2013 Flowers, Grains, etc. (end of season notes)

Okra: attractive plants, good okra – research germination anomalies, warm soil before planting?
Sunflowers: did well this year – grow same variety next year?
Three Sisters bed:  better than last year, but the squash plants needed more sun, and the beans pulled the corn over – move the corn & beans to the center of the bed with the squash around the outside, plant squash same time as other squashes, plant beans 1 week later next year.

2013 Squashes (end of season notes)

Powdery mildew – grow resistant varieties where possible
Squash vine borers – grow resistant varieties where possible, experiment with non-surgical methods
Cucumbers: did well, excellent yield (many dozens) – give a bit less real estate, grow pickling type on arbor next year
Pumpkins: disappointing yield (@ 12), lots of powdery mildew
Watermelons: good yield (@ 20), some vine withering, a few rotted and a few were harvested too late
Winter Squash (Delicata): disappointing yield (@ 12), lots of vine borers – give more space?
Zucchini & Zephyr (Summer Squash): good yield, compact plants worked well in space

2013 Nightshades (end of season notes)

Eggplant: Italian, Asian & White, plants less robust – result of weather or fertilizing or location in garden?
Peppers: the best year ever, all varieties (bells, poblanos & chilis) did well – repeat varieties, staging
Tomatoes: many suffered from diseases, good long yield from remaining plants – grow more resistant varieties next year, cover soil with landscape fabric to warm it before planting, experiment with clover groundcover, repeat sucker experiment, plant some in lettuce bed, try a grafted plant, more normal-size varieties & fewer zebras next year?
     SMALL: Sun Gold*, Super Sweet 100*, Green Grape*  
     MEDIUM: Mountain Magic, Stupice^, Ramapo*, Paul Robeson^, Green Zebra^, Red Zebra^
     SAUCE: Granadero, Mariana*
     * varieties we should definitely consider next year
     ^ varieties that failed
Tomatillos: grew well, caging worked great – try one purple plant, start seeds a week or two later than tomatoes next year

2013 Legumes (end of season notes)

Bush Beans: all did well, wonderful varieties, didn’t last quite as long as last year
Dried Beans (3 sisters): planted closer to correct time to climb corn, good yield, tasty
Fava Beans: badly attacked by aphids, fairly low yield of very tasty beans
Peas: only early snap-type germinated, good yield. Broadcast late bush variety Super Snappy did well – try bush type shell pea in spring next year?
Pole Beans: Romanos planted early (where shell & snow peas crapped out) did well on trellis. Kentucky Blues planted after peas (which were slow this year) were last beans in garden.
Soybeans: good yield, plants seemed to mature over a shorter period than last year

2013 Greens (end of season notes)

Arugula: did well in shady spot, needed 3 plantings this year
Basil: started indoors and from seed in garden, all did well
Bok Choi: first planting did well, subsequent plantings did less well – one planting next year?
Cilantro: did well, needed 3 plantings (only got 2), not very popular – less next year?
Kales, Collards & Swiss Chard: seeded in garden, excellent spacing and productivity
Lettuce: need to plant every 2 weeks for continuous harvest – try new butterhead & romaine varieties?
Mesclun: did well, but not terribly popular – plant less or use space for lettuce next year?
Spinach: success! great germination and beautiful early & late season plants (left to winter over) – repeat next year?

2013 Brassicas (end of season notes)

Cold spring weather a problem for all early crop. Late crop started in garden and transplanted.
Broccoli: sprouting type was a bust, possibly weather stress. Late crop did better in potato bed
 – try heat tolerant variety next spring?
Brussels Sprouts: starting seedlings indoors produced more viable plants – plant further apart?
Cabbage: early green & red did well. Late green did well, red did not, savoy took a little too long.
Cauliflower: most early season produced tiny heads, a few heads produced normally & a few others took twice the time, late crop all produced well.
Romanesco Cauliflower: started indoors, plants produced tiny heads (like early broccoli & cauliflower) –give up or grow only late season

2013 Alliums (end of season notes)

Garlic: planted fresh stock this fall, sprang up fast!
Leeks: our best yet – transplant into 6-packs with other seedlings & plant later next year
Onion sets: our best yet. Planted farther apart than usual in single row around tomato beds
Onion seeds: great progress – transplant into 6-packs with other seedlings, plant rows closer together
Scallions: first planting did well, lasted – try broadcast planting early and harvest through season?

Field Day Report

We had LOTS of visitors, more than I think we had last year. Our table samples of cherry tomatoes, radishes, salad turnips, carrots, and even Jerusalem artichokes ran out -- the carrots ran out first.

We had people of all ages, from hand-held toddlers to seniors. We gave out lots of advice and got some in return! The scavenger hunt [coordinated by Oakes] required kids to get a leaf or weed from the Community Garden. Weed? Hard to find those! We had the kids try different leaves to find one whose smell or taste they liked:  spearmint or peppermint, lemon balm, sage, and when I got desperate, stevia and chives. One kid I couldn't satisfy!  

We also had some young adults visit us from Tufts, where they did their own gardening. They may steal some of our ideas for themselves (mediocre artists borrow, great artists steal), and may stop by next year to visit or get their hands dirty with us. Several other people were interested and may try us out next year. One even volunteered her son who she says loves to dig! Thanks to Alan and Sue and especially Elisabeth who heroically stayed until about 4:30pm.

Next year, I'd like more things for the kids to pick please -- especially root vegetables. Somehow, the carrot you pick yourself just tastes better -- just ask them! We could leave them salad turnips and radishes perhaps, as we won't have enough carrots? Also, I think there's some extra delight they take when they pull something out of the ground, because they don't know exactly what they're getting -- surprise! -- until it's out.

--Steven

P.S. You have to be impressed with the young girl who could tell the difference between dill and fennel!

Food Awareness Field Day at Spy Pond Field

Though not about our garden, I submit the following as being entirely consistent with our outlook about food and community. It appears I'll be giving one of the talks the story refers to, but for the record, I was already pursuing the story when Kareem, the organizer, suggested I speak.

 

Two years ago, Kareem Bouhafs, 23, of Arlington would have been wary of someone who wanted to warn him about genetically modified organisms, the use of pesticides on foods, or the many additives present in today’s food.

 

Saturday, he’ll not only be one of those people, he’ll be doing it on a grand scale by not only presenting but underwriting the first Food Awareness Field Day, scheduled for 1-7 p.m. at Spy Pond Field in Arlington. The event will combine children’s games, a young-adult-focused slate of concerts interspersed with brief talks about food issues, and, surprisingly, not much food.

The event is the first production of Project U-Knight, which Bouhafs conceives as a recreational events company that promotes causes. “I’m trying to make it a nonprofit, so we're still filing IRS paperwork. It’s not just about food. want to have festivals, field days, concerts... It can be a very profitable business, but take the profit out of it and add the awareness aspect and you can have very cheap events that serve a mission.”

Entry will cost $5 ages 13 and older; for those younger, entry is free until 4 p.m., when the fee changes to $2. For younger visitors, games will include Red Light, Green Light, Capture the Flag, and a scavenger hunt for toy bees that will have been salted around the site.

“We’re trying to inject information amid all these fun things. In terms of the hunt, we’re trying to present the information that a lot of bees are dying as the result of pesticides being used on food plants,” Bouhafs said.

Bouhafs, a former deejay at the Middle East nightclub in Cambridge, has also assembled a roster of musical acts that he hopes will draw his contemporaries. Performers will include DJ Doubletake, rappers, Philly G and G-Riot, and the band Score the Record.

To spread the word to families, about the event, Project U-Knights has been leafletting, putting up signs, and going door-to-door. Bouhafs said he is relying on social media, including a roster of e-dresses he built during his time at the Middle East. “I have a network of people who like to go to concerts. I have probably over a hundred people trying to promote it on social networks.

Typically, such events use food — very often heavily weighted toward high-calorie indulgences — not only to help draw crowds but to encourage spending, but not the Food Awareness Field Day. Only two options will be available: Dean’s Beans organic coffee will be sold from a truck outside the grounds, and Skinny Pop Popcorn, which has been donated by the manufacturer and will be parceled out for free. The corn is free of genetic modification, its owner says.

Bouhafs partly attributed the lack of food purveyors to relatively late approval for the event by town fathers. “We had to jump through a lot of hoops with the town, and food was a big issue. It had to be approved by the board of health. We just decided we would go to the vendors directly and let them deal with the Board of Health themselves.“

“We got the thumbs up from the town less than 2 weeks ago — we weren't even sure of the date two weeks ago.”

Bouhafs said he decided to start with a food event because beginning a couple of years ago, “I kept seeing more and more news articles, more and more studies, more and more on Facebook, and I started clicking on it. I wasn't the first, and I'm not the last.

“It's alarming, that's what it is. Once people know about it, they don't forget about it. That's why I’m doing this, to add to that pool of people who know about what’s happening with food.”

Michael Prager, a member of the garden, writes most often at michaelprager.com/blog, where this story first appeared.

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