The Fall Garden

Most of us have already harvested the last of the summer’s produce. Disclaimer…the garlic below did not come out of my garden. I had garlic, but hadn’t gotten around to cleaning it. The heads I bought at the store made a prettier photo.fall harvest
However, I was sorry to see a lot of tomatoes in the community garden go to waste. We need to figure out how to utilize the produce our own families won’t use. All the green tomatoes from my bed went on newspapers in the garage. As they ripened, I got enough to can two more batches of tomato sauce .

Now is the time to put in a fall garden. Broccoli, cabbage, and kale are among the plants that love this cooler weather. Seeds of some lettuces, arugula and other greens can be sewn with time to sprout before the really cold weather comes.mala's bed Sept 21-13Last year’s very mild winter meant we ate greens all winter from my raised beds at home. I had covered them with Agribon, a floating row cover. Originally I did this to keep the leaves out of the beds and then was too lazy to take the covers off. Little did I know the reward in store. We didn’t buy any greens until I pulled things out in April.

I laid the Agribon directly over my plants and secured the edges with a couple of bricks. When the plants grew bigger, I gave them more room by adjusting the Agribon and the bricks. Sun and rain go through the floating covers. Some people use metal hoops they purchase or make. I plan to put a floating row cover on my community garden bed and see how my fall plants make it through the winter in that location. This photo is from my raised beds at home. The covers went on October 8 because we were expecting a weekend of rain.row covers 10-9-13People also use floating row covers to keep insects off their plants. Next spring I’m going to give that a try. Maybe my broccoli will be worm free. That would be lovely!


Slugs – Not In My Garden!


No, those are not the size of the slugs in my lettuce at my community garden bed, but the smaller ones I find still creep me out. Slugs are gross, and I have yet to figure out what they are good for. I don’t want slugs of any size in my salad!

I’d been using slightly diluted ammonia in a spray bottle. If sprayed directly on the slugs, it kills them. I don’t spray it directly on the plants, but for the slugs I find hiding inside upside down pots or crawling up the foundation of my house, it’s perfect.

I started using Diatomaceous Earth (which I got at Tractor Supply) to control squash borers. But if it helps with slugs, I’m all for it.

Diatomaceous earth comes in the form of a chalky powder, and is the natural fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. For non-toxic, effective treatment for earwigs, slugs, and other garden pests: sprinkle over plants and around edges of garden beds.


Thanks to the people at for permission to reprint this information about slug control.

“Slugs are in every garden, and cause more damage than most garden invaders. Commercial slug killers are available, but they can be toxic to birds and other wildlife, and are less effective after rain, when slugs are most active.

We have found that non-toxic, food grade Diatomaceous Earth (Insect Dust) is effective for slugs, but there are also many other methods available for little to no cost.

Before reaching for the pesticides, here are a few alternative natural, non-toxic methods of slug control:

• Watering Schedule
Far and away the best course of action against slugs in your garden is a simple adjustment in the watering schedule. Slugs are most active at night and are most efficient in damp conditions. Avoid watering your garden in the evening if you have a slug problem. Water in the morning – the surface soil will be dry by evening. Studies show this can reduce slug damage by 80%.

• Copper
Small strips of copper can be placed around flower pots or raised beds as obstructions for slugs to crawl over. Cut 2″ strips of thin copper and wrap around the lower part of flower pots, like a ribbon. Or set the strips in the soil on edge, making a “fence” for the slugs to climb. Check to make sure no vegetation hangs over the copper which might provide a ‘bridge’ for the slugs. Copper barriers also work well around wood barrels used as planters.

• Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth (Also known as “Insect Dust”) is the sharp, jagged skeletal remains of microscopic creatures. It lacerates soft-bodied pests, causing them to dehydrate. A powdery granular material, it can be sprinkled around garden beds or individual plants, and can be mixed with water to make a foliar spray.

Diatomaceous earth is less effective when wet, so use during dry weather. Wear protective gear when applying, as it can irritate eyes and lungs. Be sure to buy natural or agricultural grade diatomaceous earth, not pool grade which has smoother edges and is far less effective. Mala note: it’s in the poultry section at Tractor Supply.

• Salt
If all else fails, go out at night with the salt shaker and a flashlight. Look at the plants which have been getting the most damage and inspect the leaves, including the undersides. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the slug and it will kill it quickly. Not particularly pleasant, but use as a last resort. (Note: some sources caution the use of salt, as it adds a toxic element to the soil. This has not been our experience, especially as very little salt is used.)

• Beer
Slugs are attracted to beer. Set a small amount of beer in a shallow wide jar buried in the soil up to its neck. Slugs will crawl in and drown. Take the jar lid and prop it up with a small stick so rain won’t dilute the beer. Leave space for slugs to enter the trap.

• Overturned Flowerpots, Grapefruit Halves, Board on Ground
Overturned flowerpots, with a stone placed under the rim to tilt it up a bit, will attract slugs. Leave overnight, and you’ll find the slugs inside in the morning. Grapefruit halves work the same way, with the added advantage of the scent of the fruit as bait.

Another trap method, perhaps the simplest of all, is to set a wide board on the ground by the affected area. Slugs will hide under the board by day. Simply flip the board over to reveal the culprits.”  That’s when I get satisfaction from getting out my spray ammonia. However, as I said, if the diatomaceous earth works and is more effective, I’m all for giving it a try.

Salad on the Fly and Poop in the Garden

A group of kids from the St. Michaels Community Center come to the Community Garden on Thursday afternoons during the school year. They have two beds they are tending.

Their first job this spring was to get their two beds weeded and amended with LeafGro and composted manure. They learned quickly that gardening is sometimes about getting dirty. They actually seem to like that part.

jr gardeners preparing to plant 2013

On a Thursday in March one of the Master Gardeners worked with the kids and raided some beds that hadn’t been dug up yet for spring planting. The adventuresome kids ate salad on the fly and tried kale, lettuce and carrots that had wintered over. The community garden is a wonderful place to learn about gardening and about how fabulous food tastes when it is just picked.

carrot harvest

That day the kids planted potatoes and onion sets. They learned about the eyes of the potatoes and that the hairy part of the onion set is the roots. Nevertheless, some onions were planted upside down.

One six year old smartly observed the horse manure in a nearby bed. Poop! A teaching moment, the Master Gardener thought, only to realize that she had totally lost the attention of group of kids who now couldn’t stop hooting about poop in the garden.

Trellis Envy

Mala Burt writes: Last week I was at Longwood Garden. The spring flowers, particularly the tulips, were spectacular. tulip-quilts-Longwood-for-w

Howeverr, it was the vegetable garden at Longwood that caught my eye. I was very interested in the types of trellises they had built to assist vining veggies. Here are some examples.bamboo trellis

The photo above is of a bamboo trellis. Flexible bamboo stakes are pushed into the ground and simply tied with twine at the top. I was curious that the plants below seemed to be cabbages. I wonder if they will tie floating row cover around the trellis to keep out the cabbage worms.

tri-post-trellis-with-grape I loved the look of this one. Stakes twined with grapevines. Of course, having some bright flowers here and there made the veggie garden less brown this early in the season. climbing trellis

This trellis would be terrific for growing cukes or squash.

I talked to one of the gardeners and asked about how they handled deer, rabbits, etc. Come to think of it, I didn’t see any squirrels. There was a pretty fence around this garden with rabbit wire at the bottom and the gates are closed at night. So that takes care of the rabbits. The deer are handled in a different way. They put up an electric fence and entice the deer by dabbing it with peanut butter. The deer get shocked and learn the boundaries. Here’s the kicker, however. They put up the fence every evening and take it down every morning. The visitors to Longwood never see the electric fence.

Grow Vertically: Make an Easy Trellis

Pennie Haase (bed #26) writes: This year I wanted to get the most out of my new garden bed, so I decided to grow up. Online I found lots of trellis ideas on square foot gardening websites. A quick trip to Lowes and $14 later I had everything I needed:

Materials for trellis

After measuring the bed, I had my husband cut the one piece of conduit, then laid everything out on the garage floor to see if in fact it would work.  A few minutes later we headed down to the garden and quickly assembled the trellis.   He pounded the rebar, tightened the screws and I tied.  My peas are just starting to grow, so we’ll see how well it works.

My Trellis at the Community Garden:

Pennie's Trellis

Pennie’s Trellis

Materials: (Lowes in Easton):3 – 5’ lengths ½” EMT Conduit ($1.65 each – aisle 14); 2 – ½” EMT to EMT pull elbows ($2.71 each – aisle 14); 2 – rebar pins ½” x 4’ (2.98 each – aisle 53 );1 – trellis netting 5’ x 15’ ($4.97 – outside garden area)

Optional Materials: 1 – 4’ stake for bottom; 2 – tie down stakes/irrigation stakes or cut coat hangers

Tools: Hacksaw, Hammer, Screwdriver, Tape measure, Scissors, Use hacksaw to cut off 13 1/2″ conduit from one 5’ section – this will be the top.

Note – measure your bed to ensure that it is 48″ on the interior

How To: Attach elbows to top of other two 5’ sections – these will be the sides.

Unroll trellis and measure out 6’ length x 5’ width, thread one side conduit down 6’ length alternating the conduit in and out of the squares, measure over 4’ and thread the other side section. Attach top by threading through alternating squares. Cut netting to fit, allowing extra for tying.

Pound rebar inside the corners 2’, don’t mash down top of rebar or it will not slide inside the conduit. Slide the conduit over the rebar, square it up, push conduit into ground to stabilize and tighten screws on the elbows.

Tie off the squares of netting to top and sides or use wire ties.

Optional: Pennie added a stabilizing stake to the bottom, threading it through alternating squares and securing it to the ground with irrigation stakes.

Info from Square Foot Gardening – also on the web:

We Went to a Garden Party

Today was the second Garden Party for the St. Michaels Community Garden. It was just a year ago that the garden was completed and beds planted. Today was sunny with a chilly breeze, but we gathered inside the St. Michaels Library for refreshments and conversation before going outside to take a look at the garden.

garden party 4

Most beds have been turned over, and many have been planted. Our cool spring has put us behind last year, but seeds are sprouting and so far the squirrels and deer are not a problem. It wasn’t long before people who had not planned to work on their beds were pulling weeds and planting lettuces grown and donated by a smiling Carol Bean.

Carol Bean and lettuce starts

Reverend Emmanuel Johnson spoke about the garden as a gift to the community. He said the garden’s effects are rippling out in ways we don’t know. For many of us the friendships we are making while we tend our garden beds has been the unexpected harvest.

A History of the Garden

In October of 2011, Lisa Sylvestri, a representative from the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy met with a group of local gardeners, several Talbot County Master Gardeners and Trish Payne, Director of the St. Michaels Community Center to discuss the idea of creating a community garden in St. Michaels.  There was a very positive reaction to this suggestion, and a vision of a community garden in St.Michaels took form.  Ms. Sylvestri recommended a source on community gardening from the University of Missouri that became the guide for the garden’s structure and organization.

The first steps were to find a spot for the garden and to establish a mission statement and guidelines.  The town commissioners graciously agreed to lease a town-owned vacant lot between Conner and Fremont Streets for five years.  The second step was to establish the following mission statement: The objectives of the St. Michaels Community Center Garden are to give residents access to fresh produce, educate children and adults in good gardening practices and turn a vacant lot into a vital and appealing space where people may gather, work together and socialize in a space that builds community.

Landscaper Roger Galvin, who created the historic gardens at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, designed a garden plan, and community activist Laurie Pratt became the driving force in getting it built. Thanks to start-up grants from The Rotary Club of St. Michaels and Christmas in St. Michaels, the vision began to become a reality. The garden structure itself was created through in-kind donations from Shannahan Artesian Wells, Inc., Electric by Miller, Choptank Electric, Leonard Landscape Management  and donations of labor and funds from many other community members. Forty raised beds, a storage shed and compost bins completed the hardscape.

On April 15, 2012, a little less than a year from inception, over 70 community members turned out to celebrate the grand opening of the St. Michaels Community Center Community Garden.  Many of the gardeners, eager to begin, had already planted cool weather crops, and the garden was vibrant with new growth.

The garden has fulfilled its mission by providing an inviting and attractive public area for people to gather, work together and socialize.  The Wilson Reading Garden and the Community Garden complement each other beautifully and tables and benches provide comfortable spots for people to visit, enjoy a picnic or just observe the garden beds.