Monday, September 11, 2017

September 2nd & 9th at the Garden

First, a quick reminder that our potluck is coming up soon, on Sunday, September 17th at 4:30 PM at the Kitchen Garden. We hope you can make it! Please send any questions to Gabriela.

On September 2nd we had smaller than usual group: Mark, Linda H., Linda M., Susan and Els. Mark was at his best, as always, tidying up. He removed practically all the lambs quarter that was growing under the table  in preparation for the pot luck dinner. There was a great crop of eggplants and cucumbers for the food pantry. It was harvest time in the individual plots too, plus cutting back tomatillo and tomato plants. Susan tested the dripping system and all tubes seem to be working. She did change the settings so that there is more water per session. Last but not least, the lettuce seedlings Susan had left in the garden before her vacations were big enough to be planted out. We hope to still get a fall crop of them.

- Els.

On September 9th, we had a nice crowd at the garden: Marcelo and his cousin Marisa, who's visiting from Argentina, Blanca, Solange, Iris, Els, Mark, Susan, Ben, and Gabriela. We did the usual harvesting and tending, weeding as well as a bit of cover crop planting. Gabriela brought a hoe--a tool Doug DeCandia had recommended to prepare planting areas--and Mark brought cover crop seed mixes and a flat spade to help cut plant residues and other compostable materials for faster decomposition. We were lucky to have Solange, who made two trips home to affix the handle to the hoe and then later to sharpen the spade edge--thank you Solange and Ernesto (Solange's husband)!! 

Our first ever potato harvest!

Iris gives her plot a bit of extra moisture

Marisa and Marcelo evaluate the eggplants
Susan carefully thins her plants

Mark puts to use the new flat spade

Solange and Blanca confer on the health of these tomato plants

Els saws cover crop seeds.
 
Ben is trying to tame his tomatillos

Gabriela harvests some calendula flowers.
- Gabriela.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kitchen Garden Update + Potluck

Please mark your calendars for the annual Kitchen Garden potluck! It will be on Sunday, September 17th from 4:30 to 7:30 PM and everyone is invited! We will also be offering a compost mini-training by Elisa Zazzera that same day. Keep an eye on your email for a reminder closer to the date.

It's been a busy summer, and with many of us in and out of town and catching up with various activities, we haven't been able to communicate as regularly as usual. Instead of trying to recap everything that's been going on, here is a selection of snapshots from the past few weeks. Enjoy and we hope to see you at the potluck!

The garden has been lush this summer!
Linda proudly displays one of her record breaking tomatos!
Here we are tasting one of the huge tomatoes--it was delicious!
Iris was exultant over her first carrots!
Thanks to Solange's husband we now have access to the tool shed once again! Yay!
Ben spent a good part of this day cutting back the overgrown weeds
Blanca ready for another gardening day!
Discussing the tomato harvest
       
The herbs are doing well.
And we're getting lots of cucumbers.
We've done a few seed experiments. These are cilantro seeds, also known as coriander. To be used as seed for next year of as spice.
A sample of the Food Pantry harvest.
- Gabriela.

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 8th compost update

The compost keeps evolving fine with temperatures above 110°F at the active pile and a bit below 100°F at the maturing pile. Marcelo and I added some browns to the right pile by tearing apart some seedling containers and a wet corrugated cardboard box. But we're still low and at this rate will run out of browns very soon.

So... WE NEED EVERYBODY TO CHIP IN, IN ORDER TO AVOID INTERRUPTIONS: If you happen to still have some dry leaves around, PLEASE BRING THEM and add to the browns pile (rightmost one) when you come to drop off your scraps. Other suitable browns are cores of paper towels / toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, brown paper bags, or other low-quality paper/carton, always cut, shredded, or torn into small pieces (nicer paper is best recycled). Sawdust is good but may require a closed container and careful handling to avoid a mess, AND the wood has to be untreated.

Just in case, a bit of info: remember that "browns" is a shorthand for materials that are high in carbon. "Greens" is shorthand for materials high in nitrogen. BUT don't judge just by the color! For example, coffee grounds are brown in color, but are high in nitrogen and thus considered a green in composting. I hope this is not confusing! We'll be offering a mini-training / refresher soon. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with questions.

-Gabriela.

July 8th at the Kitchen Garden

It was another busy morning at the garden! Blanca, Ben, Iris, Linda M, Marcelo, Susan, and Gabriela were in attendance, and Akiko stopped by for a while.

In addition to the usual weeding, harvesting and watering the areas outside the irrigation system, Blanca arranged the tomato plants inside the cages and tied them up. We also planted eggplant, pepper, leek, and Brussels sprout seedlings donated by Hilltop Hanover Farm (THANK YOU!!!). Linda brought the weed tea that Els had brewed for the garden--we will probably use it as a soil drench but did not get around to applying it yet. Gabriela applied more vinegar-based weed killer to the poison ivy at various spots and checked the compost bins. We also took care of some of the containers with failed seedlings: the soil went to the potato pots; Marcelo and Gabriela cut the cardboard containers (along with a wet corrugated cardboard box) and added to the pile of "browns" for composting.

Ben stakes a beautiful volunteer tomato
Blanca and the first beet of the season!
Mark and Akiko brought seedlings donated by Hilltop Hanover--THANK YOU ALL!!!
The "beet" goes on!
Susan tending to her bountiful herbs.
Gabriela adds soil to the potato containers.

 - Gabriela.



Sunday, July 2, 2017

July 1st at the Kitchen Garden

It was a busy morning, and almost everybody came to the garden this Saturday.

We were all excited about the newly installed drip irrigation system and faucet inside the garden! It looks great and very neat. Now the garden will be watered overnight. We still need to keep an eye to check whether the schedule might have to be adjusted.

In addition to the usual weeding, harvesting and compost management, Susan also brought some flowers and purple basil for the outside of the fence on Oak St. The other big thing this week was that Iris got some asparagus crowns. We made room at the back of the garden and planted two rows. While we are not sure when the plants will emerge, this is a great addition because asparagus are perennial and should keep producing for several years (spears are harvested in early spring).

Els had volunteered to prepare a foliar spray (fermented wild weeds tea) according to a recipe Doug DeCandia had shared in his class. The brew is now ready and Els will bring it to the garden next week. Thank you Els!!

Susan planting herbs and flowers outside the fence.

Our newest gardeners, Ben and Carolyn, check on their plot.
Marcelo mixing the curing compost pile.
Linda M. and Els tending to their plot.
Blanca and Laura weed the area where we'll plant the asparagus.
Solange waters the potatoes.
Iris taking down the peas.
Gabriela cutting some chickory.



Compost update - July 1st.

More people are composting with Roots & Wings, which is great but comes with some challenges! Browns (i.e., carbon-rich materials) are consumed much faster than before, and bins are filling up faster than the older compost is mature enough to be used.

We are considering a few options to sustainably deal with these issues, which will likely require more help and participation from all composters and some creative ideas. We may have a brainstorming session soon but your ideas are certainly welcome at any point!

The most urgent issue is to restock on browns sooner rather than later. If any of you has more dry leaves that you could bring and drop off in the rightmost bin, please do so at your earliest convenience so we can avoid completely running out of browns like last time. If you have other source of browns (e.g., sawdust, please let me know--if we are to use any woody materials we need to make sure they are untreated).



Between June 17 and June 22, Marcelo moved the middle pile (maturing compost) inside the garden into a hole he dug into our "bad soil" pile. We hope the compost will finish curing here and some of it will help improve the quality of the soil for future use. He also moved the left pile into the middle bin, making room for new scraps.

Kitchen Garden update - June 24

There was a lot of activity at the garden; Blanca, Els, Solange, Mark P., Laura, Susan, Linda H., and Marcelo were in attendance. Activities included planting new vegetables, weeding, adding soil to the potatoes, turning the compost, cleaning the area behind the fence and drip irrigation planning.

One of the big topics of the day was getting ready for the installation of the drip irrigation system. A contractor (5 Brothers) will be doing the work on Wednesday and we need to figure out where to locate the spigot. The gardeners met with Dave Person (who has been helping us figure out the technical details and coordinate with the church) and showed him two different spots we thought would be good for the faucet. We market both spots with sticks and thought 5 Bros. could pick the one they thought would be better for running the irrigation system.  Susan and Solange will be at the garden on Wednesday at about 9:30 to go over some of the details.

Marcelo also gave Molly, from the food pantry, 8 heads of lettuce that were ready for harvest.
- Marcelo

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

the spirit of a CSA


If you ever practiced yoga, chess, dance, or any other discipline, you may have noticed that, no matter how advanced you may be in your practice, it's always good to go back to basics once in a while. In the same vein, we thought it was timely to reflect on what Community-Supported Agriculture really means.

When you join a CSA share, you are partnering with a trusted farmer so you can share the harvest. But also, and perhaps more importantly, you are sharing the inherent risks of farming. In a good season, it's all unicorns and rainbows, and you'll get a bounty of super fresh, local produce, picked at the height of ripeness and goodness. But sometimes, the weather does not cooperate and yields (sometimes entire crops) may fail.

To say that we had a very cold and damp spring is to state the obvious. Some brief warm spells followed by cold temperatures made things worse. The weather only began to warm up quite recently, which means this growing season got to a really late and unfavorable start. And this was felt even more upstate where the growing season is shorter. Of course that translates to a less abundant start than usual.

As we cope with a bumpy start, let's remember that the spirit of a CSA is that we are in this together, in good and bad times. Our commitment to a CSA makes it possible for good quality agriculture to happen close to our communities. When we join a CSA we are doing so much more than paying to buy produce! We are supporting local connections and livelihoods, we can establish a personal relationship with the people growing our food, understand what goes on behind the scenes, and have our voices heard. The industrial food supply chain may look more steady on the surface, but is driven by pure economic profit at any cost, with little or no regard for the health and livelihood of farmers, the nutrition or safety of consumers, or the health of the environment. The CSA model is in line with Roots & Wings inspiration in the permaculture ethics of "earth care, people care, and fair share". 

Here's to hoping for more favorable weather for the rest of the season! Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, insights, or anything you'd like to share. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Kitchen Garden update - June 17

It was a nice day to be at the garden - cool and still moist from the rain. Gabriela, Marcelo, Blanca, Laura and Carolyn came to the garden.

First, some introductions! We're very excited to welcome two new gardeners to the group: Carolyn and Ben will be joining us this season at the garden! Unfortunately today we missed our photographer Iris and none of us thought of taking pictures until it was too late. We'll try to remember to take some pics next Saturday!

Today we worked on, and harvested from, individual plots. We also removed some weeds from the front of the garden, planted some bush beans and more tomatoes, and harvested a few strawberries.

Gabriela managed the active compost pile while Marcelo implemented a new idea. We are filling up the active bin but the compost in the middle bin is not finished yet, so Marcelo dug a whole in our "bad soil" pile and transferred a good amount of compost into it so it can continue to mature there. He then mixed some of the soon to be finished compost with soil and we added the mixture to the potato bins, which are growing nicely.

Good bug or bad bug?

Insect report:
On Tuesday I stopped briefly at the garden and saw a baby praying mantis in the middle compost bin (for a picture, see our compost update). I also spotted another bug in that area, and a third one wrapped in an arugula leaf. If you know what these are, please let me know!

Who's this guy?

For now, the watering schedule is as follows, although we hope to have the irrigation system installed soon!
Sunday: Linda H
Monday: Marcelo
Tuesday: Gabriela
Wednesday: Susan
Thursday: Laura
Friday: Solange

See you next week!
-Gabriela

Compost Update - June 17

Things are looking pretty good at the compost bins! The temperature today in the active pile was around 120°F, with some hotter areas! I gave the pile a good mix, removed some stickers and covered with more browns.

Reminder of the week: PLEASE REMOVE ALL STICKERS! Double-check your scraps before/while you're depositing them, remove any remaining stickers and place in the trash bin to your left. These stickers keep popping up wherever you look and will never degrade because they're made of plastic. Please redouble your efforts to avoid this nuisance!

The active bin is filling up quickly but the compost in the middle bin is not finished yet, so Marcelo dug a whole in our "bad soil" pile and transferred a good amount of compost into it so it can continue to mature there. He then mixed some of the soon to be finished compost with soil and we added the mixture to the potato bins, which are growing nicely. (Fore more on what's going on at the Kitchen Garden, see our blog).

Compost visitor
Earlier this week I made a quick visit to the compost bin and spotted a baby praying mantis in the middle bin. These are considered beneficial insects because they prey on other insects, but apparently some of the most abundant species in our area are non-native and quite voracious, eating both good and bad bugs. Let's hope this is one of the good ones!

- Gabriela.

June 10th at the Kitchen Garden

Another day with full attendance at the Kitchen Garden! Els, Linda M, Linda H, Iris, Mark, Marcelo, Solange, Susan, Laura, Blanca and Gabriela were there.

The day started with an iced herbal tea tasting that Gabriela made mostly with herbs from the garden. Then we dived into action! In addition to tending individual plots there was some weeding, installation of tomato cages, planting of new seedlings (including some that Els and Linda M went to purchase from Sprain Brook nursery), compost management, leveling of paths between beds and a heroic removal of a dangling branch from the pine tree by Mark P (unfortunately we could not capture the colorful operation in pictures!)

Here are some pics from the day by Iris
Potato bins are now close to the pussy willow. Please remember to water them!
 
Solange installing tomato cages

Tending to one of the newly relocated plots
Iris proudly showcasing her peas
Solange and Susan exchanging ideas.