CTG 2014 Week 6: June 7 to 12- Sweet Potatoes, the TT Herb Spiral, Weeding Tips, and harvesting

Topics:

  • Planting sweet potato slips
  • The Herb Spiral: A Permaculture Concept (TT)
  • Weeds vs. Seedling Sprouts

Activities:

  • Mulching beds with hay
  • Harvesting Alpine Strawberries
  • Making seed tape with organic paper towels (Mini-lesson from Chandra)
First Strawberry
Martine & her strawberry!

With the end of our sixth week of the Community Teaching Garden program our students have really started to see the ‘fruits’ of their labor appear, quite literally.  Both classes were able to harvest some juicy, red Alpine Strawberries, and the Tommy Thompson group was elated to see that some cilantro and corn, recently planted in the Three Sister’s Garden, had sprouted.    Our second-year student/mentor, Steve, also has some fine-looking peas!  It’s safe to say that we will certainly have some delicious, garden-fresh ingredients available for our next CTG potluck!

Beans
Hello, beans

 

Planting Sweet Potatoes:

This past Saturday and Sunday (June 7-8th) was celebrated with the 7th annual Sweet Potato Slip Sale, a VCGN fundraiser, at Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg.  Thus it was no surprise that planting sweet potatoes, a plant of tropical origins, was on the agenda this week.  Denise guided the students in the proper way of planting the slips, which are sprouts that originate from a mature spud, beginning with creating small mounds for planting in.  The slips were then placed into the prepared mounds about 1 ft apart and the roots and stems buried, leaving only the leaves above ground.  Remaining conscious of spacing when planting sweet potatoes is important, as they generally require a lot of space to continue their growth.    Some delicious sweet potato recipes are sure to come once we are able to harvest these copper-colored beauts!

Sweet potato slip lesson
Sweet potato slip lesson

The Tommy Thompson Herb Spiral: A Permaculture Concept

If you have ever wandered into the CTG site at the Tommy Thompson Community Garden, you have most likely noticed the large stone spiral that lies slightly behind the welcome sign.  This striking example of stone masonry doesn’t only provide some aesthetic appeal, but also serves a more practical purpose, which was discussed during Wednesday evening’s class.  Herb spirals, inspired by permaculture practices, represents a low-maintenance approach to growing herbs in a space-concious and bio-diverse manner.  A variety of herbs may be grown within an herb spiral as it provides appropriate microclimates for each: the top provides well-drained soil and direct sun, and the bottom allows for more moist soil and shade from the sun.   For more information as well as a guided construction plan, visit: http://www.foodproduction101.com/blog/how-to-build-an-herb-spiral-part-1.html

Unknown-1
A basic herb spiral plan

Weeds vs. Seedling Sprouts:

As many of our seedlings have sprouted, it is not surprising that some pesky weeds have started to surface alongside them.    As has Denise has mentioned several times, it can be difficult for beginning gardeners to decipher between weeds and seedling sprouts, which can cause some obvious consequences when one is eagerly weeding away.  Thus it was important that she provide our students with some tips on telling weeds and sprouts a part.  Weeds, specifically grasses, have leaves that alternate and overlap one another up the stem.  Seedling sprouts on the other hand, have two leaves, also known as cotyledons, which sprout from a singular point at the top of the stem.  As Denise stressed, if you are  in doubt you should leave the plants to grow another week so that they are more easily identifiable, or ask a gardening expert like her!

Shelley
Shelley’s looking pleased with her sprouts!
Peas-1
Trellising peas at Ethan Allen

After rounding out  class with some hay mulching at the Ethan Allen site and a mini-lesson on organic seed tape from Chandra at the Tommy Thompson, our sixth week together has come to an end.  We are thrilled and inspired by the consistent effort and optimism being put forth by our wonderful group of students, and are honored to assist them in meeting their gardening aspirations!

Oscar
Oscar dutifully supervising

P.S.- A huge thanks goes to CTG student Lynne Cardozo for the photos this week- they’re beautiful!

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