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.

Children Make Worm Farms at Pitney Meadows Community Gardens

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 2.35.57 PMSunflower Hour at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens this morning began with story time and ended with children making worm farms to take home.

After the stories children held wriggler worms and set some free in the gardens. Those children who wanted made farms from empty soda bottles and layers of sand and soil.

Watermelon was added as worm food and dark construction paper wrapped the bottles to simulate underground conditions. Later this week, children can remove the paper and study the underground tunnels made by the worms.

Sunflower Team

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 2.41.30 PM.pngFaye Mihuta read the books. Retired teacher, master gardener and worm composter Jay Ephraim lead the hands-on worm program for about 10 children. And the team, both of whom are community gardeners,  worked together with Jess Clauser, also a community gardener, to create the worm farms.

It was terrific. The children were delighted and eager to participate.

Blueberry jam

Next week, the reading program will focus on blueberries and  the activity will be making blueberry freezer jam with Diane Whitten from Cornell Cooperative Extension. The jam class, at 10 a.m., is $5 which covers all supplies. The story time is free and begins at 9:30 a.m.

Please let us know if you are coming to make jam. The class is open to both children and adults. We will be purchasing supplies, and need a head count by Tuesday.

Thank you, Natalie Walsh

Garden Director, Pitney Meadows Community Gardens

natalie.walsh@pitneymeadows.org

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.

Harvesting Time

Look what we are harvesting in our gardens.

Thus far, the Pitney Meadows community gardeners have harvested loads of lettuce, kale, basil, dill, chives, Egyptian onions, sugar snap peas and there’s plenty more to come!

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.

 

 

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

Progress Made on Shed and Barn

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.16.38 AM

Notice what’s different on the barn?

The big barn door is back on and it slides easily to open.

Thank you to all who were involved.

The photo also shows the area that will be graded for parking spaces and handicapped access to the barn, which will be used for workshops and classes.

Shed

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.16.05 AM.pngAnd, check out the shed. Rich Torkelson has made the shed exterior come back to life and Jim Gold has been tireless with priming, spackling, caulking and painting.

Other volunteers worked on cleaning windows, sweeping, priming. fixing window boxes and more.

Thank you all.

The results are a building that went from worn to wonderful.

She looks pretty now.

Someone asked me how I know it’s a she. Because it’s a SHE d.

See you in the garden.

Natalie

Fairy Garden, Photo Exhibit and Art Show Today from 2 to 4 pm

Sun2There is a lot happening today at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens, 223 West Avenue in Saratoga Springs.

Local photographer Tom Stock has an exhibit of Pitney Farm photos exhibited in the barn.  The Girl Scouts have created an extensive fairy village within a colorful border of flowers with little houses, pathways and treasures sure to delight.

And the children who experience the garden through art will have their art work on display in front of the sunflowers. Prizes will be awarded.

We will also have organically grown, dried sunflower heads that can be used to feed the birds or for flower arrangements and fall centerpieces on sale as a fundraiser for future events including a Spring fairy garden with mini-daffodils.  Treat your birds to this protein and mineral rich food and help support the gardens.

Contest

The Mammoth sunflowers grown as part of the Grow the Tallest Sunflower Contest will be measured and prizes award. That happens at 2:15 this afternoon.

Come join the fun today from 2 to 4 in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens and see what has been accomplished the first season.

I hope to see you in the garden.

Natalie Walsh, Garden Director

 

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.