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.

 

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!

Kids, Carrots and a Thank-You Sign

On Saturday I was at the Farmer’s Market and stopped to water my bed at the community garden. As I was leaving I saw a woman with two young children in tow. From the alley she was pointing things out about the plants so I asked if she’d like to come in. She was delighted. Our deer fence, which isn’t proving very useful in keeping the deer out, does seem to keep people out. That’s unfortunate.

I asked the little girls if they liked carrots. They were willing to try a bite, so I pulled some from my bed, washed them off with the hose (I love having water so close by) and the kids each had the freshest carrot they had ever eaten. I asked if I could take their picture and here it is. The smallest girl is not happy in this photo, but was a minute before when she had a bite of carrot.

visitors to the garden

These serendipitous moments are the best part of the community garden for me. Did I make a couple of fresh carrot converts on Saturday? Maybe.

We have some new signage in the garden. Val Kenn Gray, Lin Clineburg and Joanne Buritsch collaborated on this sign which thanks the groups whose generous help was instrumental in getting our community garden started. The sign was placed on the side of the garden shed where it is visible and adds some decoration to an otherwise blank wall. Well done! Let’s all remember to thank and patronize the groups that support our community.

community-garden-sign-for-w

Kids, carrots and thank you signs are all a good thing in our St. Michaels Community Garden.

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.

Slugs – Not In My Garden!

slugs

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.

Diatomaceous-Earth

Thanks to the people at Eartheasy.com 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.

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.