Archive for the ‘Garden Tips’ Category

Time to Reflect…

A note from Ellen about the end-of-season gardening recap:

What will you do differently next year? Please let us know by commenting on this post!

This is a good time to make some notes about what worked, what didn’t and what you might want to do next year.  Believe me, it is a great idea to jot these things down now because you will forget by next season, take it from me.

 A case in point:  Last year I purchased enough tomato supports to stake all my tomato plants.  I stored them neatly in my garage to use this year.  But, for some reason, this year I “forgot” how important it is to stake my tomatoes and had to re-learn that un-staked tomatoes are a mess and very hard to harvest.  So number one on my list of things to do differently is:
  • Stake my Tomatoes!
Other things I want to remember:
  • When buying seeds and plants, pay attention to disease resistance.    Choose varieties that have some resistance to mildew and blight.
  • Add some kind of organic fertilizer to boost the nitrogen in my raised beds.  Since I mulch with leaves and hay I had too much “carbon” and not enough nitrogen and things did not grow as well.
  • Be more vigilant about insects.  Try to catch them before they become marauding hoards.
  • Keep a record of what seed (plant) varieties I plant and how well they perform.  It’s fun to try new things, but if there is something I particularly want I need to have a reliable variety.
  • Plant something new each season.
  • Did I mention staking my tomatoes?     Oh yeah, I want to remember to stake my tomatoes…..

Disease Resistant Plant List Available on our Resources Page

Got pests? You might be inspired by this link:
This is a list of disease resistant vegetable varieties that I thought would be very helpful to our gardeners planning for next season given the issues we’ve had. I will continue to research this and provide other links on our Resources page of the website. I have heard some gardeners say they are discouraged so maybe this information will give them some hope.

Ellen’s Gory Tip for Getting Rid of Tomato Hornworms

Both of these specimens (tomato hornworm and the moth it becomes) were collected from the tomatoes on my straw bale garden. Notice how the hornworm is happily chomping on the tomato leaves? These creatures are making their presence known in the garden now.

You will know you have them on your tomatoes if you see denuded stems and lots of droppings that look like peppercorns. These guys can be three inches long and they have gripping “feet” that cling when you try to pull them off. I have found it easier to take a pair of scissors and cut them in half. Gory but effective and fast.

The hornworm can destroy your tomato plants and will eat the tomatoes as well.

Kay’s Garden Tip: Striped Cucumber Beetle

Have you seen this beetle?

We’ve sighted striped cucumber beetles (they are yellow with black stripes) on squash plants in the heritage plots and a few in various raised beds. Here is a recipe for an organic spray you can make at home to deal with the beetles.

You will need:

A spray bottle

1 gallon jug

1 TBS of Dr. Bronner’s liquid concentrate soap OR other all-natural liquid soap without phosphates

1TBS olive oil

1 TBS baking soda

Warm water

Put a small amount of warm water in the bottom of the jug. Add soap, olive oil and baking soda. Swirl ingredients to blend them. Fill the rest of the jug with warm water and then put the cap on. Shake thoroughly. Dispense into spray bottle.

When applying to plants, make sure to get the undersides of leaves, tight crevices and tender new growth. Keep shaking mixture to keep ingredients well incorporated (oil will try to separate). Apply once a week for prevention and more often for an active problem. Re-apply after rain.

Kay’s Tip for Gardening in Hot Weather

Gardeners are reminded that in this hot weather, raised beds dry out quickly. Water with a stream of water at the base of your plants, not by showering the whole plant, which contributes to powdery mildew. Please remember to turn the water off at the faucet and store the hose on the holder.

Lasagna Gardening: More Time, Less Toil

Lasagna Gardening is a low maintenance method of growing flowers and veggies is very effective at amending soil and conserving resources. For centuries, gardeners have practiced this method as a way to work with the Earth’s natural processes.

Here’s how start a lasagna bed:

John Hart, member of the Garden Steering Committee, with Lauren, one of his former students.

  1. Don’t till the soil!
  2. Add a layer of compost
  3. Sprinkle on some thin sticks
  4. Spread a thick layer of wet newspaper
  5. Cover with hay or local wood chips

We are allowing the soil to repair and fortify itself without disturbing it. When it is time to plant, simply cut holes just big enough for seedlings or a trough for veggies such as carrots.

This method holds in moisture (yes…you must still water the garden occasionally), regulates the temperature of the soil, and virtually eliminates the need to weed. This frees us up to do or not do all kinds of things like meditate, read a good book, make new friends at the garden, walk the dog, eat more vegetables…

Got Slugs?

Slugs have been a big problem this year. Click on the link for some helpful, organic solutions to the slug issue.