Today in Our Community Garden

It’s good to be back from vacation. Thank you to Margie I. for everything she did this past week. In spite of mid-week concerns, the garden looks wonderful and much was accomplished.

The issues that came up like the Septoria leaf blight and oriental beetles on leaves are common for this time of year and the weather we have had. And the cultural practices all ready outlined during the week are precisely what we should be doing.

Practices such as removing the diseased leaves, mulching under the plants (straw is in the shed), watering from the bottom are all good advice.  Washing your tools afterwards is prudent to prevent spreading of the fungus.

Pumpkin PatchScreen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.44.54 PM

Today, gardeners created a pumpkin patch. Thank you Joanne K. for sharing the Jack-o-lantern pumpkins she started on July 5th.  They should be ready to harvest right about Halloween.

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.45.43 PMAnd thank you to Ed S. for roto-tilling and Margie, Kate, Chris, Anne, Jeanmarie, Sarah, Susan, Joanne, and Heather who raked, transplanted, and moved wood chips around the young plants to suppress weeds.

Take a look when you visit the garden.

The pumpkin patch just beyond the sunflowers.  This is a good location as some of the insects troublesome to pumpkins will be lured away from the pumpkins by the cheerful yellow of the sunflowers. This gardening strategy often used and, in this case, the sunflowers are the lure crop.  There are other plant relationships like this, such as nasturtiums planted near watermelons and other cucurbits to deter chewing insects. Or marigolds, especially  fragrant ones, planted near and around squash, pumpkins, melons and cucumber plants to keep beetles away.

Hot PeppersScreen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.47.23 PM

There were hot pepper plants that didn’t find a home this past week, so we created a barrier planting at the Northwest corner that we hope will keep any unwanted animals from entering the garden. FYI – There was one plant in one bed that may have been nibbled. It could have been a broken branch. We aren’t certain.

While I look into solar fencing, the peppers will create a “barrier.” If they don’t, there are recipes online for a spray we can make from hot peppers that keeps wildlife away. We win either way. Of course, we can use the hot peppers to eat, too.

Jim F., pictured above, planted over 250 pepper plants. Thank you.

Tomatoes

The garden was buzzing today. Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.45.16 PM

Our Saturday morning gardening 101 class was about how to trim, train and care for tomato plants. We removed all leaves and branches at the base of the plants up about 6 inches from the soil line by cutting the branches off with a clippers or scissors. If any were infected with Septoria leaf blight they were thrown in the trash and the scissor/clipper cleaned.

Anyone who wanted to had the opportunity to practice trimming up tomatoes on the community garden plants we are growing for our tomato taste testing potluck. And then, with a little experience, they took care of their own plants in their own plots.

We also made certain the tomato stems were well supported and tied so they weren’t rubbing against the sides of the cages. This can cause damage to the stem. Our farm is windy and this could happen in a day, so keep an eye-out in your own plots. If you need to see what was done, look at the plots with tomatoes and marigolds that are close to the barn for an example. Those are the tomato taste testing plots.

I will be in the garden again on Monday from 8 to 11 and plan to fill the five new beds with soil and the pathways with gravel. Come if you can. I appreciate your help. Thank you, NatalieScreen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.46.36 PM.png

 

What’s for Dinner?

I’m looking around the garden thinking about what I can make for dinner tonight.

I have fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, and basil in the garden. And I have chicken breasts in the refrigerator. If I stop at the Italian deli and pick up some shredded parm, I can coat the cutlets with cheese, bread crumbs, and seasoning. I could serve the cutlets over pasta with a fresh tomato, onion and Italian peppers sauce.

Sounds good to me. I looked up the ingredients online for some recipe guidance and found a similar idea by Rachel Ray that I will use as a starting point. Here’s Rachel’s recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/parmesan-crusted-chicken-breasts-with-tomato-and-basil-and-potatoes-with-peppers-and-onions-recipe/index.html

I’ll let you know how it turns out. But really, how can you miss with these ingredients. Yum.

After Dinner Update: Yum is right. I added some cream to the sauce to use up what I had in the refrigerator. And I was very generous with the basil and garlic. Dinner turned out really well. The cream made the sauce delicious. My husband — a natural foodie — loved it and went back for seconds.

Moreau Community Garden Family Gardening Program Update

MCGAUG6When I arrived this morning, the garden was serene.

Soon gardeners arrived and started to tend their plots. MCGA6.13

And when the participants in the Family Gardening Program at the Moreau Community Garden arrived, things got even busier.

On today’s agenda:
• learning about a new garden pest
• harvesting beans, peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and basil
• monitoring our experiment with powdery mildew remedies

You may remember that last week we sprayed a milk mixture or a baking soda mixture on different plants infected with powdery mildew. Our goal was to see which of these home remedies worked the best.

Today, the gardeners walked back and forth between the two test beds and made an evaluation. While both remedies seemed to have an impact, the baking soda sprayed plants looked better this week, meaning they had less powdery mildew. We repeated the experiment and sprayed again with both mixtures and will report our results next week.

Tomato Hornworms

Last season’s gardeners warned me that tomato hornworms were a problem in the garden in 2012. And just this week, gardeners are reporting finding them again.

Today, about 15 gardeners learned what tomato hornworms look like, how to spot them on a plant and what to do if you do find one.

A few of the adult gardeners were surprised at how large these pests are. The four we found ranged in size from about four to six inches. They have good camouflage, but you can find them on a plant by looking for an area missing its leaves. And, then look on nearby branches. They are voracious eaters and can strip the leaves off an entire branch overnight.
tomatohornworm

What do you do if you find one? If it is parasitized with wasp eggs, just move it off your plant. Otherwise, remove them off the plant and place them in the trash.


Harvest Time

MCGA6.7MCGA6.9
Every week we have been harvesting the vegetables we grow and sending them over to the Moreau Community Center and today was no exception.

At the community center, adults have been preparing the vegetables as a snack for the young gardeners. This week they made zucchini bread. One of the counselors told me that the bread was a huge hit and one youngster said he never heard of the vegetable before but loved the “ZOO ZOO bread.” I love that he tried it.

They may make some more because we sent many, many fistfuls of zucchini, peppers, beans, cherry tomatoes and herbs to the center today.

If you haven’t visited the garden recently, here’s an image of its beauty for you to enjoy.MCGA6.4

Fertilizing Tomatoes, Eggplants and Peppers

Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are the garden’s equivalent of teenage boys in that they consume a lot of food while they are growing.

Garden books often call them “heavy feeders.” So once you’ve planted the crop and are watering regularly, you will need to know how to fertilize — not only what to use but how often is necessary.

What to Use

For tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, I use Tomato-tone once a month and fish emulsion every two weeks.
In my experience this keeps plants healthy and harvests abundant.

I begin to fertilize about a week after I have settled my plants in the ground, which is amended with compost every Spring — another form of fertilizing. And, I continue throughout the summer as long as the plant is producing.

How to Use it

Starting with the Tomato-tone I sprinkle one and a half tablespoons in a circle around the plant about 4 to 6 inches out from the stem. Don’t get fertilizer on the leaves, it will burn the plant. Next I scratch the fertilizer into the soil gently. I use a small claw tool meant for houseplants that gets in between and around the plants easily. You can use anything, even the tip of a trowel. Don’t go too deep. You can damage the roots.

Next I mix one tablespoon of fish emulsion into a gallon of water and circle the plant the same way. This product isn’t pleasant to smell, but all my vegetables seem to thrive with it.

Finally, I water. If you can time your fertilizing to coincide with a rainy day and let Mother nature water, that’s even better.

The last step is to note in your garden journal the date and what you used. Good records help you keep track of maintenance.

A common error is to add too much fertilizer. I think it’s the “If some is good, more must be better” syndrome. Too much fertilizer will produce lush green-leafy plants with little vegetable production. That’s not the result we want.

Our goal is a thriving, productive garden.