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.

Squash Bugs…Ugh!

SquashbugsLast season the squash bugs in the Moreau Community garden caused a lot of damage. Entire plants had to be removed, which is terrible considering all the effort we put into growing them and dreaming of the great meals we will make.

On Sunday, I spotted one of these pests in our garden.  Just as expected, since June is the month they begin to lay eggs.

Preferred Plants

If you’re growing melons, gourds, cucumber, summer squash, zucchini, pumpkins, winter squash, you will want to examine your plants closely and take action swiftly.

Squash bugs are sap-sucking insects that lay clusters of copper-colored eggs on the underside of leaves, often near the base. In garden plots like ours, hand-picking is very effective. Squish the eggs when you see them and put any adults in a jar of soapy water – jars are kept under the bulletin board. Be vigilant and check your plants each time you visit the garden.

Early action is imperative.

This is very important to do as left alone the eggs will hatch and dozens of squash bugs will begin feeding….this usually leads to plant leaves wilting and the plant dying.

The other thing to know is squash bugs will seek to hide in nearby weeds. If the pathway around your plot has weeds, remove them. This will help keep your plot healthy.

If you find you have squash bugs, an application of a 1/4 cup of Diatomaceous earth around the stalk of the plant does help. This treatment is permitted in Certified Organic vegetable production.

If you have other questions, leave them in the comments section of this post and I will answer them.

Natalie, Master Gardener and Coach for the Moreau Community Garden

What was that in the Bug Jar? Answer: A Millipede

Milliped2e copy

We used to call them “thousand-leggers” when I was growing up. But they don’t really have THAT many legs. The record is 750 legs.

Generally, in small numbers they do no real harm in the garden even though they may nibble a live plant here and there. If you find another, let it be. If you find dozens, then let me know.

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

Tomorrow’s Garden Plans

I will be in the garden tomorrow morning cleaning up and tending to Family Gardening Program plots.

Anyone who hasn’t been able to come during the week and who would like to talk about what is happening in their plots is welcome to join me starting at 10 a.m., ask questions and get assistance. If it is your home garden that has an issue, bring a sample of the insect or diseased plant in a plastic bag.

Disinfecting Tools

If you have Early Blight remember to clean your tools in a solution of bleach and water to disinfect them. And, after you handle your diseased plants wash your hands to avoid spreading the problem.

How I disinfect my clippers, trowels, etc. Start by putting on old clothes.

Then: mix 2 gallons of water with 4 cups of bleach in a five-gallon bucket. I place the tools into the water/bleach solution for 15 minutes. Don’t rush it, just let them soak.

If you only have a few tools to clean, the formula is 1/2 cup bleach to a quart of water. I like the bucket because I can place shovels next to trowels, etc.

After 15 minutes, I use rubber gloves and take the tools out of the bucket. Rinse them in water and dry them with a cloth. Then I let them sit in the sun for a while before rubbing the tools with a drop of oil on a cloth to keep them from rusting.

I recycle the bleach water by: going after mildew and algae with a scrub brush, washing down plastic lawn furniture, and cleaning the trash cans.

See you in the garden.

Natalie

Garden Meeting Rescheduled

Hi MCG gardeners – Because of the rain, we must postpone our meeting until Wednesday at 10 a.m.

I hope you can make it. We will be discussing Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot and how to tell the difference.
Bring your questions! We will talk about what we can do now and what we need to do next season.

Thursday at 10:30 – when the young gardeners can be there – we will have a tomato taste test of the Moskovich and Opalka tomatoes. . . and hopeful a Celebrity tomato or two.

See you in the garden.

Natalie

Boston’s Fenway Victory Gardens

v4I’ve been exploring other community gardens.

Recently, I visited the Fenway Victory Gardens, located on seven acres near Fenway Park in Boston. It is the nation’s only remaining, continuously operating WWII Victory Gardens founded by the Roosevelt Administration. During WWII over 20 million victory gardens were grown by Americans and produced nearly half of all the vegetables consumed during the war.

It’s a pretty impressive garden with 500 plots. Talking to a few of the gardeners and walking around you get a clear idea of just how enormous this garden is and how diverse the gardeners are.

I saw plots about 15 by 25 that looked like a back patio with chairs, a few flowers and a tomato plant and I saw others with every inch planted with things to eat. I also saw beautifully landscaped plots of trees, shrubs and flowers and other plots that were pretty much a tangle of weeds. There is also a learning center with bees! And I saw more than one garden with elevated raised beds.

Here are a few of the photos I took:V-1v7v220130722_1919

Lemon Thyme Pound Cake Recipe

I’ve been planning the menu for a party.

And, I’ve also been thinking about a delicious lemon verbena cake I tasted recently in Cooperstown. I’m not growing lemon verbena this year, but I have plenty of lemon thyme in the garden growing as a groundcover around perennials. And, it needs trimming.

I bet you can see where this is going.

Sunday, I carried a good handful of the lemon thyme into the kitchen and made a Lemon Thyme Pound Cake.

The recipe is from Martha Stewart and can be found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/344011/lemon-thyme-pound-cake

It is easy to make, doesn’t require any exotic ingredients, looks lovely, has a wonderful aroma and was a five-star winner in an informal family and friends taste test to determine which cake recipe would be served at an upcoming garden party.

Martha Stewart made individual little bundt cakes. I made a loaf. It took a longer to bake because of the pan’s shape, about an hour.

Lemon Thyme Pound Cake
• 18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for pan
• 12 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, plus more for garnish
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons zest)
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 6 large eggs, room temperature

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third. Butter pan. Dust with flour, and tap out excess. Coarsely chop remaining lemon thyme leaves to make 2 tablespoons; whisk chopped lemon thyme with the flour, salt, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium speed until pale and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 4 minutes. Add sugar. Mix until pale and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 3 minutes

Mix in vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition; mix until smooth. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until just combined after each addition.

Pour batter into pan and tap the pan on counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges to loosen and unmold. Garnish with lemon thyme sprig.

I hope you enjoy it the fresh herbal lemon flavor!

I’m thinking of serving it with a dollop of whipped cream and maybe some edible flowers for decoration. . . what do you think?

Small Scale Garden Big on Imagination

Mostly, the garden is made of succulents along with herbs such as the rosemary "tree" and thyme shrubbery.

Mostly, the garden is made of succulents along with herbs such as the rosemary “tree” and thyme shrubbery.

It was love at first sight.

We were having lunch at The Black Cat restaurant in Sharon Springs, NY and tucked in a corner of the outdoor deck was a shop called Garden Creations. One of those creations was this delightful miniature garden in a bowl.

Sweet, petite and perfect as a centerpiece for an outdoor table. Or you can take this idea a little further and create an elfin garden tucked among your flower beds. Perhaps using a tiny birdhouse or creating a house of twigs like you imagine a fairy might do. Great project for imaginative young ones to help create and then play in with little dolls.

Either way, this would be a charming addition to an outdoor space and play area.