What a Great Morning in the Community Gardens

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 12.01.22 PMThere was a lot happening in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens this morning.

Faye Mihuta read books to about a dozen children as part of the Sunflower Hour held each Saturday in the gardens.

Then Jess Clauser helped those who wanted to plant flowers in the Children’s Flower Garden as well as in peat cups they could take home.  It was wonderful to see children participating in all aspects of gardening and exploring the plots.

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 12.01.35 PMAnd not everyone participated in the program. The sandbox, play farm and a toy excavator saw a lot of use much to everyone’s delight. Great photo opportunity for grandmother.

Compost Tea

We had the great pleasure of having Chris Cameron, an organic gardener and supporter of PMCG,  in the gardens this morning to talk about the benefits of compost tea and how to make tea at home.

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 12.17.39 PMChris explained how using compost tea improves the soil by promoting healthy bacteria and other microorganisms that nurture strong, robust plants.

Thank you Chris. Your enthusiasm is inspiring and your lecture was informative.

If you want a copy of Chris’ handout, it will be available in the gardener’s shed.

And if you see Chris on the farm, feel free to ask him questions about compost tea.  He has been brewing for years and can show you the positive results in the plants he has been treating in the community gardens.

I’m so glad Chris is part of the team!

Gardening Class

After Chris, my lecture for our Gardening class was about what to do to minimize damage done by the cucumber beetles, squash bugs, cabbage loopers and the cutworms we found in the gardens this week.

About 10 participants learned how to identify the insects, the different ways to apply diatomaceous earth as a control and all had access to the organic remedies to use. They also learned how to find squash beetle eggs on the underside of leaves and how to remove them.

Finally, we talked about fertilizing. It is now time to fertilize with an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion. Check your bottle, for my gardens I use 1 ounce in a two-gallon watering can and apply it to the soil every week for robust vegetables.

My bottle has an NPK of 2-4-1.  If the brand you have as a higher concentration of nutrients, you can treat it every other week. Watch your plants and how they respond. They will “talk” to you with a rich, green color, strong stems and vigorous fruiting.

Our next class is next Saturday.  All are welcome. 

Like today, we will walk through the garden and discuss what is happening and what we can do to keep the garden strong and robust.

I will also be working in the gardens on Thursdays from 8 to 11. You can come and see me then about chores to do or any garden concern.

Thanks for making this place great.

See you in the gardens, Natalie Walsh

What’s Happening in Our Gardens

 

See that beetle in the center of the flower? It’s a cucumber beetle.  The yellow traps worked well, but the number of beetles currently in the garden plots means we should step up our game and use another organic remedy: diatomaceous earth (DE).

DE is made up of sharp-edged fossils and is an organic solution to problems with ants, cucumber beetles, cutworms among other pests.  We have spotted these three in our gardens. It also kills pillbug, for the gardener that was looking for a solution for her home garden.

Purchase food grade DE and you should have no trouble finding it at the big box stores or garden centers. You can also order it from Amazon.  Follow the label instructions and dust the plant leaves, flowers and where the stem comes out of the soil. Don’t do it if it is windy, wait for a calm day.

Beetles need to cross the dust to be eradicated. Repeat after a rain.

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Septoria Leaf Spot

I spotted Septoria Leaf Spot in one garden plot this morning. The best way to deal with it is to stay ahead of it.  Remove the diseased leaves immediately and take them out of the garden, don’t compost.

If you can improve the air flow around the plant, do so.

Water only at the base of the plant…not overhead and add a mulch under the plant to keep any spores from splashing onto the leaves.

Then spray with copper fungicide, which is available at garden centers.  Pitney Meadows Community Gardeners can only use a copper fungicide as we are an organic garden.

Late Blight has been confirmed in NYS and using a copper fungicide as a preventative will help keep this problem at bay.

Plants will need to be sprayed every 10 days. Follow label instructions.

Cutworm

I left a cutworm in a jar on the counter so everyone can look at it.  If you find an insect that you need help identifying, leave it in the clean jar on the counter and I will tell you what it is.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need help.

On Saturday morning at 9:30, I will walk around the gardens and discuss any issues. Also Chris Cameron will be on hand to talk about the benefits of compost tea.

 

Cutworms Found after Chewing through the base of a Pepper Plant

cutwormWhen a gardener asked me to look at their pepper plant that had died in a day, I had my suspicions on who might be involved.

“It was growing nicely and the following morning was wilted,” he said.

Cutworms. These are the larvae of a variety of  different night-flying moths. And while the moths differ the modus operandi is the same.

A healthy robust plant dies overnight. Upon inspection, the stem is severed near the base.

Cutworms feed on a wide variety of plants including peppers, beans, lettuces, carrots, cabbage, corn or tomatoes. If you think your plant has been attacked, move the earth around the base and look for two things:

1 – A cut right through the stem where it was chewed at the base or just below the soil line.

2 – The culprit who did it. Cutworms don’t flee the scene and can often be found at the base of the plant hiding in the soil within a foot of the plant. Sure enough, the inch-and-a-half caterpillar pictured above was curled up in the soil.

If you find them, you can squish them or throw them in soapy water. But don’t leave them. They have pretty big appetites.

To protect your remaining plants from other cutworms, make a 4-inch collar from a toilet paper roll sliced open and place it around the base of the stem.  I stick it in the soil about an inch or so and let the rest circle the stem.

Another trick it to sprinkle coffee grounds, crushed egg shells bits or diatomaceous earth around the plants.

 

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