CTG 2014 Week 7: June 14 to 19- DIY Trellises, Dealing with Pests, Thinning Demo Part II, & more planting and harvesting

Topics:

  • DIY Tomato Trellising
  • Pest Control: Colorado Potato Beetle
  • Thinning Demo Results

Activities:

  • Building bamboo trellises (Ethan Allen)
  • Planting sweet potatoes (TT)
  • Planting black-eyed peas (TT)
  • Harvesting strawberries & mesclun
  • Tool sharpening demo from Libby (Ethan Allen)
Strawberries
Yum!

It’s quite incredible to watch the continued progress that’s been going on in the Community Teaching Garden sites.  It seems like every other day a new crop has sprouted while another is suddenly ready for  harvesting.   We certainly overheard some squeals of excitement this week as our students arrive to class to find that there was several strawberries, mesclun greens, and radishes ready to be harvested.   It truly is wonderful to see how a bit of time, focus, instruction, and of course some tender, loving care can result in such beautiful gardens!

Planting Sweet Potatoes
Planting Sweet Potatoes at Tommy Thompson
Black Eyed Peas
Planting black-eyed peas

DIY Tomato Trellising:

While some time was spent discussing the purpose of trellising a couple weeks ago, it was time this week to apply it to the growing tomato plants that will surely start producing fruits soon.  Denise provided a guided demonstration on how to utilize bamboo stakes, an extremely durable material for trellising and other building projects, and some twine to create triangular structures to support the tomatoes.  The bamboo stakes were joined at a point with the twine, and then inserted into the ground so the tomato plants were fully encompassed.  Some more twine was then wound loosely from the stakes around the stem and back to provide some flexible support.   Aside from bamboo stakes, tomato cages and pre-manufactured trellises can be purchased online or at locations like Gardener’s Supply, but they can be costly and take up a lot of storage space.  Tomatoes can be quite finicky in terms of their cultivation, and so it is always a good idea to utilize a trellis to keep the plants supported, prevent the tomatoes from touching the ground where they will surely rot, and to increase air flow to reduce the rate of fungal diseases.  Many of our tomato-loving students are excited to hear from UVM Farmer Training Program student, Lea Scott, next Monday as she gives a talk on everything tomatoes!

Talking about trellis'
A demo on trellising
Shelly
Shelley improving her trellising expertise

Pest Control: The Colorado Potato Beetle

This Wednesday, a student approached Denise at the Tommy Thompson site to mention that there seemed to be some pest damage on the  potato plants and Denise replied with an, ‘Ah, yes…’ as if she knew it was inevitable.  Thus, a lesson on controlling the infamous Colorado Potato Beetle and its even more destructive larvae was in order.    Colorado potato beetles are small, ovular insects with distinct stripped markings.  Once they are identified it is important to check the underside of the given plant’s leaves to see if its bright yellowish-orange eggs have been laid.  These eggs, along with their parents, should be immediately removed and disposed as they will undoubtedly wreak havoc upon the plant’s leaves once they hatch.  It is important to continually monitor your potato plants on a regular basis to keep this pest under  control.  Denise advised that the students should check the potatoes any time they stop by the garden so that they may have a fighting chance!

Potato Beetle
The notorious Colorado Potato Beetle
CPB Eggs
Potato beetle eggs
Snails
Diane found some snails…

Thinning Demo Results:

During our first couple weeks of the CTG program, Denise had the class plant radishes in the communal beds at both sites in preparation of a thinning demonstration.  One section of the radishes were thinned as they began to sprout while the other was not.  This week, radishes from both sections at the Tommy Thompson site were harvested and the results were just as expected; the thinned radishes had plump, developed roots while the others were quite minuscule and underdeveloped.  These results were to show the students that without thinning, many seedlings will attempt to outcompete one another leaving less of a harvest in the long-run.  Thus, to get the most out of your crops keep an out for the smaller seedlings as those should be the ones that are thinned out to allow the proper conditions for more desirable crops to flourish!

Thinning
To thin or not to thin

This week was certainly full of beautiful first harvests and weather, and we are excited to continue watching our students and gardens grow together throughout the rest of the summer!

TT- overview
Tommy Thompson
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