This Day

This Day in the Garden - September 8, 2012

Our first harvest of sweet potatoes, leeks and rhubarb, and the last of the watermelons. None of the watermelons this year have made it out of the park - it's just too much fun to share them on the spot. Those eight big sweet potatoes were from just one plant! We'll wait a few weeks to dig the rest, after the plants start dieing back.

Michael spotted a special visitor on the pole beans:  Our mantid friend is a Tenodera aridifolis sinensis, aka a Chinese Praying Mantis.


A praying mantis is a voracious predator, (i.e., a "beneficial" insect), and its favorite munchies are insect & bug pests that we don't want in our gardens!  Isn't it nice to know that Mother Nature is helping us out?  (And kudos to Alan for the excellent click!)

Praying Mantis

A Day in the Garden

It started cloudy, but as gardeners arrived, the sun came out in full force.  Despite being past 9AM, the far left corner still had a bit of shade from the tall trees at the edge of the Park.

A white board of to-do activities, prepared by the planners, organizes our work.  It's harvesting time!  Lush eggplant of both the long Asian and the fat Italian varieties are joyfully picked.  Bush beans of all three colors --green, yellow, purple-- are available, but the soybeans are not yet ready.  Some summer squash, several cucumbers.  A debate ensues over how much lettuce to pick, as what we may leave behind may bolt or turn bitter in the hot weather.  Our next generation of seedlings were only planted last week, so are not ready for transplant to take the place of the picked lettuce.  We also planted more lettuce today.  Collard greens are plentifully abundant, although many gardeners prefer the swiss chard.

There is much promise of more to come.  The tall corn displays purple and golden tassels.  Immature pumpkins and watermelons hide in the trellis of leaves.  We added more support (netting them with plastic mesh) to some of them.  The winter squash has plenty of flowers, and the Jerusalem artichokes are blooming.  The sunflowers seemed to have shaken off the early-season leaf eaters, and are climbing high.  And even the weeds are prospering, encroaching from the paths even as the vegetables encroach onto the paths.  We'll have to do something about that.

We applied a spray of a small amount of potassium bicarbonate mixed with water to the squash and watermelon plants.  Unlike the last two years, we've seen no mildew, so getting an early start at prevention seems to have worked.  We did a pH test of the soil near the tomatoes, and added some lime.  We're watching closely for signs of blossom end-rot.

Given yesterday's rain, the compost was deemed too wet to sift and extract, even though one pile is clearly ready.  Instead, we turned both piles, to feed them air.

Water, water, water, says one of the garden planners, who says the fruiting plants (e.g. tomatoes and eggplants) especially want it.  No one saw any pests, like the tomato horn worm of last week, and we have some bees buzzing around our flowers.

Not everything picked is 100% perfect.  One tomato did not pass the eat-me test.  Some parsnips decided to stop growing down after they encountered some rocks.

The biggest surprise of the day was the lack of visitors.  Normally we get about twenty, divided between adults and children.

As the white board gets all checked off, people gather for tea, and we start the divvy-up process, a mix today of some things in piles and other things (like greens) taken in turns.  Herbs like rosemary and chives are taken separately by those who want them.

As we finish near Noon, the sun decides to go behind the clouds again.

Transitioning to Autumn


Late September marks a transition to Autumn in the garden. We've recently planted several plots in cover crops: Beets, Soy Beans, Onions, Potatoes and the Three Sisters (Corn, early Pole Beans & Pumpkins). 

Some crops are showing signs of slowing down: Bush Beans, Broccoli, Cucumbers, Eggplants, Peppers, Summer and Winter Squashes, Tomatoes and Watermelons.

Other crops are still at peak: Pole Beans, many of the Greens, Okra & Tomatillos. And a few crops will be peaking later this Fall: Brussels Sprouts, late-season Cabbage, Carrots, Kale, Leeks, late-season Lettuce, Parsnips, Radishes & Spinach.


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