I’m back from Utah (family time is the best!), and was out to the garden on Friday to check on things. Here are some observations:
Plants have greened up!
I hope you’ve noticed how much greener the plants are. Good job! For plant health, it’s good to remember…
The more balanced the soil is:
- the less bugs
- the more growth, and
- the healthier plant all around
As you walk your row, notice if your plants are robust; notice if the leaves are free from critters and mold and disease. If there is a problem, then nip it in the bud (so to speak).
Some of my leaves have a powdery mildew: The big leaves of the summer squash, the leaves of cucumbers, and the leaves of watermelon and cantaloupe are primarily susceptible to this fungus. It can be carried to the plant by insects or it can develop because of spores. I have talked to and visited many farms and it is very common for this area. One solution I heard of recently was to spray one part milk and 10 parts water on the plant leaves; the person who used it says to apply it BEFORE the fungus begins. Another home method is to mix 1 tbsp. baking soda to ½ tsp. liquid soap to a gallon of water; shake and apply with spray. The best way to control it though, is to buy seeds that are resistant to powdery mildew. If you didn’t buy seeds that were, you might want to check out this website for homegrown methods of eliminating both mildew and pesticides.
[If you notice one of these, keep the little lady happy, she eats spores that cause powdery mildew.]
Some of the natural pesticides listed: Neem oil; Bacillus thuringiensis (BT); Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth; Garlic cloves ground and added to a spray; Hot peppers ground and added to water sprays.
Bugs can do a number on any plant in a matter of hours. Now is the time to check your tomato plants for horn worms which can eat down leaves of a whole tomato plant. One solution for horn worms is to sprinkle with a jar full of flour and a lid with punched out holes. Horn worms have to be pulled off and squashed or save them in a jar and throw them to the chickens in the back of the yard at the farm. They LOVE them.
Thank you for sprucing up your row for the tour: The Leadership Council was favorably impressed with the garden this last Wednesday. We were well represented with Scott, the Mills, Brooke and Kael who talked about the rent a row program, the CSA we had for 4 years, and our experimental wood chip garden. They came to see a diverse plant production that is being done sustainably; that is what you all are doing!
Want to represent our Rent a Row Garden at Valencia College? We have another chance to “show off” that gardening can be done in our county. Valencia’s Osceola campus in Kissimmee is having an earth day on Monday, April 15th from 11am-2 pm. If any of you would like to go and set up a table and talk about our garden, I’d love to fill you in on more details.
Are you cutting herbs? They are not yet fully grown, but we do have a good assortment of herbs for your use: Greek oregano, Italian oregano, rosemary, chives, basil, lemon thyme, pineapple sage, aloe, cilantro, dill, parsley. Please pinch off or cut little sprigs from our herbs to take home and cook with. What a difference to use fresh herbs in your recipes! For tips on how to use them, check out the Epicurious website.
I’ll be to the garden on Saturday, if any of you have a question that you want to discuss, although we have a growing group of seasoned gardeners now who could help you too.
“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” Jim Davis, Garfield cartoonist
See you in the garden,