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.

 

What Should We Name Our Scarecrow?

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Six names have been nominated for our scarecrow.

They are Bill, Mr. Pit, Fred, Field, Joe and Strawvinsky.

There is a chalkboard outdoors on the east side of the Pitney Meadows Community Garden shed and chalk on the sill.

Cast your vote by putting a check next to the name you like best. I will tally the results and post the winning name.

Another scarecrow joke:

What is a scarecrow’s favorite fruit?

Straw-berries!

Vegetables Donated to Franklin Community Center’s Food Pantry

kaleIn total, 5 grocery bags of beautiful greens and fresh vegetables from the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens were delivered to the Franklin Community Center food pantry this morning.

In the bags were several heads of lettuce, bunches of Swiss Chard and Kale leaves, a few tomatoes, some wonderfully fragrant basil, yellow banana peppers, and several pounds of zucchini and summer squash. Julie Slovic,  FCC’s Food Program Administrator, was pleased to accept the fresh vegetables.

This was the Community Gardens second delivery to FCC.  These vegetables are grown in plots designated for this purpose in the community gardens and tended by gardeners as part of an initiative to provide healthy fresh vegetables to those in need.

 

Welcoming Butterflies

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Kay S. took this image of a monarch caterpillar on a milkweed plant in her raised bed.

Monarchs have been on the decline due to extreme weather conditions that devastated monarch populations, loss of habitat and use of herbicides. Planting milkweed helps support these fluttering beauties as they need milkweed to survive. Their caterpillars, like the one pictured, only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.). Monarch butterflies seek out milkweed plants to lay their eggs.

In the gardens this July, I spotted about a handful of Monarchs in total. Next year, why don’t we plant a bed of milkweed to support monarch populations and their migration? What do you think?

Art Classes for Children

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Art classes for children age 6 to 14 will be held on August 12, 19 and 26th at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens starting at 9 a.m.

On August 12 and 26, children will be able to draw and paint flowers and bugs in the garden under the guidance of two local artists Martel Catalano and Nancy Hicks who are also gardeners in the community gardens.

On August 19th, Saratoga Springs artist and retired teacher Judy Brunner will lead a class on creating huge sunflowers out of paper. They are gorgeous. Children will be able to enter the sunflower house and see how the walls are growing.

Parents are expected to stay during the art classes which will run an hour, and everyone is welcome to remain in the garden after the class to complete their art work or just enjoy the surrounding beauty. Supplies will be provided, but if you would like to bring your own, that’s fine too.

The art created can be entered in the Sept. 16th art show in the Community Gardens.
Screen Shot 2017-07-29 at 12.23.49 PM.pngThe show will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Paintings, drawings and photographs are all eligible. To register for the classes or enter the art show contact Natalie Walsh at natalie.walsh@pitneymeadows.org

Class size is limited so early registration is advised.

Adults and children are welcome to come draw, paint or take photographs in the garden anytime from dawn to dusk.

The garden is lovely and the farmland is breathtaking. Sunflowers just started blooming this week and will continue to bloom until fall.

Come see.

Girl Scouts Rock the Herb Garden

Earlier this season, the girl scouts made colorful rock markers for our community herb garden, which is located near the garden shed. Each rock bears the name of a different herb.

This weekend, with the help of friends and siblings, the girl scouts placed the markers in the raised beds, planted herb seeds and watered them in.

Thank you all. The markers look festive and happy in the raised beds. A job well done.

All PMCG gardeners are welcome to come and cut a few herbs from these two beds as soon as they grow a little. We have parsley, sage, dill, thyme, lemon verbena, rosemary, cilantro, borage, chives, basil, savory, Greek oregano, marjoram and more growing for all to enjoy. Take a look next time you are in the garden.

 

 

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.

What Does Our Scarecrow Need?

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 4.34.03 PM.pngWhat would make this scarecrow better?

A hat? hair? gloves? boots? a belt?

Right now, he looks like he needs a little something.

Your suggestions are welcome.  We will work on him again next Saturday – July 29th – at 9 a.m. And then, set him in the new sunflower area.

And, I will have the frame for another child-size scarecrow ready to dress and stuff. If you want to add something – clothing, a hat, a necklace – to this scarecrow, bring it along.

We look forward to seeing you in the garden.

 

Tomato Taste Testing Potluck Plan

 

For several years, I held a tomato taste testing garden party. Guests would try different varieties, compare the attributes and select the one they liked best. The following year, I grew the “best” along with new choices and repeated the event.  Everyone loved to be in on the fun.

So why not do it again? This year, I spoke with chef Rocco Verrigni, one of our supporters, and he’s on board to help host a tomato taste testing potluck when the tomatoes ripen. How great is that!

There are more than a dozen different varieties of tomatoes in the community gardens for our future dining pleasure.

Following is a brief write-up about six of the tomatoes. I’ll write about the other six in the near future.

Fourth of July – one of the earliest varieties of non-cherry tomatoes. Matures in 65 days or less and produces many fruits. Flavor is considered better than average. Some people commented online that the skin is thick. We can see what we think.

Black Beauty – Very dark in color, almost blue-black heirloom. It is meaty, fleshy and reportedly very tasty.  Online commenters said this was a great tasting tomato with a rich, smooth earthy flavor.

Berkeley Tie-Dye –  I can’t wait to you see this heirloom. In photos it looks tie-dyed with dark wine red and green stripes. The flavor of the 8 to 12 ounce fruits are reportedly very sweet and rich.

Abe Lincoln –  Mother Earth News said, these “tomatoes are large, meaty, flavorful heirloom tomatoes. There are many exceptional heirloom tomatoes, but ‘Abraham Lincoln’ consistently produces huge crops of extra large, meaty fruit.”

San Marzano – This is a well-known and well-regarded Italian cooking tomato. Long fruit filled with thick, dry flesh and few seeds make this a good choice for sauces or canning.

Defiant – This tomato has three things going for it right off the bat. It ripens early, it is disease resistant and the flavor is good. If you research this one, you’ll find it is resistant  to late blight, early blight, fusarium wilt, and verticillium wilt. Impressive.

Brian Wilson from Trak Rentals you’re invited to the potluck. Thank you so much for the use of the auger to get our raised beds in place.

Special thank you to Murray Penney and Robert Curry. They started these tomatoes early in the season and provided transplants to us and all the community gardeners.