- Dealing with fungal diseases
- ‘How do squash develop?’
- Harvesting radishes, sugar snap & shelling peas, and lettuce
- Identifying & monitoring pests: Colorado Potato Beetles & Japanese Beetles
As we approach the half -way mark of the 22-week Community Teaching Garden program, the gardens are quite literally bursting with life! The repeatedly wet weather has left a vibrant forest of green in our students’ garden plots, and each class there are more and more veggies and herbs to be harvested. This week, our students relished in the amount of sugar snap and shelling peas they were able to munch on while weeding away in the garden. Lynne, our photography and social media extraordinaire, also had quite an impressive harvest of gorgeous radishes at Monday evening’s class at the Ethan Allen Homestead. We are eagerly awaiting for the growing tomatoes and peppers to shed their green hues and ripen…. I foresee some salsas in our future!
Dealing with Fungal Diseases:
Just like pests, fungal diseases are a potentially frustrating obstacle any gardener will face. In both Monday and Wednesday’s classes, Denise came prepared to address the fungal diseases that were sure to, or already had begun to, infringe on the health of the growing curcurbids (i.e. squash, cucumbers). As with pest control, dealing with fungal diseases using organic methods requires some creativity and seemingly unconventional resources. That being said, Denise came armed and ready to class with two spray bottles, one filled with very diluted cow’s milk and the other with diluted baking soda, and then instructed the students to spray their veggies. As Denise explained, the milk mixture provides a layer of protein over the leaves of the given plants, thus making it more difficult for the fungal diseases to penetrate. Likewise, the baking soda combination has been said to change the chemistry of the disease, reducing its effectiveness in the process. Fungal diseases can really be a pain to deal with, but there are some other preventative measures that can be taken, including:
- Pay attention to spacing when planting, allowing for air flow prevents spread of diseases
- Use clean tools, not sanitizing tools after use on diseased plants can contribute to spreading the unwanted affliction
- Avoid monocultures
- Keep your plants and soils healthy with the proper pH, regular watering, proper sunlight etc.
‘How do squash develop?’:
One of our students asked the above question as we discussed the growth of the yellowy-orange squash blossoms in the communal beds. This prompt turned into a teaching moment for the class as we discussed the development of the actual fruits of the squash plant and its reproductive parts. Squash have both male and female parts, which present as those lovely-looking flowers on a maturing plant. It is at the base of a fertilized female flower that the squash itself begins to develop. The male flowers look quite similar to their female counterparts but do not produce fruit, rather they are the blossoms that are often prized for their culinary purposes.
The CTG students really got deep into the dirt this week between some great harvesting and serious weeding. We also encountered our first Japanese beetles, which we will continue to keep a close eye on! Cheers to another rewarding week gardening and growing together!