- Planting starts
- Brassica family crops
- Covering crops for pest control
This past long weekend in Burlington was full of excitement between the 2o14 Key Bank Vermont City Marathon & Relay (kudos to you VCGN runners!) and Memorial Day celebrations. However, there was just as much excitement to be had in the Community Teaching Gardens as our students began planting their own starts and finally received their plot assignments! There were even some delicious treats to be shared as well!
Although both of our classes had previously sown seeds in the gardens, this week’s planting activities revolved around using starts, or sprouted plants that had been seeded in containers before the weather and soil conditions permitted successful planting. Some tips covered by Denise included the ‘hardening off’ of starts, a process in which the seedlings are gradually exposed to the outdoors. The goal being to build up the seedlings ability to withstand outdoor temperatures and less ‘baby-sitting’ by the gardener. Denise also provided a demo on the root ‘boundness’ of starts, or when the roots of the starts begin to take up majority of the container space, providing little room for continued growth. This is certainly a sign of the plant’s desire to literally spread its roots and continue its growth. After a demo of how to remove the starts from the containers, Denise showed the students the proper methods for planting them into the soil of the prepared beds.
Plants of the Brassica Family:
After receiving their long-awaited plot assignments, Wednesday and Thursday’s classes got their hands dirty with Denise as they set about planting some awesome-looking starts from Red Wagon Plants that Libby, our lovely Program Manager, had delivered to the gardens. The starts included several examples from the brassica family, a genus of vegetables that includes crops like kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, mustard seed, and cauliflower. Many of these veggies provide excellent sources of vitamin C and fiber, not to mention they’re absolutely delicious. Each of our gardeners got to work planting two types of cabbages and some broccoli in their individual plots, and then shared the job of planting Brussels sprouts in the communal beds. We can’t wait to taste some of these delicious crops at our upcoming potlucks!
Covering crops for pest control:
In a continuation of last week’s discussion on covering crops to prevent the destruction of native pests, like the flea beetle, Denise had the students apply their own row covers after planting their lovely, yet vulnerable starts. Aside from creating a physical barrier between crops and pests, row covers can also protect starts from cold and wind and discourage the spread of disease. Row covers can be either draped directly over the crops or can be coupled with metal hoops or wooden supports to provide space between the crops and fabric. It is important to note that some crops that require pollination will need their covers removed for periods during the daytime to allow our bee friends to get to work, but other crops, like tomatoes, do not require this. For more information on row covers and when to use them visit: http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/row-covers/5111.html.
With our fourth week coming to close, our gardens and gardeners have begun to flourish and we couldn’t be more excited to see what the remainder of the gardening season holds in store!