What a Great Morning in the Community Gardens

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 12.01.22 PMThere was a lot happening in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens this morning.

Faye Mihuta read books to about a dozen children as part of the Sunflower Hour held each Saturday in the gardens.

Then Jess Clauser helped those who wanted to plant flowers in the Children’s Flower Garden as well as in peat cups they could take home.  It was wonderful to see children participating in all aspects of gardening and exploring the plots.

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 12.01.35 PMAnd not everyone participated in the program. The sandbox, play farm and a toy excavator saw a lot of use much to everyone’s delight. Great photo opportunity for grandmother.

Compost Tea

We had the great pleasure of having Chris Cameron, an organic gardener and supporter of PMCG,  in the gardens this morning to talk about the benefits of compost tea and how to make tea at home.

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 12.17.39 PMChris explained how using compost tea improves the soil by promoting healthy bacteria and other microorganisms that nurture strong, robust plants.

Thank you Chris. Your enthusiasm is inspiring and your lecture was informative.

If you want a copy of Chris’ handout, it will be available in the gardener’s shed.

And if you see Chris on the farm, feel free to ask him questions about compost tea.  He has been brewing for years and can show you the positive results in the plants he has been treating in the community gardens.

I’m so glad Chris is part of the team!

Gardening Class

After Chris, my lecture for our Gardening class was about what to do to minimize damage done by the cucumber beetles, squash bugs, cabbage loopers and the cutworms we found in the gardens this week.

About 10 participants learned how to identify the insects, the different ways to apply diatomaceous earth as a control and all had access to the organic remedies to use. They also learned how to find squash beetle eggs on the underside of leaves and how to remove them.

Finally, we talked about fertilizing. It is now time to fertilize with an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion. Check your bottle, for my gardens I use 1 ounce in a two-gallon watering can and apply it to the soil every week for robust vegetables.

My bottle has an NPK of 2-4-1.  If the brand you have as a higher concentration of nutrients, you can treat it every other week. Watch your plants and how they respond. They will “talk” to you with a rich, green color, strong stems and vigorous fruiting.

Our next class is next Saturday.  All are welcome. 

Like today, we will walk through the garden and discuss what is happening and what we can do to keep the garden strong and robust.

I will also be working in the gardens on Thursdays from 8 to 11. You can come and see me then about chores to do or any garden concern.

Thanks for making this place great.

See you in the gardens, Natalie Walsh

Moreau Community Garden Gardeners

Your help is needed.

While in the garden this morning I notice that we need to spread the wood chips over the cardboard by the squash mounds near the picnic tables, the mounds need to be weeded, too. Anyone who can give a hand, it will be appreciated.

Also, when you weed your plots, do not leave the debris in the pathways. There is a bin for plant material. Pathways should be just wood chips. Thank you.

cuke beetle damageThe Neem oil is doing its job on the cucumber beetles. The plants are looking better now. If you notice yellow and black beetles on your cucurbits, spray them directly with the neem oil. You need contact to kill. And don’t spray if the temperatures are over 80 degrees.

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.

Cucumber Beetle Combat and Control

Since finding them in the garden, I’ve been researching striped cucumber beetles and how we can control them organically.

The Facts:
Cucumber beetles are troublesome on cucumber, squash, melons, and pumpkins.
The one I’ve spotted in our garden is the very common striped cucumber beetle but there is also a spotted cucumber beetle in New York that has a yellowish green body and 12 spots.

In addition to the damage these beetles do to leaves, they carry bacterial wilt which, as the name implies, causes the plant to wilt and die.

Attractive Nuisance

Adult striped cucumber beetles are tiny (about a quarter of an inch long) and have a black head and black and yellow striped body.

The adults lay pale orange-yellow eggs near the base of the plant and the larvae feed on plant roots. This is when they are the most destructive and do the most damage.

What to Do

This week, check your crops for beetles early in the day when they are slow and can be knocked into a pail of soapy water and drowned.

Neem oil also works and can be purchased at the big box stores and applied according to label instructions.

Also check near the base of plants for the eggs and remove any you find before they emerge and the larvae go into the roots.

Observation is really the best defense in a garden. Trouble found early can be addressed before issues develop.

Squash Bug

To the person who left an insect in the plastic container. It is an adult squash bug. Handpicking is a good method of keeping them out of the garden as there aren’t many organic controls otherwise.