Friday, June 25, 2010

This Week at Fodor Farm

I wanted to start this letter off with a huge Thank You to two people who have helped the farm out recently: Jane Minnis and Frank Rubino. Jane conceived of the idea to have a seed exchange, and from its inception on through to the day, did all of the work in getting the seeds to give out to the farmers. Frank has been working hard to find us speakers, and was able to arrange two wonderful speakers, Nick Mancini and Becky Newman, to come and talk to us last weekend. Frank is looking to arrange more speakers over the course of the summer, so please keep an eye out for future speaker announcements. Thank you Frank and Jane!

One of the things our Organic Gardening speaker talked about was the importance of "housekeeping". To that end, I'd like to give this reminder to everyone out there - stay on top of your gardens as much as possible. We're seeing plots in need of weeding, and the beetles are starting to have their way with plants. Here are some steps every farmer should take during the course of the week to maintain their plot and help the overall health of the garden:

  • Weed, weed, weed. Weeds compete with your crops for nutrients and sunlight. They're also a safe haven for pests and disease. Pull them out when they're small, stay on top of your plot, and weeding is an easy, two minute task.
  • Remove all dead, dying, and diseased foliage. Dead and dying leaves are magnets for disease and rot. Diseased foliage is a foothold in the garden from which disease can spread. Remember, if you're cutting your plants, sterilize you scissors/pruners between cuts with rubbing or isopropyl alcohol.
  • Keep bugs under control. We're seeing an increase in bean and squash beetles. These bugs breed quickly, so it's absolutely necessary that we all get out there and start killing them. Please do your part, and keep them in check in your plot. You'll be helping yourself, and you'll be helping your neighbors.
The contract which we all signed when we received our plot(s) stipulated that we spend five hours per week working on our garden. We all have busy lives, and there are weeks where we won't be able to put in this amount of time. But the steps above, when you're in the habit of them, won't take five hours a week, and your garden will thank you.

Another thing Nick mentioned was watering. Gardens only need one inch of water per week to do well. Here's how to water:

  • When watering, water slow and deep. Don't do a quick sprinkle of water here and there, take a few minutes and give the garden a good, long drink. Shallow watering encourages shallow roots. Shallow roots dry out more quickly and aren't as healthy.
  • Water from below, not above. Go low, and water closed to the ground, not from above. This helps the leaves to stay dry, and discourages diseases such as blight.
  • Don't over-water. You can actually drown your plants, as roots need oxygen. Know the water needs of the plants that you're growing.
  • Be a good neighbor. If you use a hose, put it back coiled and neat.
While we're not in a water-restricted area, water is a finite resource for everyone. Let's all make sure to water smart. If it rained the day before, think before you water. How much rain fell? How does your soil feel? There have been gardeners out there watering after a good rain, which isn't good for the plants, and isn't good for the planet. (This rule goes for your home, too, folks! Smart watering is good watering.)

Deadline alert! If you have anything planted along the fence, you have until June 27th to get it moved. After that, it's fair game for the city's weed whackers.

Thank you, and we'll see you at the farm!

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