Deer Fencing Installed Around Gardens

Screen Shot 2018-08-03 at 6.59.45 AMYesterday we installed an electric deer fence to protect the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens. The fence is on a timer and will be turned on from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

If you come to the gardens and see the fence cording is still up across the front walkway, enter through the alley between the Gardener’s Shed and Bill’s Barn.

OR

If the timer is off, you can lift the handle and disconnect the cord from the barn and walk through.

If you are in the gardens in the evening, and the last to leave, please re-hook the cord handle to the barn.

If we work together, we should be able to thwart the threat of deer entering our gardens.

So you know, deer hoof prints were seen in the parking lot and deer have been in other parts of the farm – sweet potatoes and the event garden. We took this action to protect the community gardeners from loss.  Please help us to keep the fence up and running.

Thank you.

And thank you to the team who helped us to install the fence: Nora, Jim, Gus, Andy, Mark, Bill, Ken and yours truly.

Natalie

 

Participants Reap the Benefits of Harvesting Class

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 10.50.56 AM

 

Master Gardener Kay Schlembach took gardeners through the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens last evening and gave them tips on when and how to harvest.  Participants were able to ask questions about harvesting their crops and learned the best time of day to pick the vegetables.

Do you know when?

Morning is preferred. Evening when it cools is second best.

Kay’s class is part of the community gardens’ adult programming organized by Margie Ingram.  The next two classes are:

Jam Making with Diane Whitten, which is open to adults and children. This class is tomorrow Saturday at 10 a.m. Space is limited.

The next adult class is being taught by Kim London and the topic is herbs. This class will be July 19 at 6:30 in the gardens.  All are welcome.

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

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

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.

 

.

What Gardeners Need to Know About Tonight’s Frost Advisory

There’s a frost advisory posted on the National Weather Service for our area tonight.  The prediction is temperatures in the 30s.

What this means for gardeners at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens depends on what you’re growing.

Some crops are sensitive to a light frost and you’ll want to harvest them today or you can cover them with a sheet tonight to protect them and take the sheet off in the morning. Other crops improve in flavor when the temperatures dip and there is no need to hurry out to the gardens to get those.

Frost sensitive vegetables include bush and pole beans, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and melons. Very sensitive herbs include basil, marjoram, dill, borage and chamomile.

Vegetables that will survive a light frost are broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, cilantro, mint, thyme, oregano and rosemary. The vines of pumpkins and squash will die, but the vegetables are fine.

A light freeze is 28°–32°F, and a hard freeze is below 28°F. In our area, the first hard frost typically happens in mid-October.  I say typically because our weather earlier this month was anything but typical.

On September 1, we had a light frost touch some of the plants, particularly squashes and pumpkins. This left vines damaged and happened in the lower areas of our community gardens.

 

 

The Plus Side of Frost 

There are vegetables you want to be touched by frost. Some vegetables, like beets, carrots, and parsnips get sweeter and will keep, even when temperatures fall lower, especially if you mulch. Other vegetables and herbs that will survive a frost include: kale, cabbage, leeks, potatoes, turnips, chives, parsley, sage, garlic, onions and Brussel Sprouts. If  you’re growing these, tonight’s weather shouldn’t be a factor.

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 11.20.15 AM.png

 

Do You Know When to Harvest Onions?

I was recently asked this question in the garden.

If you know the clues,  onions tell you.

When onions are mature, the tops yellow and naturally fall over.

When most of the onion planting has flopsy tops, harvest. To harvest dig around the bulbs, pull them up and cure them by spreading them on a surface where there is good ventilation. I have found using an old window screen as a shelf in the corner of the garage works well.

Let them dry for two to three weeks. You know they are ready when the tops are dry and the outer skin is paper dry, crisp to the touch.  Trim off the roots and tops.

If your harvest was abundant and you want to store some for winter, place them in a container with good air flow. Some people use mesh bags but a cardboard box with some holes cut through works too.

If the onions are kept cool, around 40 degrees, and away from sunlight they can last for months.

Gardener’s Tip: While you are harvesting onions, try not to bruise them. They will last longer.

 

 

Cucumber Question Answered

Gardeners have asked about yellowing cucumbers.

There are some varieties that are yellow skinned not green. For example,  Chinese Yellow Cucumber or the heirloom Lemon cucumber. We are not talking about those.

We’re talking about when a green skinned cucumber turns yellow. Most often, this can be attributed to a cucumber that has become over ripe.

Yellowing can also be the result of a nutrient imbalance or virus.

How can you figure out what is up with your plant?

If  your plant looks healthy, but the cucumbers are turning yellow, first suspect the most common problem, which is over ripening. A cucumber that is a little bit yellow is all right to eat but the more yellow it is, the more bitter it is and not fit for consumption.  You can tell a cucumber is ready to pick when it is firm, green, crisp and generally about 6 inches in length.

If the entire plant doesn’t look healthy suspect a nutrient deficiency.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed some of our vegetables needed fertilization and recommended using Plant-tone (organic).

If the application of fertilizer didn’t alleviate cucumber yellowing, please let me know. There are viruses that cause yellowing of cucumbers and leaves. Generally it is pretty obvious that something is seriously wrong. If you’re not sure, get in touch. We can figure it out together.

 

Good News, Not So Bad News, Bad News

The good news is our gardens are looking good.Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.09.55 AM

The not-so-bad news is there is still some septoria leaf spot and powdery mildew, so we need to stay on top of it.

Bad News

Multiple masses of squash bug eggs were found (see image below) on the underside of a patty pan squash leaf but they also will go after winter squash, zucchini, pumpkins, cucumbers and melons. Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.06.21 AM

These need to be removed promptly before the squash bugs hatch.

I take a tissue or paper towel and scrape the eggs off the plants.  Look for clusters of reddish eggs on the undersides of leaves and often close to the ground, but not always. Be thorough. Squash bugs can be a real pest to gardeners. They are aggressive feeders and will cause a plant to blacken and die.

If you find one cluster, examine the entire plant. There are likely to be other clusters.

Thank you, gardeners. By acting quickly, we should be able to control this pest.