- DIY Root Cellar with Peg
- Garden Lessons Learned with Diane
- First corn harvest from Three Sisters Garden
- Garden upkeep
- Student presentations
Although this Week 18’s classes were interrupted by the long holiday weekend (we aren’t complaining), there was plenty of activity in the Community Teaching Gardens. We heard another round of wonderfully crafted student presentations midst some lovely sunshine, and Denise returned from her travels! On Wednesday, the Tommy Thompson class was fortunate enough to harvest the first corn from the developing Three Sisters Garden, which is now boasting some growing winter squash as well as string beans! Our student’s lovely harvests are proof that summer is certainly not over yet!
DIY Root Cellar with Peg:
On Wednesday, Peg, a first year in the Tommy Thompson class, imparted her knowledge and experience in creating her own ‘root cellars’ in her garage. For the past several years, Peg and her husband have had a share in a family friend’s CSA in Fairfax where they often use their ‘credit’ at the end of the season to get a large installment of root veggies for the winter. For anyone whose had a CSA, sometimes storage can be a challenge, especially if you receive most of your share in one ‘lump sum’. Thus, out of necessity Peg and her husband devised four small root cellars in their unheated garage made of plastic covered bins, some insulation material, a horse blanket, and an electric blanket to store their harvest throughout the cold months.
Their system has developed over the years, and all of the bins are encompassed by the insulation material and blankets in order to prevent freezing. In order to retain moisture in the bins of the veggies that require such conditions, Peg places a layer of play sand. Additionally, the temperature of the bins are carefully monitored with the help of a sensor thermometer, with the sensor device being placed in one of the bins and the other half inside the house. Once the temperature inside the bins reaches close to freezing, the thermometer will begin flashing, thus alerting Peg that she needs to switch on the electric blanket for a period of time to generate some heat. Although it can be challenging to store root veggies properly without an extra fridge/freezer in the cold Vermont winters, Peg has devised an interesting alternative! Thanks for sharing!
Garden Lessons Learned with Diane:
Following Peg’s presentation, Diane shared some of the experimentations and experiences she had this season in her other plot at the Tommy Thompson garden. She practiced with digging raised beds, growing cauliflower, and different methods for controlling pests. The following are some of the valuable lessons she learned, which she will definitely consider in following gardening seasons:
- Test your soils! It’s cheap and will take some of the guessing out of whether your plants are having watering or nutrient issues.
- Plant peas and spinach as early as possible for first harvest, mid-April is a good time as long as there are no predicted frosts.
- Raised beds are good for crops like sweet potatoes, which generally flourish in warm soils, but may cause difficulties for other crops. Think about planting other plants that enjoy this same environment if you’re going to use raised beds, and don’t forget to consider the increased drainage!
- When planting cauliflower, blanching is key! In order to achieve the white hue of a cauliflower head, the crown must be blanched by loosely enclosing the leaves around it. This will prevent the crown from turning unattractive colors.
- Aphids, a tiny garden-pest, are often extremely infuriating for a gardener to deal with. However, Diane found they really dislike potassium and completely rid her plants of them by placing banana peels around the base of her growing sweet potatoes. It’s a cheap and ecologically sustainable all you need to do is eat bananas!!
It was inspiring to hear Diane’s presentations, especially as she spoke the things she’d like to try/adjust for next year. We’re excited to see where her acquired gardening knowledge takes her in the growing seasons to come!
With 18 weeks down and 4 to go, the CTG program is entering its final stretch of the growing season. While we’re certainly sad that this year’s cohort will soon be ‘graduating’, we are determined to cherish and celebrate our remaining time and harvests as a growing community of gardeners!