Final Week for the Young Gardeners

sunflowersIt has been a wonderful season with few problems and lots of produce.

Today the gardeners harvested the remaining wax, green and purple beans. They also filled a box with edible nasturtiums — They love to eat the bright colored orange flowers which have a peppery flavor. They also harvested tomatoes, kale, beets, celery, carrots and a few radishes.

I’d call that a productive day…wouldn’t you?

Over the past few weeks the vegetables brought back to the camp were cleaned and prepared by staffers for snacks. Some vegetables got better reviews than others.

The young gardeners told me of all the carrots — the purple, white, yellow and orange — the orange had the best flavor. They ate the carrots with a chive dip. The chives came from our garden.

In addition, some of the beans were steamed before serving though a fair number were eaten raw straight out of the garden.

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The scallions were used in a Mexican dip served with chips. The potatoes were cut up and cooked with onions. The kids also made zucchini muffins.

And the rapini was cut up into a salad and served with ranch dressing. Every last bit was eaten.

The favorite vegetable has to be the sugar snap peas. Everyone enjoys those. Who wouldn’t. They are as sweet as candy when ripened on the vine.

This was a great season. As we were leaving the garden today the young gardeners told me how much they enjoyed learning about the bugs, the plants and what it takes to grow food. Some told me their families have started gardens.

“What’s your favorite thing to do?” I asked.

“Harvesting,” they shouted.

“I liked everything we did. Every week,” one young gardener said. “The lemonades..strawberry, watermelon and basil,” said another.

One young fellow said he loved everything to do with the community garden.

“Even weeding?” I asked.

“Yes, I even like the weeding,” he said, adding “I will see you next year.”

The gardeners initiated a group hug and said “Goodbye.”

That was a great good bye. The garden grew a lot of vegetables, but also a love of growing food together.  And that’s a good life-long skill.

Thank you to all the gardeners and to everyone that made this program possible.

Beautiful Beginnings….and a little trouble.

Moreau6.7.2015_2

I was in the garden enjoying how fresh and lovely it looks. Flowers blooming. Seedlings sprouting. Moreau6.7.2015_5207

The garden is beautiful.

But I did notice a problem. Something ate the tops off tomatoes and a pepper plant. It also pulled some plants out of the ground. I suspect it was a deer . . . but I’m not 100 percent certain. It might have been a woodchuck. If you see a critter in the beds, please let us know.

Thank you.

This is what the damage looked like. Anyone have experience to know what troublesome varmint feasted in our garden?Moreau6.7.2015_3

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.

 

Blueberries by Robert Frost

“You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!”

It’s good year for blueberries. My sister is bringing some berries from her garden today and some eggs from her chickens.

For lunch we are having a vegetables and pasta. The peppers, peas, beans, tomatoes, parsley, basil are all from my garden.

The tomatoes are the first of the season and fresh off the vine this morning. I held them in my hand and inhaled the aroma.

I love growing our own food.

Life is good.

Powdery Mildew = Take Action!

P1040721This is powdery mildew, a fungal disease, and I’ve spotted it in our garden.

Not only is it unappealing, it can reduce a plant’s production of vegetables and impact flavor.

What can we do?

We can control it, but not cure it once it appears. To start, remove the leaves most affected on the pumpkins, zucchini and squash. Throw them in the trash bin next to the rec building not the compost bins.

Don’t compost diseased leaves of any kind.

Next,  spread the vine or leaves so the air circulates around the plant. Good sun exposure and good air circulation should inhibit spore germination.

An Experiment

Last year participants in the Family Gardening Program tried an experiment and compared two methods touted online as slowing the spread of powdery mildew.

In one plot, we sprayed the remaining leaves and stem with a cow’s milk spray made with 3 parts whole milk and 7 parts water.

In another plot, we sprayed with a mix of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 quart water.

Both methods reportedly create an environment that inhibits the spread of this disease and are best started before powdery mildew appears.  In our experience last year, the milk was effective is slowing the progression of the disease.

For Future Reference: Gardeners can purchase resistant varieties at the start of the season. While resistant doesn’t mean the plant won’t get powdery mildew, it does mean they are less susceptible.

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

What Gets Planted When?

This question was asked of me yesterday when a neighbor wanted to know when to plant her tomatoes, peppers, and basil in the garden.

tomatoesTender plants – like tomatoes, peppers and basil – get planted after all danger of frost is over. Gardeners here generally use Memorial Day weekend as the date though frost has occasionally occurred later. Check the long-range forecast before planting. Tonight is forecast to drop to 34 degrees in Glens Falls. Not quite frost, but not much better.

If you haven’t hardened off transplants by leaving the transplants outside where they get indirect light, then do so this week. Bring them inside if the temperatures dip. After a week of being exposed to more and more light, your transplants will be ready to plant in full sun next weekend.

lettuceIf you can’t wait to get your hands in the soil, there are plants don’t mind a chill. For example, lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes, dill, cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, celery, kale, potatoes, peas and spinach can be planted mid-May.

However, if beans, corn, basil, rosemary, melons, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins or eggplants are on your list….wait until Memorial Day weekend as these are all susceptible to frost. Or follow in Thomas Jefferson’s gardening footsteps. He said that if you didn’t lose a few plants each season you were planting too late.

See you in the garden this week, Natalie