Here are some observations from our Walkabout on August 27.
1. Fall Cover Crops: nearly a dozen of you took seeds to cover crop your plots. The remaining seeds were put in the shed for anyone else to use. Please remember: these seeds should be planted by mid-September. If you still have summer/fall crops in the ground, you can seed around them or interplant within row spaces. The point is to never have bare soil in your plot; there should always be something working the soil. The seeds we were given by OSU are crops that will put out some growth in the next several months, will be winter killed by mid January and the remaining material can easily be worked into the soil in time for spring planting.
2. Insect Pests/Diseases: We squashed some squash bugs and their eggs during the walkabout. Look on the bottom of squash leaves for the shiny, yellowish brown to reddish eggs. Squashing them means fewer adults next year. The adults will overwinter….so they need to go too!
We also saw a few cucumber beetles and evidence of munching by others, particularly on bean plants. It was very interesting that the west side of the garden seemed to be affected more than the east side. Any ideas??? We did pull a bean plant out and all of us got a chance to see the nodules on the root…..full of nitrogen for the soil and your plants!
There was a good deal of evidence of fungal diseases. It’s time to get mildewy cucumber vines out of the garden and into the garbage (not the compost pile). We’ve had quite a wet summer, although the past week or so has been dry. We can’t control the weather and as one of you said to me: “It’s a good thing we’re not growing for our livelihood here.”
3. Compost Pile: Speaking of the compost pile, we’ll get compost much faster if the material you put in gets chopped up a bit. Whole plants will take a much longer time to decompose. Several of us went through the compost pile at the work party and did a significant amount of chopping….please help us out and don’t throw in whole plants this fall. We did see some plastic clips/ties in the pile too. Plastic won’t ever decompose; don’t put it in, please!
4. Harvesting/weeding, etc.: Congratulations to most of you! The garden looks a thousand times more productive than last year! Most of you have kept the weeds at bay….it’s the paths and common areas that still need some work. HOWEVER…..it is really painful to walk through and see all the veggies that could be harvested. Don’t let them get overripe!
5. Soil Testing: Some of you seem interested in testing your soil now that you’ve spent some time amending. There are handouts from the University of Mass. in the shed. They have a very good soil testing service which comes complete with recommendations. If you do get a soil test, please share your results with me. I’m keeping track of how our soil improves for OSU. If you have any questions or want my help in collecting the sample, please let me know.
As always, let me know if you have any questions or need any help.
Jo Ann Bartsch