Think About a Winter Garden

There are several plants that can go into the garden now as seeds and will reward you with greens into the fall and, if you’re lucky, up to  Christmas and beyond.

seeds for fall planting

The yellow wax beans are finished in my community garden bed. I was away for a week and just picked the last of them a few days ago. They were old so I cooked them a long time with a slice of bacon, but they were too stringy to eat. It was worth a shot, but they ended up in the garbage. I didn’t put them in my compost bin as they had fat from the bacon on them.

I’ll pull those beans up in the next few days and plant some kale and lettuce. I’ve already done that at home and here are some photos of Russian Red Kale which is a terrific green to plant now. Kale is one of the healthiest things you can eat. You can even make Kale Chips out of the leaves. These seeds were planted 8-14-14 and a week later had secondary leaves.

Russian Red Kale 8-14-14

The tomatoes in my community garden bed are still producing so they won’t get pulled out yet. When I do, I will make sure the cut up the plants before they go into the compost bin.

So…consider a fall/winter garden. You will be rewarded.

 

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Compost Bin Update

On Saturday morning Penny Haase, Robert Messick, Lynda Barrow, Val Kenn Gray and Mala and Roger Burt chopped, turned and cleaned up the compost bins. There is already compost in some of them.

organizing compost bins

Some reminders are in order.

1. It speeds up the composting if the things you put in the bins are cut into smaller pieces. Whole tomato plants, squash plants, for example, should be cut into smaller pieces and spread on the pile. You can use a shovel to break up a pile of debris you want to add to the bin. Don’t put big sticks in the compost bins. Put them next to or behind the bins and someone will get rid of them.

This is a photo of what we don’t want.

compost no-no

2. Do not put trash in the compost bins. This includes plant markers, bags from soil amendments (composted manure, LeafGro, etc.) Here is a photo of some stuff we pulled out of the compost bins. There is a trash can inside the shed. Please use it or take your trash home.

compost no-no's 2

3. This is what the bins should look like.

compost ready to work

Thanks for your cooperation.

Penny Haase shared beets from her bed with the workers. It pays to show up!

Penny Haase and beets

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!

Poison Oak – In Our Neighborhood?

poison oak

After I posted about finding poison ivy in my garden bed, Master Gardener Lin Clineburg (bed  #10) sent me this photo of poison oak. I’ve lived in Maryland for more years than I’d like to admit and have never seen it. The leaves do look like oak leaves. People tell us it’s around on the Eastern Shore. Have any of you seen poison oak in our area?

This photo is poison oak in the fall. Gorgeous color, but I don’t want it in my yard.

Poison Oak up close

Poison Oak up close (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dog Vomit Slime Mold

Bonda Baxter (Community Garden bed #4) sent me information about this slime mold which she saw in the community garden. It’s not harmful, but it really looks disgusting. The information below is copied from the Ohio State University Extension website which is also where the photo came from.

dog vomit

Dog vomit slime mold (Fuligo septica) is a common problem this time of year. After gardeners put down a fresh layer of mulch they often see this aptly named growth showing up a few weeks later. This dog vomit is actually a slime mold that exists as an almost clear thin blob that crawls around the surface of the garden – this is its plasmodium stage. When it is developed enough to reproduce, it pulls itself together into the more recognizable pile that some describe as scrambled eggs. Eventually the scrambled eggs will brown to the recognizable pile of canine emesis. At this point, the slime mold spores are released to start the process over again.

Dog vomit slime mold is not harmful to plants. There is no way to totally eradicate it from the garden. However, some people have reported that watering in new mulch does help reduce the amount of slime mold. Also, any pile of sporulating slime mold can be scooped up with a shovel and deposited out of sight – breaking it up or blasting it with water will only help it spread its spores.

Could somebody please talk to the weather man. With the torrential rain today, this slimy mess will be all over the community garden.

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.

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: http://hedgehoghill.blogspot.com/2013/02/square-foot-gardening-on-gulf-coast_27.html