Week 7: June 18, 21

Topics:

  • Differentiating between carrots and grass
  • Mulching
  • Why we hill potatoes

Summary of week’s activities:

  • Watered entire garden
  • Planted most of the transplants
  • Direct seeded kale and swiss chard
  • Hilled potatoes
  • Second potluck

Weeds were becoming plentiful in the garden. Unsure of which plants were crops and which were weeds, the class was taught to identify the difference between baby carrots and grass. It is surprisingly difficult! The trick is to look at the shoots coming off of the stem. If they are alternating, or staggered, it is a grass, and if there are two branches coming out of the same part, making a “V”-shape, it is a carrot. This is particularly important to be aware of when thinning out your carrots.

National Gardening Association: Gallery of common garden weeds:
http://www.garden.org/weedlibrary/

One common technique to reduce weeds is mulch. To mulch a garden gardeners use straw, hay, black plastic, and even newspaper or burlap sacks. We will be using hay to mulch the community garden. The difference between hay and straw is that the hay might still have some seeds in it, which you want to be careful about. Mulching prevents weeds from germinating, adds organic matter to the soil, and holds moisture. Mulch should be laid after the soil has warmed, otherwise germination of seeds and growth of plants will be slowed. Although much should be placed around plants, it should not directly touch the base of plants to reduce fungal disease and access by certain pests.

The class also learned about hilling potatoes. “Hilling” is a technique of piling soil up along the base of the potato plant. This technique is used to increase the productivity of potatoes. Our botanist garden teacher informed the class that a potato is in fact a modified stem, not a root as we often think of it. In addition to increasing production, hilling potatoes prevents the potatoes from being exposed to sunlight and turning green. Gardeners should hill two or three weeks after the potato plants germinates and continues piling the soil until the first flower appears.

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Other exciting news from the garden is the appearance of garlic scapes. Stiff-neck garlic sends out a stalk from the center of the bulb, called the scape. If you allow this to continues growing, the bulb will not grow as big, and so it is recommended that gardeners nip the scape. Scapes are delicious added to vegetable stir fry, rousted, grilled, pickled, or made into garlic scape pesto. This is a recipe from the website veganyumyum.com:

Garlic Scape Pesto
Serves Two

1/2 lb Fresh Garlic Scapes
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Large Pinch Salt
Black Pepper
1/3 Cup Pine Nuts (or other nut)
2 Tbs Oil
Lemon Juice, to taste

Chop the scapes into 1 inch long pieces. Add 2 tbs oil to a heated pan and add the scapes. Add salt, pepper, and pine nuts and saute for a few minutes over medium high heat until the scapes begin to soften and the nuts turn golden brown. Add immediately to the work bowl of a food processor and add remaining oil. Blend well until a smooth paste forms. Taste and add more salt or some lemon juice to brighten. This will coat 1/2 lb. of pasta.

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Also, the second year community gardeners have been working steadily and quietly on their own beds, here are a few inspiring images:

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This Thursday is the second Community Teaching Garden Potluck, where first and second year gardener will have a chance to swap ideas, stories and suggestions over delicious foods!

Happy summer solstice everyone!

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