Week 5: June 4, 7

Topics:

  • Planting individual plots
  • Plant spacing and varieties
  • Insects in the garden: pests vs. beneficials

Summary of week’s activities:

  • Planting from starts and seeds
  • Work in individual plots
  • Planted another bed of group potatoes
  • FBG sweet potato slip sale this Saturday!

Gardeners set to work this week planting their individual beds. We purchased transplants, or small plants which were started earlier in the season by seed in a greenhouse. Because the growing season is relatively short in Vermont, warm season crops like tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers must be either started indoors several weeks before the last frost date or purchased as starts. Starts need to be hardened off, or acclimated to outdoor conditions, before being planted outside. Methods of hardening off include setting plants outside for increasing amounts of time during the day to get them used to the wind, sun and temp changes, using a fan to simulate the wind, and setting them in an open window to get them used to the sun.

The starts that we got into the soil included three varieties of tomato- cherries (Sungolds!), sauce and slicers. Each variety has it’s own niche and use for preparation. We planted cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, okra, brussel sprouts, leeks onions, cucumbers, and more!

Some common garden plants are at risk of damage from cutworms, so students were shown how to place cutworm collars around transplants when setting them in the ground. Cutworm collars can be made of newspaper, short plastic straws split up the side, or other materials, and are wrapped around the base of the stem until the stem becomes hardy enough to withstand cutworms. The Brassica family of garden plants are especially susceptible to the cutworm.

Companion planting, or planting two crops that are mutually beneficially next to each other, was also discussed this week. One example of companion planting is the classic “three sisters garden” where corn, beans and squash are planted together. Other examples of companion planting include planting shade loving plants under tall plants, placing plants that repel pests near other crops, and trap cropping. In trap cropping, a less valuable crop that strongly attracts a pest is planted next to a more valuable crop. This protects the crop, by drawing pests away from it. One pest deterrent that we planted at random in the garden by seed is marigold. Some pests that we know are in the garden are cucumber beetle and squash borer. In the shed we have a laminated information guide which will show which bugs we want in the garden and which we want to kill.

Also, this Saturday is the Friends of Burlington Gardens sweet potato slip sale! For more info, http://www.burlingtongardens.org/sweet_potato_sale.html

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