Friday, August 19, 2016

Colors of the Garden

Another growing week in the garden, this time featuring more varieties of veggies. We had our first harvest of string beans this week, as well as a couple peppers peeking through the leaves. In addition, our first eggplant ripened and was sold at farmstand. The colors of the garden are spreading as August begins to wind down.

Yesterday we had the women's soccer team come down early in the morning, and they were a huge help. They constructed a component of the compost bin system, a cinder block bunker intended to hold carbon material (like dried leaves) to add into the compost pile. They also helped to sand down the picnic tables to ready them for stain, cleaned onions, and harvested basil. We had a large harvest of three types of basil - large Italian leaf, purple, and sweet thai. Sweet thai basil was a favorite. It has more of a licorice scent, and is really great to cook in soup or with chicken.

As the season goes on, the plants are producing more and more fruit. Notably, our tomato plants are thriving, but we have noticed that a lot of the fruit on our heirloom plants have rot. End rot is common to heirloom tomatoes, but this rot extended to the whole fruit - after doing some research, we concluded that the rot was due to a calcium deficiency. We purchased lime, which is rich in calcium, to make a slurry (lime and water stirred together in a bucket until lime is dissolved) to water the roots of the plants with in hopes of some healthier tomatoes soon. Our sweet potatoes are starting to bloom, too! The sweet potato is in the same family as a morning glory, which is especially noticeable when the sweet potatoes bloom.

We have also noticed that someone else likes our watermelons, too - we found two baby watermelons completely hollowed out by a critter. We were thinking a skunk, any other thoughts?

Thank you for all who helped in the garden this past summer! We are so excited to have more students and faculty back on campus. Note: there will not be a farmstand this week, but look for us the first week of classes on Thursday 11:00-1:00 in front of Alliot!

- Erin

Friday, August 12, 2016

The First Flowers

The summer is wrapping up, and we have begun to pick the first flowers. This week we were able to do a huge chunk of an ongoing project, the Pollinator Garden. We put in close to 70 plants and we have just one variety of flower left until the garden is complete. During this dry spell, we have been sure to keep a sprinkler running for as long as possible so the freshly planted flowers can settle into their new home. Already we can see pollinators, especially honey bees, stopping by for a visit. We are all excited to see the garden in full bloom!

Though we have spent the majority of the summer at the permaculture site, we have not forgotten about the original Organic Garden (located below the View off route 15). Jess and I went down early Monday morning to sow buckwheat into the beds of the garden. Buckwheat is a mid to late summer cover crop; a cover crop is a sustainable agricultural practice that we have been implementing throughout the year in both sites. Cover crops serve many purposes, foremost being their benefit to soil health. As plants grow, they take up nutrients from the soil. Because we harvest our vegetables so we can gain energy by eating them, the soil does not gain those nutrients back - putting a bed or field in cover crop allows the soil to rest and replenish its stores. Because we will not harvest buckwheat as a crop, after cutting we can leave the plant on the beds to act as a 'green manure' which will break down and put even more nutrients back into the soil. Cover crops like buckwheat have other benefits as well, including preventing erosion, maintaining moisture content, and attracting beneficial insects. For more information, see Cornell's guide to buckwheat here.