Navy Helps with Event Preparations

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 11.58.50 AMThe Navy is good to us and willing to help in so many ways.

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 11.52.06 AMToday, volunteers painted Bill’s Barn and worked on some of the colorful face boards that will be displayed September 22 at the Fairy Gathering.

They also harvested vegetables and started scraping the horse barn.

A lot was going on. And that was all before noon!

Thank you all. We couldn’t do it without you.

 

Growing Buckwheat to Improve Soils

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This is the second crop of buckwheat growing in the area where we will likely add new garden plots next season.  Soon, this field will be blooming in white and buzzing with honeybees.

Gardeners have asked what does buckwheat do for us?

It improves it by providing quick cover and suppressing weeds, it attracts good insects,  and it makes otherwise unavailable phosphorus available.

“The roots of the plants produce mild acids that release nutrients from the soil. These acids also activate slow-releasing, organic fertilizers, such as rock phosphate. Buckwheat’s dense, fibrous roots cluster in the top 10 inches of soil, providing a large root surface area for nutrient uptake,” a publication of the Cooperative Extension system. Complete article: https://articles.extension.org/pages/18572/buckwheat-for-cover-cropping-in-organic-farming

We will be tilling the buckwheat into our soil to add organic matter. The nutrients will enrich and enhance what we have. In the meantime, honeybees and other beneficial insects  such as hover flies, predatory wasps, lady beetles visit the buckwheat and help maintain the garden’s health.

Picture Perfect Sunday in the Gardens

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The day was dawning, the air was calm with a bit of a chill foreshadowing what is to come as we approach September.

As the sun rose, the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens were a peaceful sanctuary abundant with vegetables and rows upon rows of blooming sunflowers.

I watered the spinach seeds planted yesterday for a fall harvest, tidied up the pathways and looked over the crops being grown in every plot. There is so much variety including kale, lettuce, corn, tomatoes, watermelons, zinnias and herbs.  The gardens look amazing, the harvest has been wonderful, and the butterflies breathtaking.

Thank you great gardeners who grow here for your helpfulness and your attention to your plots.

I am grateful, Natalie

Pretty Milkweed Caterpillar

This is a photo of a milkweed tussock moth.

It looks like tufting from an oriental rug.

This is this caterpillar’s pretty stage. When it matures, it is a brown gray tiger moth. Dull and uninteresting.

What is interesting about this hairy caterpillar is that, like a Monarch, it feeds on milkweed. And the cardiac glycosides in the milkweed make it an unappealing meal to its primary predator, the bat.

But the really curious part is the milkweed tiger moth emits an ultrasonic signal that is readily picked up by bats. The bats have learned to associate that sound with a bad taste in their mouths and avoid the tiger moth as a meal.

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Thanks, Jess for finding this beauty and sharing its picture.

Bad News for Tomato Hornworms, Good News for Us

Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 7.30.40 AMWhat are those white ovals on this tomato hornworm found in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens?

They are the pupating cocoons of braconid wasps and a welcome sight in the garden. The wasp is a beneficial parasite that lays its eggs on the hornworm.

As they grow, they feed on the hornworm. Once the wasps emerge, the hornworm dies and the wasps look for another hornworm to repeat the cycle.

It is good to see our gardens are a good habitat for the wasp, which will help us keep tomato hornworms out of the garden.

Navy Volunteers in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens

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The Navy has consistently been a big help in the community gardens and we thank them for all that they do.

Today, we painted the barn, raked the pathways. edged the grandmother’s gardens, weeded and artistically painted a monarch face-cut-out-board for the Fairy Gathering on Sept. 22.  There’s no challenge they can’t take on.

Note in the photo above how they wore their sunflower yellow shirts.  It doesn’t get better. Thank you.

 

Butterflies in the Community Gardens

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We have created a wonderful habitat for butterflies at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.  Pictured above is the caterpillar of the Eastern Swallowtail butterfly,  photographed by Margie I. on Saturday.

We also have several Monarchs in the caterpillar stage in the butterfly garden.

It is so nice to see.

 

Fairy Gathering Wish List

Things we need:
Grapevine with leaves removed, ribbons for fairy wands, beads, corn hole games and forest finds for fairy houses.
Leave them on the west side of the gardener’s shed at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.
We also need volunteers to help Sept. 22, the day of the gathering. Let us know if you can help.
Thank you, Natalie

Navy Volunteers Get the Job Done

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The task at hand is the painting of Bill’s Barn, a building we use for gatherings at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

Above are two of our Navy volunteers, Rebecca and Taylor.  The Navy has been helpful in so many ways and are valued volunteers on the farm.

We couldn’t do it without you.  Thank you.

Future Equine Doctor Mends Toy Horse’s Leg

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A few days ago, this young horse lover found a white toy horse missing a leg in the Pitney Meadows Community Garden’s toy farm. She also found the leg.

Taylor, who frequents the garden with her mother Lauren, asked is she could take the horse and leg home to see if she could do “something to help.”

This morning, the five-year-old brought the white horse back. She explained that surgery had been necessary and had gone very well. Taylor, who hopes to be a veterinarian one day, told her mother this had been “her first real work.”

She did an outstanding job. To mend the break, she crafted a rod from a paper clip and inserted it into the hollow leg.  A glue was applied. Back in its corral on the farm, Taylor made sure the horse had water before leaving.

Well done Taylor. You are on your way to being a fine vet and your gentle, loving care was greatly appreciated.