Girl Scouts Rock the Herb Garden

Earlier this season, the girl scouts made colorful rock markers for our community herb garden, which is located near the garden shed. Each rock bears the name of a different herb.

This weekend, with the help of friends and siblings, the girl scouts placed the markers in the raised beds, planted herb seeds and watered them in.

Thank you all. The markers look festive and happy in the raised beds. A job well done.

All PMCG gardeners are welcome to come and cut a few herbs from these two beds as soon as they grow a little. We have parsley, sage, dill, thyme, lemon verbena, rosemary, cilantro, borage, chives, basil, savory, Greek oregano, marjoram and more growing for all to enjoy. Take a look next time you are in the garden.



Playing with Food: Radish Mice


When around 4-years-old, my child heard the Marvin Gaye song “Everybody Plays the Fool” only my sweet young one sang:

“Everybody plays with food sometimes
There’s no exception to the rule, listen baby
It may be factual, it may be cruel, I ain’t lying
Everybody plays with food.”

It brought a smile to my face then and still does. The catchy version has become a family classic we continue to sing every once in while to this day.

Radish Mice

You may want to try singing it today if you decide to make a little radish mouse. These look great on a cheese plate or around a crudite platter. And, they are easy to make.

Start with a radish that has the root attached. The root is the mouse’s tail.

Trim the mouse’s under belly with a paring knife so it is steady and reserve the cut off slice. This can often be used as ears.  With the mouse I made, the piece was too large to be ears so I cut into another radish for two ear slices.

With the paring knife, make two deep slits into the mouse head where the ears will go. Slide the ears in. They should stay in place.

Use cloves or peppercorns for the eyes. It is easiest to use a toothpick to make a hole before trying to push the eyes in place.

That’s it. You did it. Like the song almost says,

Everybody plays with food sometimes.

After the Rain

The gardens after the today’s rain are a satisfying place to be.

They are filled to the brim with beauty.

Every plant has bathe in the moisture and are the better for it. We gardeners water but rain has a special magic.

The tiny sunflowers on the west side have poked their little plump leaves up through the soil. They germinated in only six days and now the rows of half-inch tall plants hold the promise of cheerful, yellow blooms on tall stalks later in the season.

Walking about, the zucchinis are flourishing and the Swiss chard, kale and lettuce are ready to be harvested. Basil looks like it enjoyed the rain and the frilly tops of tiny carrot seedlings carpet certain beds.

Many plants are showing their fruits and colorful combinations.  More promises of good things to come.

Tomorrow, I will be working in the garden.

I hope to see you there, Natalie


What Does Our Scarecrow Need?

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 4.34.03 PM.pngWhat would make this scarecrow better?

A hat? hair? gloves? boots? a belt?

Right now, he looks like he needs a little something.

Your suggestions are welcome.  We will work on him again next Saturday – July 29th – at 9 a.m. And then, set him in the new sunflower area.

And, I will have the frame for another child-size scarecrow ready to dress and stuff. If you want to add something – clothing, a hat, a necklace – to this scarecrow, bring it along.

We look forward to seeing you in the garden.


Judy Brunner’s Mini Farm

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 12.53.36 PM.pngThe Saratogian has an article on Judy Brunner’s mini-farm.

Judy, an artist and retired Saratoga Springs teacher, grew up on a farm and knew just the right touches to add to her mini-farm.

You can link to the article here:  Saratogian Mini-farm

On Saturday, the farm will be set up and ready for adults to see and for children to come and play.


Is It Too Late to Plant from Seed?


greenbeanNot at all.

What can you plant now and in August?

The answer is quite a bit. Here goes:


Bush beans are easiest as they don’t require staking. Try planting seeds of a different variety each week and do a taste test to determine what you like best. Stop sowing beans seeds in early August.


If you plant now, you will harvest a fall crop.

Again, I would select a bush cucumber plant because space tends to be at a premium in a raised bed. If you have the room, go for a vining cucumber. Chefs tell me they are tastier.


In mid- August sow lettuce seeds for a fall crop. I have plenty of lettuce seeds available in the community garden shed. Look for the days to harvest to determine what lettuce seeds are best to grow.


From mid-July through mid-August plant seeds of kale for harvest in the fall.


Spinach likes it cool. Start from seed in mid to late August.



The harvest will be modest for August planting green peas and sugar peas. But, if you have the room, go for it. Did you know Thomas Jefferson use to compete with his farm neighbors to see who could harvest the earliest peas? The winner hosted a dinner serving (what else?) some peas.


This is a quick growing vegetable. They are ready to be harvested in a month.

Anyone have some good radish recipes?


Powdery Mildew and What to Do

Coffee in hand, I wandered the gardens very early this morning.

I looked for animal tracks near our beds, there were none.

I checked on the tiny pumpkin plants. They are still a little droopy but coming around. They will be fine.

Then I walked the pathways checking on the health and well being of the plants growing.  All was well but one.

A single zucchini plant has powdery mildew. While this is not surprising because of the wet weather, it needs to be tended to at once. I removed the diseased leaf and will connect with the bed’s gardener to let her know.


This photo is from another garden, but shows what PM looks like. The plant at PMCG was not heavily infested. 

What is Powdery Mildew?

The name is appropriate as the leaves and stems develop a white, powdery fungal growth that is made up of asexual spores called conidia. Conidia are airborne, can travel long distances and can reproduce rapidly under favorable conditions such as the high humidity we have been experiencing. The length of time between infection and visible symptoms is 3 days to a week, which is not long at all.

PM typically begins on leaves that are tender, the undersides of a leaf and lower leaves.  In short time, the infected leaves develop white areas that some say look like a plant was dusted with flour.

In the future, if you are buying seed or plants, look for varieties with genetic resistance. Resistance doesn’t mean the plant won’t get fungal issues. Think of it like humans having a strong immune system. Those with a strong immune system are better able to fight off maladies.

 What to Do Now

If you are growing susceptible plants such as zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and other cucurbits. The same copper fungicide that we used for septoria leaf blight works for powdery mildew and should be applied every 7-10 days. Spray even the undersides of the leaves. Inspect your garden plants every time you are in the garden and be quick to get in touch if you think something is wrong.

The most critical time is when the plants begin fruiting. If you are growing the plants mentioned above, you may want to apply a fungicide or a home-made brew now.

Home-made PM Fungicide

Baking soda is an effective control but beware how much you use and what it is mixed with. Research at Cornell University found that baking soda mixed with horticultural oil “almost completely inhibited PM on heavily infected pumpkin foliage. Baking soda without spray oil was ineffective, and a 2% (wt./vol. of water) solution of baking soda damaged the leaves.” So follow the recipe. More is not better.

In one gallon of water, mix

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon oil (horticultural oil is thought best, but vegetable oil works, too)
  • 1 or 2 drops dishwashing liquid

Shake well and keep shaking between sprays. Apply to plants being diligent to spray leaves near the soil and the undersides of leaves.

Never apply any fungicides when the temperatures are above 80 degrees or in direct sun.


If you are curious about PM and want more information visit the Cornell University website:



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.


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


We need Volunteers Today!


Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 8.03.42 AMSix raised beds are in place and we need helpers to staple landscape fabric around the base as shown in the photo below.  Even if you can only give us an hour, it will help.  Please come and volunteer. We will be in the garden from 1 p.m. to at least 5 p.m.
This step moves us closer to getting the pathways down and the soil in the beds.  As of this morning, we have 25 raised beds built. Rich Torkelson will be there this afternoon moving us forward.  Yay!

Bring gloves and a staple gun if you have one. Hat and sunscreen, too.

Thank you.   Our volunteers have been incredible and we appreciate each and every one of you.

Great Plants

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.52.02 AMRobert Curry has grown tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers and eggplants that he is selling to the gardeners for $1. each.  The plants are beautiful, robust and healthy. This is a very generous offer.

Right now, the plants are near the silo.  You can pay Robert directly or add your money to the Robert C. honor jar near the plants.