Participants Reap the Benefits of Harvesting Class

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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.

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Girl Scouts Grow Food for Franklin Community Center Pantry

Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 10.55.38 AM.pngBrownie troop 3031 has a plot in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens and recently donated green beans to the Franklin Community Center’s food pantry.

Troop leader Jen Kirchhnerr has found that recycled plastic containers are a great way to deliver the beans and other vegetables to the pantry.

These are the sort of container that strawberries, blueberries and the like are typically sold in at the supermarket.

Kirchhnerr cleans and washes the containers and reuses them when harvesting for the food pantry.

“They are a convenient size for handing out to a family,” she said.

It’s a good tip. If any gardeners have containers like these and would like to share them, you can leave the cleaned containers in the garden shed. We will use them when harvesting and sharing.

Thanks Jen for your tip!Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 10.55.19 AM

Launching a Squash Bug Campaign

You know you’re a plant geek when you lounge poolside, frozen watermelon mint lemonade in hand and research organic methods of trapping squash bugs.

One google search “Are squash bugs attracted to light?” brought a positive result.

Gardeners reported their porch lights attracted squash bugs and this got my wheels turning.

Maybe I could create a trap that lured squash bugs using a light source and somehow keep them from crawling back out.

So I took a large plastic soda bottle and cut the top one-third off. This funnel shape would be placed spout side down into the bottle. I had tiny tea lights that I could use as a light source and put one at the bottom.

With luck, the squash bugs would see light at the end of the funnel and follow it to their demise.

Then I headed to the community gardens. Martel gave me the OK to use her plot for the experiment. We caught squash bugs there in the last two days.

I was concerned the squash bugs, because of their size, could manage to get out of the trap so I used sticky Tanglefoot to coat the outside of the funnel. This helped also to create a seal between the funnel and the side of the bottle.

Next, I put some tape strips around the bottle to give the squash bugs something to crawl on. A ‘pathway’ to the top of the bottle and into the trap just in case the plastic bottle is too slick for them to cling to.

I dug a hole and inserted the base of the bottle. The hole is under the zucchini leaves as this is where squash bugs hang out.

Now, I wait.

Tomorrow morning I will head to the farm and count how many bugs we catch.

Our other experiment, the yellow cup faux blossom traps caught near 100 cucumber beetles in one plot alone.

 

 

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.

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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.

 

Tomato Hornworms in the Garden

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This morning, I found tomato hornworms, Manduca quinquemaculata, on a single tomato plant in one of the raised beds.

These are destructive caterpillars that will defoliate a plant very quickly and decimate your tomatoes. They also like to devour peppers, potatoes and eggplants.

Here’s what to look for: black turds, defoliation of the tender top leaves and a green caterpillar that is both fascinating and disgusting at the same same.

Usually there are many turds on a leaf or on the ground. If you see this, start looking for the hornworms, which can be up to four-inches long. They are called hornworms because they have a black “horn” on the last abdominal segment.

Handpick hornworms from infested plants and remove them from the garden.

Hornworms become a moth commonly known as a hummingbird, hawk, or sphinx moth.

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Enter a captionDamage down by Tomato Hornworms