What Can I Plant Now?

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 1.51.25 PMThis has been the question this week as gardeners pulled out lettuces and peas that are past prime and wondered how they can utilize the space in their raised beds at Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

Planting a Fall Garden

Our average first killing frost date (28 degrees) is October 15. But the weather is unpredictable so it is wise to add a buffer and think about the first killing frost as being Oct. 1.

On seed packets, it lists the days to maturity, which enables you to select the vegetables that have enough time to mature before the killing frost.

What can we plant now and in the next month?

We have 12 weeks until Oct. 1. about 80 days

We can direct sow beans, cucumbers, summer squash, Swiss chard, parsnips, rutabagas, cilantro, lettuce, spinach and radishes.

Some seeds are best started indoors now and transplanted outdoors in two weeks.  This includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi. Why? Because these seedlings like to start off in cooler soil than what we now have in the gardens.

July 21 – 10 weeks before Oct. 1 – 70 days

Direct sow beets, carrots, collards, leeks and scallions, lettuce and radishes. Start peas indoors and put out in two weeks.

Early August – 8 weeks before Oct. 1  – 56 days

Direct-sow arugula, lettuce, radishes, turnips, spinach, mustard, pac choi, Asian greens.

Mid August –  Direct sow spinach, mache, Swiss chard. – 42 days

You can extend the season with a row covers in the fall. So there’s plenty of time to grow many more vegetables.

Just remember that seedlings need lots of attention. The roots are small and you will need to water frequently until they are established.

Columbus Day weekend – plant garlic and shallots.

Volunteers and Gardeners Make the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens Look Fabulous

The pictures say it all. Volunteers were at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens this morning weeding and watering.  Thank you all. It looks beautiful.

If you’d like to see the gardens for yourself come on Saturday morning when we will be having a reading program for children. This week’s topic is worms and the reading program begins at 9:30.

At the same hour, Natalie Walsh will give a talk on succession planting and walk around the gardens answering questions.  All are welcome.

Eradicating Squash Bugs

Hi gardeners – I just got back from the gardens and all-in-all things look good.

We discovered squash bugs this week.  Mary Beth shared this great image of them:
Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 11.56.44 PM
These are the eggs they lay on the underside of leaves.
Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 8.21.46 AM
If you find the eggs, remove them with your fingernail or with a piece of duct tape wrapped inside out around your finger. Take them out of the garden and discard.
The next step would be to spray with diatomaceous earth (DE).  I left two full spray bottles on the counter. Shake well before using and spray both sides of the leaves only. Not the flowers. We don’t want to hurt our bees.
What damage do squash bugs do?
This insect feeds by sucking the sap of plants and in the process infecting plants with toxins that lead to the plant’s demise. Our best defense is to stay on top of it, remove the eggs and use DE.
If you see something in the garden and need information, contact me.
Observations
A few gardeners need to get to their weeding.  And, a few others, who have let their plants go to seed, may want to pull the flowering broccoli rabe, lettuce or arugula and plant a new crop.  Once they are flowering, the taste is more bitter.
I will be in the garden Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. And I will be teaching another class Saturday morning at 9:30.
Hope to see you in the gardens,
Natalie Walsh, Garden Director

ByWard Market Shopping in Ottawa

 

I stumbled upon a farmers’ market in the ByWard district while traveling recently in Ottawa, Canada and couldn’t believe my good fortune.

Here I was with gorgeous fruits and vegetables displayed in front of me on a street that also had shops selling French pastries, hot coffee, wines, loaves of fresh breads and cheeses from around the world.

The farmers were friendly. The aromas appealing.

If I lived there, I would shop this street every day.

 

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.

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:

Beans

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.

carrotsCarrots

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

Cucumbers
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.
lettuce

Lettuce

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.

Kale 

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

Spinach

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

 

Peas

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.

Radish

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

Anyone have some good radish recipes?

 

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

 

Garden Tips

One of the observations our gardeners have made is how quickly our community garden soil dries out.

One solution to this is to mulch. You’ll notice some gardeners have placed straw or pine needles* around the base of the plants.

This is a worthy idea for a few reasons.

It will keep moisture down around the roots, weeds will have a harder time growing, and during rain storms the soil will not splash up onto the leaves which makes for healthier plants.

When you do water, water well to promote good strong root systems that go deep. This will help your plants be healthier and healthy plants are able to fend off troubles.

You can also plant flowers – like marigolds – around the base and carrots love to be planted near tomatoes. Beans are a worthy crop, too.

If you have other questions, let me know.

• Pine needles used around our plants as mulch will not impact the pH. The acidic level of dried pine straw (needles) is very, very low.