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

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

Not Even This Humidity Can Dampen Gardening Spirit

I checked the humidity before I headed into the garden at 6:45 and saw it was 88 percent. Ugh.

Motivating to do physical work when it feels like this is near impossible.

It’s just too hot and sticky. If you must do some chore, keep yourself hydrated, keep it simple and keep it short. I lasted 22 minutes, managed to rake one small area of mulch smooth and felt like a winner.

Now, I’m inside, drinking an iced coffee and looking at the photos I took yesterday at the Moreau Community Garden where we are growing pumpkins, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, carrots, dill, rosemary, basil, tarragon, green beans, snap beans, rhubarb, zucchini, summer squash and more.7MCG8

Moreau Community Garden

The area I am responsible for is approximately 20 plots that are part of the Family Gardening Program, an initiative funded by a $2.1 million dollar Carol M. White PEP Grant that was awarded to the South Glens Falls school district to promote fitness and nutritional programs over a three-year period. The Family Gardening Program is part of this grant and designed to teach nutrition and a healthy style of living to children and their parents by growing food organically.

As the Garden Coach, I’m doing that and more because I’ve opened the garden lectures to all Moreau gardeners interested in learning to vegetable garden successfully. All community members are welcome to come, ask questions, bring samples of their garden problems – in a sealed plastic bag please – to be identified and remedies discussed. And each week, community gardeners have attended and asked questions about their plots in the community garden and their home gardens.

Learning how to garden builds confidence, teaches cooperation, caregiving and discipline and gets you outside in the fresh air, bending, stretching, lifting, digging, raking, weeding . . . in other words exercising as part of an activity you enjoy. This is the best kind of exercise because when you enjoy what you do, you will do it again and again.

It’s not work if you love it, right?

As part of the experience we do:
Math – For example: we divided our garden plots into equal squares and within each square evenly spaced a predetermined number of seeds depending on the future size of the plant.
Estimating – For instance: We will have a contest this week to see who can guess the correct number of seeds on the average strawberry.
Science – We are continuously identifying insects and what they do, their lifestyle and whether they are good for the garden or not. We do the same for weeds and had a wildly successful weed scavenger hunt. These gardeners know their weeds from common crabgrass to red-root pigweed and the edibles: purslane, lambsquarters and dandelion leaves.
Language skills – Example, we review labels and learned how to read a seed packet for the information we need about disease resistance, days to harvest, plant requirements, etc.

We are going to need a recipe for Bok Choy soon!

We are going to need a recipe for Bok Choy soon!

Food, Fun and Friendships

Our garden is social. When we need a break, the picnic tables under the trees offer a place to sit in the shade, share stories and sometimes food from the garden. We’ve had lip-puckering rhubarb lemonade, Fran’s home-made salsa, and as the vegetables mature we will have a tomato taste test of the different varieties we are growing, pasta sauce, a salsa making demonstration, and at least four more variations of lemonade using the herbs we are growing, including mint, rosemary and basil. This week, because strawberries are at their peak, we will sample strawberry lemonade and I will read aloud a Native American legend about the first strawberries.

(I can tell you the strawberry lemonade is very good, having made it yesterday. But I can’t tell you the average number of seeds on a strawberry until after Tuesday. Wink.)

Every week we begin with a garden talk led by yours truly. I show people the insects currently in the garden, the damage they do, and how to get rid of them without the use of harsh chemicals. We have had sessions on knowing when and how much to water and setting a fertilizer schedule using organic products such as fish emulsion. Everything we do is organic.

There’s an “Acceptable Garden Products” information sheet posted here on this blog and also in the garden on the bulletin board showing what can be used in this organic community garden.

I teach how important observation is in the garden. When you look closely and know your plants, you spot things before they become big issues. If I had to say what one thing makes one garden successful over another, that would be it. Look, really look, and you will notice small things like holes chewed in a leaf when it’s just one bug doing damage and not an entire army of bugs.

Bulletin Board and the Blog

The goal is sharing information. In the garden, attached to the Recreation building, is a bulletin board and under it is a wicker window box. On the bulletin board are sheets updated weekly with information on insects, diseases and weeds to help the gardeners. There is also a plastic container in the window box where gardeners can trap insects they can’t identify. When I come to the garden I identify the pest, print out a mug-shot and what needs to be done to remedy the problem if anything. There are good bugs, too. And we welcome those.

The blog’s goal is to reach all the gardeners and review what is happening in our plots. My goal is simple: I want everyone to build their gardening skills, have a successful experience growing nutritious, healthy food and enjoy the many different ways vegetables and herbs can enhance a meal.

Gertrude Jekyll once said: “The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.”

I believe that.

I hope to meet you in the garden, Natalie Walsh, Master Gardener

Gardeners Won, Weeds Lost

weed scavenger huntGardeners from the Moreau Community Center hunted for 9 different weeds in the community garden last Tuesday as part of a weed scavenger hunt.

The young gardeners were good at finding those plants that don’t belong in the vegetable plots. wsh2 They looked and looked. Hunted and hunted. Can you guess which weed they found most?

Crabgrass!

To all MCG Gardeners: If you haven’t been to the garden to weed . . . you may want to soon.

The Community Center gardeners have several plots in the community garden and in the weeks to come will be learning more and more about what it takes to grow and harvest delicious, fresh vegetables. We are planning a tomato taste test, a salsa making demonstration, an herbed drink day and more . . . much more.

Weed Warriors

We had about 30 children from the community center in addition to other gardeners attend the garden talk on weeds this morning. It was a great group, full of questions about the weeds they found and eager to search and destroy the weeds growing in their plots.

The other Moreau Community Garden gardeners were also happy to be able to identify the weeds in their plots. And one gardener discovered cucumber beetles, a major troublemaker as they carry bacterial diseases. Neem oil soap is a good remedy for keeping populations down. Also, handpicking and tossing them into soapy water is effective.

Among the most common weeds in our garden are goldenrod, smartweed, redroot pigweed, peppergrass, galinsoga, and lambsquarters.

Think you can identify them? Here are some images, see how well you do.I got my common name because it is said my seeds germinate on the way to the ground.  Do you know who I am?

Lambsquarters2weedweed2smartweed
weed3

Answer: Galinsoga, lambsquarters, redroot pigweed, peppergrass and goldenrod.

Weed War

I got my common name because it is said my seeds germinate on the way to the ground.  Do you know who I am?

I got my common name because it is said my seeds germinate on the way to the ground. Do you know who I am?

How well do you know the weeds you are doing battle with in the garden?

Can you name them? Do you know if any are edible? Are they a minor nuisance or an all-out threat worthy of hand-to-leaf combat?

Come to the Family Gardening Program meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, at 11 and you’ll find out who’s who in the garden.

See you then, Natalie

P.S. Check out the Garden’s bulletin board for information sheets on garden including insects and acceptable products you can use. This information is also here. Click Acceptable Garden Products in the menu bar.