lemonade is so easy to make and there wasn’t a single gardener who didn’t like it.  You make it by pureeing two cups of watermelon in a blender and then pouring the watermelon puree through a strainer and into the pre-made lemonade. It is delicious and a very pretty pink.


kaleharvestIn an effort to try new and different vegetable recipes, I researched how to make kale chips. And, I found an easy recipe.

The youngest gardeners, five and six-year-olds,  were responsible for harvesting all the kale, washing it and carrying it back to the kitchen where Miss Laurie baked the kale chips.  She reported that some liked them, others didn’t but that’s OK. They all had the opportunity to try something they hadn’t tried before.

Kale chips are easy to make.

Here’s how, preheat oven to 275 degrees. Remove the rib and then cut the washed kale into two inch pieces. Dry.

Spread kale on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp about 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: curly kale takes longer to crisp then lacinato kale. Kale chips have a nice crunch, like potato chips.

The young gardeners also harvested a huge and heavy zucchini!

bigzucchini The next two groups of gardeners were really busy. They harvested green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and moved more mulch.

Some gardeners drew pictures of what the garden meant to them.  I’m thinking we may do an art show in the Spring!

It was another great day in the garden for the participants in the Family Gardening Program.


Family Gardening Program – Celery Harvesting and Tasting

CeleryThis was a busy, busy morning in the garden. The young gardeners pulled weeds, trimmed the herbs, moved mulch, harvested green beans and then trimmed the plants for the experiment. See previous post for more on the experiment.

They also tied tomatoes to the support stakes, removed spent flowers from a plot and collected Batchelor’s Button seeds for next year’s flowers.

But that’s not all!

Every group harvested celery. It wasn’t easy to pull from the ground but all ages showed teamwork and strength and got the plants out, shook off the soil and placed them in a wire basket.  Next, we trimmed off the roots, washed the stalks and ate them with a yogurt based ranch dressing.

Almost everyone agreed that this was good tasting celery. It couldn’t have been any fresher and it certainly had better flavor than the pale stalks we buy at the supermarket.  Even gardeners who thought they didn’t like celery, tried it and found they did.

Some of the young gardeners ate multiple stalks with and without the dressing.  The rule in the garden is you can take a small bite of a vegetable and if you don’t like it, you can politely spit it out.

“But if you are adventurous enough to try something new, you may be surprised you like it.” That is what I say every time a new vegetable is presented.

We also added freshly harvested and chopped parsley to the yogurt dressing and that also meet with approval. The willingness to try new things is terrific.

This was a great day.

I’m looking forward to next week…I’ve got something unusual planned.



Green Beans Experiment

Tomorrow  morning the ten to 12-year-old young gardeners will be garden scientists and conduct an experiment.

A farmer told me  if you cut the bush green beans down after an abundant harvest a second crop will grow and provide more green beans than if you just let the beans keeping producing on their own.

I love a good garden experiment so here’s what we will do:

Harvest all remaining green beans.

Cut all the bean plants back to five inches making sure to include some growth nodes. Fertilize and water.

If you want to know what happens, keep an eye on  plot #25.


What was in the Bug Jar?

There were two insects in the bug jar this morning.

The first was a leaf miner larvae.  It is a yellow larvae about a half inch long and, depending on the species, feeds on Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, broccoli raab, potato, bean, tomatoes, peppers and beets.

You know you have them in the garden if the leaves of your plants have squiggly paths tunneled into them. To control,  remove the infected leaf (insect is inside) and throw it in the trash.

For more information:

The other insect was the larvae of a white cabbage moth, which attacks all brassicas.

The specimens in the jar were desiccated so I suggest you look online to find photos.

If  you see them in the garden, pick them off and discard.