Real Gardeners at Work

potato

Today, the young gardeners did an amazing job in the Moreau Community Garden.

Among the activities were: spotting the eggs, larvae and adult Colorado Potato Beetles.   There were dozens of these in the garden.  The eagle-eyed gardeners noticed that searching around a chewed leaf usually yielded some results.  Good detective work.

Once the eggs hatch the larvae feed on leaves and for the most part stayed clustered together chewing, chewing, chewing. They can defoliate an entire potato, tomato and pepper plant.

Once the insects were found, the gardeners removed the insects and placed them in a  jar of soapy water.

All the gardeners had the opportunity to scout for insects and among the other insects found in the garden were ants, Japanese beetles, cabbage moths, squash bugs and a grasshopper.

Seed Cups

Another activity shared in by all was the “planting” of seeds in a cup.  This came about after last week when a gardener asked about how seeds grew and what did it look like.

This experiment will show how seeds form roots and sprout.

Here’s what we did: A clear plastic cup was lined with a napkin. Seeds were placed between the cup and the napkin, cotton balls were added to the center to hold the seeds in place. The cotton balls were moistened.  Next week will be examine them for germination.

The goal is to see how the different seeds we planted start growing. If all goes well, we will plant the sprouts in the garden.

Harvesting Watermelon Radish

Over the weekend I harvested most of the watermelon radishes and roasted them with thyme for everyone to try.  It is an easy recipe of chopping the radishes into bite size pieces, coating them with olive oil and a little thyme. Cook at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

In the garden today we harvested the remainder of the watermelon radishes and sent them back with the gardeners.  The watermelon radish is a pretty one with a bright pink interior….like its namesake.

We also planted two other varieties of radishes because I have a project in mind for everyone later in the season that involves playing with your food.  You will see.

Artists at Work

The young gardeners always have the option of drawing something about the garden in the shade of the pine trees, instead of working in the sunny garden.  Some chose to draw today but didn’t finish their masterpieces. Next week I will post the garden drawings here.

What else did we do?

We weeded and discussed what was happening in the different beds.  We planted Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. And we looked over the plants. We noticed the fruits on the tomatoes, the flowers on the potatoes, and how textured the kale leaves are.

Ninety nine percent of gardening is observation. And the young gardeners working with me this summer are great at looking over the plants and noticing when something isn’t as it should be. This is the work of real gardeners and these 60 participants are already showing great  skills.

Good Work Gardeners.

What a great day in the garden – Natalie

Family Gardening Program – Week Two

There is a lot to do in the garden this time of year.

Today 80  young gardeners worked on: starting a new flower bed, mulching the broccoli so it doesn’t bolt,  sowing beans, weeding and water. When each group finished their working bee, we relaxed under the trees with a glass of ice, cold basil lemonade made from herbs growing in our garden.

The basil lemonade was a hit. One camper said the flavor was “distinctive,” another camper thought it tasted “like the garden” and most campers enjoyed it and asked for second and thirds.

Here is the Recipe:

One packed cup  of basil leaves washed well. Put leaves into the blender with a cup of water and puree on high. Once done, put this mixture through a strainer and into a large pticher of lemonade. Add the basil mix little by little until you reach the flavor you enjoy. It is that easy and very refreshing.

EARTH MOVERS

We could use some help with the dirt pile near the parking lot. The goal is to level it off so we can plant flowers. It was hard work for the kids. Anyone willing to help, please do. Your efforts are very much appreciated.

PLANTS

If anyone is dividing plants, please think of us. We are creating a pollinator friendly garden.  The new bed is in full sun and we hope to  grow yarrow, coneflower, Liatris, evening primrose, phlox, and asters. If you have any of these plants and can share, they would be greatly appreciated. Thank you to all my generous gardening friends.

MAKING A BIRD BATH

At noon today adult gardeners made a concrete bird bath from a leaf.

Gna LeClair lead this project and started by making a sand dome on a sheet of plywood. This forms the bird bath. Plastic was spread over the dome and a hosta leaf was put face down on top.

Gina LeClair lead this project and started by making a sand dome on a sheet of plywood. This forms the  basin of the bird bath.
Plastic was spread over the dome and a hosta leaf was put face down on top.

Then you being to add the concrete on top of the host leaf.

Then you  adda moth textured concrete – not the kind with aggregate – on top of the hosta leaf.

Keep going until the leaf is completely covered.

Keep going until the leaf is completely covered. And then let it dry for at least 48 hours.

These baths look charming in a garden and attract butterflies and insect-eating birds.   I will take a photo of the finished project next week.

Hope to see you in the garden.  And thank you for contributing to the success of the garden.

Natalie, Master Gardener and Moreau Community Garden’s Garden  Coach

 

June 22: In the Garden

The Moreau Community Garden was very peaceful this morning. I could hear turkeys off in the distance and that’s about it.

I went about my business of taking care of the 10 plots I maintain for the Family Gardening Program that begins soon. And, I made some notes in my journal of what I did, what I saw, and any other information that helps keep track of what’s happening in the garden.

WEEDING

It’s a toss up right now for which is our most prevalent weed. It might be smart weed. It’s everywhere. Fortunately, it is easy to spot as it has a distinct reddish mark on the leaves.smartweed

I swear this weed can hide because when I am done weeding and start to water, I always find some that escaped my first round of weed patrol.

Our next most prevalent weed is this one. Lamb'squartersKnow what it is?

If you said Lamb’s Quarters, you’re right.

We also have red root pig weed and pictured below, crabgrass. crabgrassStay on top of the weeding and please pull out weeds from pathways, this is a favorite hiding place for insects.

INSECTS

I refreshed the spray bottle of neem oil this morning. I saw that some of you have cucumber beetles on your squash. Remember to spray the adults directly to eliminate this problem. Don’t spray when it is above 80 degrees. And check for reddish eggs on the underside of leaves. If you see these, remove them immediately and destroy.

GROWING STRONG

Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Kitpeas

6.22.14

kale.spinach

carrots6.22

tomato.peas

Thank you to Sara McKay for her help spreading wood chips. It is appreciated.

Hope to meet you in the garden, Natalie

Moreau Community Garden Gardeners

Your help is needed.

While in the garden this morning I notice that we need to spread the wood chips over the cardboard by the squash mounds near the picnic tables, the mounds need to be weeded, too. Anyone who can give a hand, it will be appreciated.

Also, when you weed your plots, do not leave the debris in the pathways. There is a bin for plant material. Pathways should be just wood chips. Thank you.

cuke beetle damageThe Neem oil is doing its job on the cucumber beetles. The plants are looking better now. If you notice yellow and black beetles on your cucurbits, spray them directly with the neem oil. You need contact to kill. And don’t spray if the temperatures are over 80 degrees.

Busy Time in the Garden

I spent some time in the garden yesterday doing various tasks.

Here’s what I noticed:

The cucumber beetles are on the attack. If you look at the plants growing nearest the parking lot you will see the damage they do. The leaves have many holes and sections are chewed.

These plants were treated 6/10 with Neem Oil. There were many beetles flying about, so if you are growing a cucurbit, you will want to check your garden plot. Neem oil is mixed in the shed. Look for the labelled spray bottle and spray the beetles in the evening when they are most active. Neem oil needs to contact the beetle to be effective.

Gardeners should look for yellowish eggs under the leaves at the base of the plant. If you find them, squish them.

If there is still a heavy presence of beetles later this week, I will put diatomaceous earth (DE) down around the stems to keep the larvae from entering the soil. DE can be used for cutworms as well and I sprinkled it around tomatoes, celery, kale, beans, peas and other plants bothered by cutworms.

DE is in the shed if you want to use it. Use care when applying as it is very light. All you need to do is sprinkle it around the stem of the plant you are trying to protect. It is not effective once it rains.

Placing cardboard between rows and covering it with wood chips cuts down on the need to weed.

Placing cardboard between rows and covering it with wood chips cuts down on the need to weed.

Pathways

You’ll notice that I placed cardboard down in the pathways to smother the weeds. The cardboard will be covered with wood chips. This should reduce the amount of weeding that needs doing.

If you find you have many weeds in the paths around your plot, rake back the wood chips, put down a sheet of cardboard and then replace the wood chips.

Thinning

It is time to thin your crops. I thinned out the kale yesterday and will be doing the carrots later this week. When thinning it is advisable to water the plants first. This makes it easier to remeve the plant you want without disturbing any others. In the case of carrots, I will thin with a scissors. This avoids the possibility of uprooting its neighbors.

I ran into some other gardeners while there:

Sara found a cutworm that was disturbing the peace in her garden. She put down DE to protect the rest of her plantings.

Bill raked back the wood chips and put down cardboard around his plot to smother weeds. He still needs to pull out a few weeds nearest the bed and replace the wood chips.

Gina was there taking care of cucumber beetles.

It was a good day.

I hope to run into you next time, Natalie

Right Place, Right Time, Lucky Find

I was driving home from the supermarket and saw a pick-up truck loaded with large pieces of cardboard heading for the dump.

Just the night before, I was thinking how if we could rake back the wood chips on the weedy pathways, put cardboard down and then add fresh wood chips, we could eliminate the weeds that are taking over in some areas.

So I did what any gardener would do. I followed the pick-up into the dump and put the cardboard in my car. They are the height of patio doors and twice the width each! Perfect. (Isn’t it amazing what can make you happy!)

Let me know if you want a piece for the pathway around your bed. It is important to keep the weeds out of the paths as weeds harbor both insects and diseases. By smothering the weeds, we eliminate the issues.

See you in the garden later today.

Natalie, Master Gardener

Great Day!

MCG1Thanks to a hard working crew and gardeners much was accomplished in the garden yesterday.

Roto-tilling, weeding the beds and between beds, and, of course, catching up with each other after the long winter.

It felt so good to be back.

Many thanks to Harris Seeds for their donation!

Some tips for gardeners –

Dill deters squash bugs, so plant them together

Bed #34 is the communal bed for herbs.

No invasive plants may be planted in the garden beds or surrounding plots.

Thanks, Natalie

Natalie

Work Day Tomorrow

I Love Community GardensHi Gardeners –

I will be in the garden tomorrow from 9 to 11 a.m. roto-tilling.

Everyone needs to turn the beds before planting to mix in the manure we placed on top of the beds last fall. If your bed has weeds in it, pull them out first.

All gardeners are welcome to come help get the garden in order. We are renting a rotor-tiller and gardeners can roto-till their plots. If you can’t be there, let us know you would like this job done. We will take care of it.

Also, be sure to weed not only your plot but the pathway around it to keep destructive insects that hide in weeds away from your crops.

I am bringing seeds to share. If you have seeds you won’t be using, a seed exchange box will be set up on a picnic table.

Hope to see you in the garden tomorrow.

Natalie, Master Gardener

The shirt pictured above can be purchased on Zazzle. http://www.zazzle.com/community_garden_shirt-235667053207406818 It was designed by yours truly.

From Chaos to Manageable: A Garden where Beauty Reigns

20130806_2717A friend of mine had this incredible English cottage style garden of flowers. Beautiful to look at but so much maintenance that she decided it was time to simplify.

I worked with her to create a beauty-with-brains-not-braun low-maintenance garden. It’s still in process. As of this week, beds have been dismantled, transplanting done, the ground leveled, new plans are drawn and the flower installation will occur in the Spring.

Here is an image of the garden taken this summer for you to enjoy._DSC1452

Select plants removed from their former beds will be re-planted in new locations and other low-maintenance perennials will be added. Our goal is continuous bloom but not a lot of work and this is being accomplished with careful planning, plant selections that are big bloomers but not demanding, long-lasting landscape fabric and a watering system.

Next season, the gardener will be able to pour herself a drink, put her feet up and enjoy the beauty of her garden instead of being concerned with garden work, water and weed control.

Butterflies, Herbs and Cleaning Up

I was in the garden today and Jeremy showed me these two swallowtail caterpillars on the dill in his plot. I had noticed another on parsley in another plot.swallowtailcaterpillars

An adult swallowtail lays eggs on plants that will provide food for the caterpillars. These include dill, parsley, fennel, Queen Anne’s Lace, and carrots which is one of the reasons I included some of these plants in our Family Gardening Program plots. Look around these plants for caterpillars and you may be lucky and see one.

From the time the eggs are laid to when the caterpillar creates a chrysalis is about 14 days. Once the chrysalis is formed, it takes about 2 more weeks before a butterfly emerges. You will know the chrysalis is nearing the time it will open when it becomes transparent. It is hard work for the butterfly to emerge and when it does it will stay in place for a while and dry its wings. This is a great time to get photos.

Communal Herb Garden

Plot34My first order of business this morning was moving herbs to plot #34. This will be the communal herb plot for all Moreau Community Garden gardeners. Right now dill, thyme, marjoram, cilantro, basil and tarragon are growing in the bed. Some will reseed, some won’t and others are hardy enough that they will come back next year.

Having a communal bed means we don’t all have to grow these herbs, gardeners can take a snippet or two as needed from the communal bed.

If you have a hardy herb to share — such as Greek oregano — please feel free to add it to plot 34. But don’t add any invasive herbs, such as mint or lemon balm. These would take over and defeat our goal.

Cleaning up after Early Blight

As you clean tomatoes that have early blight out of your plots, remember that you need to remove the roots as well. I noticed that some people are clearing their plots but not weeding or removing roots. Early Blight can overwinter on plant debris, so it is important that everyone be meticulous and do a good job cleaning our beds and the weeds around them.

We are expecting a delivery of cow manure. When it arrives, add it to your cleaned bed and work it into the soil. The nutrients and microbes in the manure will do wonders to improve the health of our garden.

The donation of the cow manure is coming from Todd Kusnierz – one of our Town Board members – and is truly appreciated. It will really help improve the soil.