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

Seeing the Garden’s Beauty

I was in the Saratoga Springs Community Garden walking around and admiring what’s been growing on there.

Here are some photos of what I saw.

Does anyone else see the extraordinary beauty of these vegetables? So very colorful, rich in texture and so very healthy and delicious.

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The Fall Garden

The fall garden planted in plot #44 is doing well. You may remember these vegetables were planted in late August.

The beets are flourishing and the kale is coming along.

And though the mornings are noticeably cooler, these plants don’t mind. Kale is even improved by a light frost.

It has been a good year for gardeners. I hope you have enjoyed it, too.

Hope to see you at the Harvest Dinner, October 8th.

Fall Planting

It’s not too late to get another crop in.

Today I will be planting kale, radishes and beets in the plot where I removed the sunflowers.  The key is to choose what you plant carefully.

Look at the seed package for the number of days to harvest. According to Cornell University’s website, our first frost will occur between September 30 and October 10th.

That means there are (optimistically) 50 days to frost. The radishes only need 28 days. They are a safe bet.

Another way to play it safe is to grow a crop that likes the frost such as kale.

I selected the Italian Heirloom Kale ‘Lacinato.’ It has blue-green leaves and should look as good in the garden as it tastes in the kitchen. The seed comes from Renee’s Garden seeds and the package reads “Lacinato has a fine, sweet, full flavor, never strong or overbearing.”

The package also states: ” Frost actually enhances kale leaves’ color, flavor and sweetness.”

I typically add kale to soups or serve it sautéed in olive oil with garlic and onions.  Another reason this is a good choice is you can pick kale leaves from the time they are small until they mature.

The variety of radishes I will be planting are named  ‘White Icicle’ though it will be harvested by the time any real icicles arrive.

And I plan to add a row of beets. This crop choice cuts it a little close. It is true that beets like the cool weather but the roots are at their most delicious after growing about 45 days and reaching a diameter of at least an inch and a half to two inches.

The good news is the entire beet plant is edible and beet greens can be harvested when they are about four inches tall. If the weather cooperates, there will be tender beet roots. If it doesn’t, we will have beet greens, which are delicious sautéed in garlic and olive oil.

As you can tell I hope to make use of every last day of our growing season. How about you? How’s your garden growing?

Rainbow Chard, Collards and Kale

Look at this harvest of chard, collards and kale!

Jack, the gardener of plot #4, said he is a first time gardener and a passionate cook.  “It’s a thrill to begin growing my own,”  he said. This year’s crop includes: five tomato plants, four basil, three hot pepper, rainbow chard, kale and collards.

These greens went right from the garden to the kitchen and Jack graciously shared his recipe. “I like to prepare them in a simple Ethiopian style. I saute a little garlic in olive oil, add a thinly slice onion and cook until translucent. Add a chopped tomato until softened, add a bunch of chopped cilantro, stir until wilted, add a bunch or two of chopped chard with 1-2 TBS water, covered and steam until done to your preference. Balance with salt and pepper and a little vinegar, if needed. Delicious!”

There’s more to come, too. Look at Jack’s plot at the community garden.