Sunflower Contest

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 6.24.56 PM.pngSo far, seven young people have planted Mammoth sunflower seeds for our “Grow the Tallest Sunflower” contest.

If you would like to enter, come to the farm, 235 West Avenue, between 3 and 5 Thursday or Friday or from 9 to noon on Saturday and plant your seeds. There are free seeds for you to grow.

I hope to see you in the garden.

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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.

 

What was in the Bug Jar?

There were two insects in the bug jar this morning.

The first was a leaf miner larvae.  It is a yellow larvae about a half inch long and, depending on the species, feeds on Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, broccoli raab, potato, bean, tomatoes, peppers and beets.

You know you have them in the garden if the leaves of your plants have squiggly paths tunneled into them. To control,  remove the infected leaf (insect is inside) and throw it in the trash.

For more information: http://plantdiagnostics.umd.edu/level3.cfm?causeID=266

The other insect was the larvae of a white cabbage moth, which attacks all brassicas.

The specimens in the jar were desiccated so I suggest you look online to find photos.

If  you see them in the garden, pick them off and discard.

Cool as a Cucumber

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.

Family Gardening Program – Week Two

There is a lot to do in the garden this time of year.

Today 80  young gardeners worked on: starting a new flower bed, mulching the broccoli so it doesn’t bolt,  sowing beans, weeding and water. When each group finished their working bee, we relaxed under the trees with a glass of ice, cold basil lemonade made from herbs growing in our garden.

The basil lemonade was a hit. One camper said the flavor was “distinctive,” another camper thought it tasted “like the garden” and most campers enjoyed it and asked for second and thirds.

Here is the Recipe:

One packed cup  of basil leaves washed well. Put leaves into the blender with a cup of water and puree on high. Once done, put this mixture through a strainer and into a large pticher of lemonade. Add the basil mix little by little until you reach the flavor you enjoy. It is that easy and very refreshing.

EARTH MOVERS

We could use some help with the dirt pile near the parking lot. The goal is to level it off so we can plant flowers. It was hard work for the kids. Anyone willing to help, please do. Your efforts are very much appreciated.

PLANTS

If anyone is dividing plants, please think of us. We are creating a pollinator friendly garden.  The new bed is in full sun and we hope to  grow yarrow, coneflower, Liatris, evening primrose, phlox, and asters. If you have any of these plants and can share, they would be greatly appreciated. Thank you to all my generous gardening friends.

MAKING A BIRD BATH

At noon today adult gardeners made a concrete bird bath from a leaf.

Gna LeClair lead this project and started by making a sand dome on a sheet of plywood. This forms the bird bath. Plastic was spread over the dome and a hosta leaf was put face down on top.

Gina LeClair lead this project and started by making a sand dome on a sheet of plywood. This forms the  basin of the bird bath.
Plastic was spread over the dome and a hosta leaf was put face down on top.

Then you being to add the concrete on top of the host leaf.

Then you  adda moth textured concrete – not the kind with aggregate – on top of the hosta leaf.

Keep going until the leaf is completely covered.

Keep going until the leaf is completely covered. And then let it dry for at least 48 hours.

These baths look charming in a garden and attract butterflies and insect-eating birds.   I will take a photo of the finished project next week.

Hope to see you in the garden.  And thank you for contributing to the success of the garden.

Natalie, Master Gardener and Moreau Community Garden’s Garden  Coach

 

Basil Downy Mildew

The weather can be blamed – at least in part – for the occurrence of basil downy mildew in the garden.

If you aren’t sure your plants have it, here are the signs:

You notice the leaves are yellowing and then the plant gets brown areas. The underside of the leaf appears to be dirty with some white spots you can see with a magnifying glass.

For more information: http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/NewsArticles/BasilDowny.html

If your basil plant has it, harvest what you can and throw the rest of the plant in the trash….not the compost bins.

Next year, plant basil somewhere else in the 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.

It’s June…Watch for Squash Bugs

SquashbugsIf you’re growing melons, gourds, cucumber, summer squash, zucchini, pumpkins, winter squash, you will want to read this. Those vegetables are called cucurbits and this is the time of year they are vulnerable to squash bugs looking to lay their eggs.

Squash bugs are sap-sucking insects that lay clusters of copper-colored eggs on the underside of leaves. 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 – which is kept under the bulletin board. Be vigilant. These insects will start to appear this month.

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 seek shelter around the base of plants, this area should be kept clear. No weeds. If the pathway around your plot has weeds, remove them.

If you find you have squash bugs, an application of a 1/4 cup of Diatomaceous earth around the stalk of the plant can help control this pest. 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

Scarecrow Construction and Costume Ideas

I’ve started working on lesson plans for the Family Gardening Program at Moreau Community Garden. Not only do we walk through the gardens weeding, watering and looking for anything out of the ordinary, we also take steps to keep our garden entertaining, safe and looking good.

And I can’t think of a better source of fun than a scarecrow.

Scarecrows have been used for centuries to keep crows from the crops. Our garden might not need to scare off crows, but a scarecrow will be a friendly addition sure to bring a smile.

Since I’m new to scarecrow construction I went to the internet, did some research and found a suitable sturdy form. It has two legs for support and then the typical cross shape for the torso, arms and head. Once the stakes are in the ground, our scarecrow should stand strong. Here’s my drawing, which is open to suggestions and revisions. Scarecrow

I have collected a shirt, jeans and was offered burlap for the head. I have buttons for eyes. And someone offered me a fake mustache. We still need gumboots, gloves, a hat, a belt and maybe a bandana. What do you think?

If possible, I’d like our scarecrow to have a change of clothes….for example, a team shirt, a Hawaiian print shirt, a jacket for special occasions, a cowboy outfit. Something that will make people laugh when they see our “dapper” scarecrow. Ideas are welcome.

Research on scarecrow “inners” determined that straw was the material of choice and stuffing plastic grocery bags with the straw made stuffing the scarecrow easy for children to handle. It also keeps the center dry.

We will first fill bags with straw, tie them closed, then stuff the shirt, pants, etc. I will need to collect plastic bags and if any gardeners have some to spare, please bring them to the garden and leave them in the shed. Also, if anyone wants to donate a bale of straw, we would appreciate that.

This should be fun.

Once he is made, we should have a contest to come up with a name! Send in your thoughts and we can take a vote. The person whose name gets the most votes, names the scarecrow.

Thank you all.

Natalie