Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beneficial Insects/ our new employee, Sheryl

We are now moving into the swing of the season. Most of the plants are in - we planted about 1000 feet of winter squash, cucumbers and summer squash in the past week. Much of it has been mulched - thanks to Anny and Trisha for helping out yesterday on on work day! We also laid about 1000' of row cover which will keep out the squash vine borer and the cucumber beetle as well as the flea beetle. The first two can kill the plants by either laying their larvae near the stem which then tunnels into the vine or by spreading a deadly virus. The flea beetle will suck the juices out of a seedling so that's also lethal. After about 42 days, we'll lift the row cover and let the pollinators move in and do their thing - resulting in fruit. By that time, hopefully, the plants will be strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the beetles and we will have the time to patrol the rows and watch for the borers, carefully cut them out, spray inside the stem with a little pyrethrin, and cover the wound with soil.

We walk the potatoes every morning and evening, patrolling for potato beetles. Luckily we don't have too many. Maybe 3 - 7 plants per row will be infected. We squish the little ones and put the adults or huge larvae in a jar with soapy water. I don't want to spray these plants. They're supporting a nice bunch of flea beetles but they won't kill the plants. If the potato beetles take over, they will completely defoliate the plants. But, I see many many daddy long legs, lady beetles, hover flies, and predatory beetles. These are beneficial and we need to protect them to have balance in the garden. There's an occasional toad or tree frog. I even saw a lace wing today - a first. So I do everything I can not to spray or interfere chemically or even with neem oil or diatamaceous earth.
If you can see it, this is a ladybug larvae eating an aphid. They look like mini-alligators. Note the orange spot on the back.

That said, I'm getting ready to pull out something for the okra - it's getting attacked again by flea beetles and aphids and this is the second planting so if the seedlings take a dive again, it might be too late to re-plant so that will mean a lost crop. It's a balancing act.

Sheryl joined me about a week and a half ago as our first employee. I am so pleased to welcome her and have her working with us. She's a student at Washtenaw and is thinking about pursuing a degree in nutrition at EMU. She has taken the Organic Gardening Certification classes offered through Washtenaw Community College and also has worked for a greenhouse for a few years. This is her first job working in the field and I think she likes it so far. It's tough work - sometimes tedious, often hard and hot and buggy. So if you have a chance to meet her, please thank her for her help.

I have also been lucky to have the help of Ana - a volunteer that has been working regularly over the past 6 or 7 weeks. She recently retired from UofM and is volunteering at a number of places. She is originally from Romania so she brings perspective that I do not have and that I appreciate. She helped us plant potatoes, weed the onions, harvest the veggies Friday, and much more. She takes the bus to Scio Church and Maple, walks here, works for 4 - 6 hours, walks back to the bus stop, and goes home to, presumably, melt in the tub. She says she does it for selfish reasons - a work out - but I really appreciate it! Again, if you have a chance to meet her, please say thanks.

More later. Please think about the wasps in your garden and household. They're voracious consumers of mosquitoes and other pests. Many lay their eggs into worms (parasitize worms) in order to reproduce. If you kill all of the "bad" bugs, the "good" bugs won't have anything to eat or a way to reproduce. Makes you wonder who the "other' is.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Garlic Scapes & reminder about Work Day

Just when I told a member last week that the variety of garlic that we planted hasn't produced any scapes - here we go! This is new for us as we haven't grown garlic in this quantity before and have never cooked with the scapes.

Diana Dyer and her husband have a garlic farm and she posted the following link which I'll share:
It gives some good ideas on how to use them. In addition, I hear garlic scape pesto is good but I haven't made it yet - I assume the recipe is the same as any other pesto but I'll have to check it out.

Get ready - there's a lot of scapes to go around this week!

Also - I removed the row cover from the summer squash that is in the east garden and the plants are blooming. It shouldn't be long before we have some zucchini and yellow squash! It's a shorter row so we won't get a lot at first but the second and third plantings will follow.

Reminder: There is a work day scheduled for this Saturday from 12 - 4. Please let me know if you plan to stop over. It will go on, rain or shine, unless we have thunder and lightning.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rain, again

Not to sound like a broken record, but we had almost 3" of rain last night. Fortunately, the tornado that hit Dundee did not roll through here and I don't think we had severe wind. The hoop is intact - there's evidence of a gully wash toward the entrance but that area isn't planted and all appears OK in there. The front garden was immersed in water - 3/4 of it at least. I was really worried about the garlic because it doesn't like standing water. The east garden had a few puddles but is OK. The west garden - from which we are eating currently - was covered 50% by water this morning. Much thanks to Victoria and Bob who brought over pumps! We've been moving water to the orchard much of the day. There's a lot of water so it will take some time. But the plants are not uprooted and it should work out. There is no standing water in the front garden now. Hopefully it will dry up and the garlic will be OK.

I'm hoping that it will be dry enough for me to walk in there and harvest on Tuesday or Wednesday for this week's distribution. Today I went in barefoot - if you wear your boots or shoes, they just sink in the mud and it's twice as much work to walk than if you go barefoot. But, there are creepy crawly things in there and, when they swim alongside your toes, it's kind of surprising.

If I can find our camera, I'll post pictures.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Distributions start this week

Hi all -
If you have not been receiving e-mails from me over the past few weeks, please let me know. I've sent out several related to a mini-distribution that we had last week along with some general info. re. pickups, etc. If you haven't received them, I need to add your name to the distribution list.

The 2010 Capella Farm CSA season officially starts this week! I'm beginning to prepare the boxes now for tomorrow. Pick up is from 2 - 7 on Wednesday and 11 - 2 Saturday.

I'll post more info. on the What's In The Box page.

When you come, please check off your name on the list showing that you picked up your box and returned your box from the previous week. Again, some people find it easier to bring their own carrying case with which to take their produce home and they leave the box here. Up to you.

See you soon!