NOTICE: the leaks in the garden have gotten more severe. We will be turning the water to the garden on and off, to try to reduce the flood. If you go to the garden and the water is turned off, please return at another time. The water will be on intermittently as we work to quickly repair our leak(s). Now is a good time to use your water tower!
Special thanks to Bill, Daryl, and Scott for bravely accepting the water repair challenge!
Finally a cool morning! It felt great to be in the garden, and we had lots to do!
The garden is lush with our summer sunshine and rain. Our first focus was harvest! So far this year, we have donated 1,800 pounds of produce to area food banks! (And that doesn’t include our melon harvest at the workday!)
We had a large group of volunteers, so we divided into groups. We had a brave group of compost-carers, water-tower construction crew, and a herd of “buffalo” in our wildflower prairie.
Our wildflower patch supports native wildflowers, which would have been trampled by herds of buffalo before we all moved in. To replicate the buffalo, gardeners grabbed hoes and shovels to break up the soil. These “hoof prints” make a great place for the wildflower seeds to germinate. The bees appreciate the efforts!
We are working to add new water towers to each plot. Remember, a water tower is not a replacement for regular watering; they help even out the water and keep our soil moist even on hot days. Additionally, some of our water spigots are leaking. We are aware and will make time to repair them all at once; unfortunately the repairs will be a challenge and will require shutting off all water to the garden, so please be patient and avoid using the damaged faucets for now.
Now is the time to plant “cole crops,” such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. It’s nearly time to harvest summer crops like black-eyed peas and basil. If you were able to keep your tomatoes alive this summer, look for a fall harvest soon. Keep harvesting okra! Remember, okra is the only crop that we can help our neighbor gardeners harvest—some will be ready to pick every day!
Our next workday will be Oct. 10, 9-11 a.m. See you there, and happy harvesting!
Despite the early workday and the heat, we had a great crowd. The focus of our workday was adding cardboard and mulching our paths, harvesting produce, and working on the compost heap. A special thank-you to the Young Men’s Service League for working so hard on cleaning up our compost bins!
We achieved a lot and were able to make some nice donations to the food bank. It feels good to be able to share our bounty!
We are entering The Epoch of Okra! Normal rules about harvesting other plots are suspended now that it is okra season—okra needs to be harvested almost daily, so please help your neighbors harvest!
We are also welcoming volunteer food delivery drivers, so please let Dan know if you are interested in helping.
Special shout-out to Abdel, who is helping us procure barrels, and to Scott, for designing and building our new “water towers.” Each pair of plots will eventually get a water tower, which will help conserve water while helping our plants stay damp even in the heat.
We will have our next workday starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 12. See you there!
The votes are in! The workday will be NEXT WEEK, July 18! We’ll start at 8 a.m. to beat the heat.
You are always welcome to go to the garden to water and harvest, but our formal workday has been postponed. Please remember to wear a mask and respect social distancing. If you need someone to help care for your plot, please let us know!
Gardeners, we need your vote! Our organizer/master gardener Dan has a conflict and will not be able to attend our regularly scheduled workday on July 11.
Would you prefer to reschedule to the third week in July or would you like to go ahead and hold the normally scheduled workday, but without Dan to lead the Best Bets conversation or answer any questions?
We aren’t able to have our normal workdays this month, but the garden is always open and we invite you to come by and tend your crops! The Metrocrest and other food banks need our donations now more than ever!
Please do let us know if you leave a donation, and please also let us know if you assistance in tending your plot so the garden does not fall fallow.
Until we see you again, enjoy the April Best Bets, and happy gardening!
What to Do in April
Look for Pests…Spring is here and so are pests. Look for damage before it becomes a major problem, especially on the underside and on lower leaves. Early treatment is key.Squash bugs and Squash vine borers are going to damage squash, and cucumber vines. Use diatomaceous earth sprinkled on and around the plants to help control these pests. Insecticidal soap is another remedy for many immature insects, aphids, and mites. Remember, organic controls only! For more specific advice, ask for help, or check out our resources in the shed.
Grow UP, not OUT…Letting your plants trail along the ground causes nothing but trouble! Insects, diseases, will be a bigger problem, as well as your neighbor who will not be happy with “encroachment”! Remember: beforeyou plant, you need to add poles or structures. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and vine crops need strong support, at least 4 foot high. (Hint: tomato cages are NOT big enough ). Put tall plants on the NORTH side to minimize shading your other crops. Need ideas? Check out our resources at the garden outside the shed.
What to Harvest in April
Harvest peas, radishes, and most “greens”. If you harvest the outer leaves only on leaf crops, you can continue to harvest over and over…at least until it gets too hot in June. While onions can be harvested at any time, for the biggest bulb, wait until June.
What to plant in April (See chart below for more information)
Now is the best time to plant summer crops. You still have time to plant tomatoes. Small and medium fruit tomatoes generally do best in our area. In addition, this is the best time to plant hot weather lovers like eggplant, peppers, okra, squash. cucumbers, and beans. You can still plant leafy greens from transplants but it’s probably too late for direct seeding, they will not reach maturity before hot weather hits!
Best Varieties (Choose these if available)
PLants/ Square Foot
Transplants or Seeds?
Tomato Determinate (plant is shorter)
Celebrity, Carnival, Surefire VF1, President, Merced, Heatwave, Small Fry, Early Girl Bush, Golden Sunray (Heirloom), Jolly
Thanks to Doug for erecting our new birdhouse! Now the purple martins can get comfortable at their preferred distance from all other critters!
Gardeners, stay well! We are still taking donations to Metrocrest Services, and we anticipate a continued need. Please continue to check on your crops! It’s planting season and getting outdoors at the garden is a great way to manage cabin fever!
Remember, there are lots of chores you can help with: pull weeds, turn the compost, add wood chips to the path, help your neighbors, tend to one of the community plots. It helps with stress management and supports the garden community as a whole!
We had a quiet but productive day at the garden today. We did not hold our typical workday but still invited those who felt comfortable to join us in getting work done. And we didn’t get rained on!
It is now spring, and that means it is time to plant! Now is the time to plant your beds with all your spring (and some summer!) favorites: tomatoes (transplants), all varieties of peppers (transplants), melons (remember: grow UP, not out, or you will lose your whole bed), cucumbers, snap peas, long beans, etc. You can also check the A&M planting guide for ideas.
Wear bug spray! It is the start of chigger and mosquito season, and because of the mild winter, the bugs will be active. Wear long sleeves and spray bug spray, particularly on your shoes and ankles, to prevent itchy bites.
Consider building an “anti-bunny cage” for popular greens. Use chicken wire or similar; remember, bunnies can squeeze through very tight places to get your delicious lettuces. (Also, remember to close the gates to prevent bunnies!)
Make good use of your trellis! Grow UP, not out.
Please continue to weigh and document your harvests. Put harvested produce in the fridge or cooler near the church.
If you visit, consider doing a “community chore” while you are there. Ideas include:
Weeding path areas
Turning compost in the bins
Taking out the trash in the green trash can
Laying down cardboard and mulch in washed-out parts of the path
Volunteering to deliver harvested produce
Watering community crops
Harvesting community crops, including the blackberries outside the fence
Watering or harvesting crops for your neighbors (get in touch with them first to make sure this is okay!)
We will keep you posted as the virus news continues, but the garden is always open. It’s a great way to get some high-quality outdoor time and do some good. Please do come and plant your plot! We will continue making deliveries to area food banks and want a full, productive harvest!