Meet Our New Prez!
Interns on the Farm
This summer we are delighted to have Joshua Murray join us courtesy of William and Mary's Community Engagement Program. Josh will be working on the Teaching Farm assisting with all aspects of growing produce for our farm stand and our community partners.
In addition we have a number of high school interns who are participating in our USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The interns will be helping with the farm and working on a special project of their choice. Pictured here are Mia, KK, Cadence and Lula picking blackberries with Josh. Welcome all!
Work Parties Ahead
Community Garden Work Parties for the rest of the season will be held on the 1st Saturday of the month, except when that is a holiday weekend. All will be from 9 - 11AM. Please dress for the weather and bring water to drink. Dates will be:
Community Gardeners are responsible for the paths around their space. Please try to keep control of the weeds in your pathways. Thanks.
New Walk-in, Solar-powered Cooler Helps with Produce for Food Banks
The USDA Farm to School Grant that WCG secured last year has made it possible for us to expand our solar power system and add a vegetable cooler that resides in a shed behind the greenhouse. The cooler is used to keep veggies fresh for our Saturday Farmstand, and weekly deliveries to our partners at Grove Christian Outreach, St. Olaf’s Food Pantry, and Olde Towne Medical Center.
Using a Bluetti AC200Max Power Station and a bank of eight 100 Amphour lead-acid batteries, the 1.2 Kilowatts of photovoltaic cells allows for the production of more than 7 kilowatts of power every sunny day in the summer, more than enough to power the AC unit that cools the approximately 90 cubic feet of space (see photo). Excess power is used to charge up tools and provide power to the greenhouse in spring when new plantings need to be kept warm with heating pads. Thanks to David Sobash and Robert Reining for their help in building, brainstorming, and maintaining this very useful addition to the WCG Teaching Farm.
Blackberries are coming in!
The blackberries that were planted last summer in the patch out the gravel road behind the apiary are finally starting to produce. This week, 11.5 pounds of berries were harvested with a TON still ripening. You will be able to purchase these at the Farm Stand every Saturday until they are done. Volunteers who would like to help pick blackberries, which will need to be done about every other day, should ask Charlie or Liz Callan to see if help is needed that day. Please keep the used containers coming. They are very helpful for packaging the berries.
We have been quite lucky with the weather this season. The usual progression of early blight, that all gardeners have to deal with every year, has had a delayed onset this year, probably due to the weather.
Early blight is the bacterial disease that lives in the soil and starts by infecting the lowest leaves on your plants. If not taken care of, it progresses up the plant and eventually affects all the leaves, the stems, and even the fruit. Looks like this.
What can be done to limit the damage caused by early blight? Remember the disease triangle from the October 2021 newsletter?
First, it is recommended that you buy plants that are resistant to the disease. On the plant label, you would see the designation AB (Early Alternaria Blight) or maybe Eb for Early blight. If you are like me and prefer heirloom tomatoes, these generally do not have resistance. However, if you can also help your plant to be strong and healthy - amended soil, fertilizer, adequate water - you can help it to be able to live through a bout of disease. This is one side of the “disease triangle”, avoiding having a “susceptible host”.
Second, you can take physical steps to eliminate the spread of the spores being produced on the first diseased leaves. Remove all the leaves below the first branch with tomato blossoms. Then, as soon as you see any hint of disease on a leaf, even one spot, strip the leaf off and take it out of the garden (to the “trash” compost bin or the garbage at home). This step aids in eliminating the presence of a pathogen, a second side of the disease triangle.
Third, you can adjust the environment in which your tomato plant is growing to make it less likely for the disease to take hold. Plants will do better if they have adequate air circulation and sun exposure. You can remove inside leaves and try to spread the branches out as much as possible. You can also prune some of the new shoots if your plant is getting too full for its setting. Also, do not water from above, especially late in the day when the water may not have time to evaporate. This will help to create an environment not conducive to the spread of disease.
Finally, there are some organic chemical products that can help to slow the progression of early blight. These fungicides will not stop the disease that has already infected a leaf, but they can offer a preventative on new growth. A copper-based fungicide is an organic option. Many products are available at garden centers. There are also a few bio fungicides on the market now that contain a bacteria that fights against the disease pathogen or, to quote the USEPA:
“ The QST 713 strain of B. subtilis is known to be antagonistic toward many fungal plant pathogens. This antagonism may be achieved in several ways including nutrient competition, site exclusion, colonization, and attachment of the bacteria to the fungal pathogen. In addition, AgraQuest reports that the QST 713 strain of B. subtilis has been shown to induce plants' natural systemic resistance or systemic acquired resistance (SAR) against bacterial pathogens. These bacteria can stop plant pathogen spores from germinating, disrupt germ tube growth, and inhibit attachment of the plant pathogen to the leaf. “ This quote applies to the product “Cease”.
“Cease” is sold in large quantities for use in agriculture but can be purchased online. We are currently using this fungicide in the Teaching Farm. Another bio fungicide is Renewal, by Bonide, that has a different Bacillus but is used in the same way.Bio fungicides can be used as a foliar spray or as a drench of the roots. Some sources suggest rotating the use of different fungicides to avoid building up fungicide resistance in your garden.
This is not a recommendation of any commercial product. Do your research and read the product label before using any garden products.
Views of the Garden in June
A bird's-eye view:
The new gardens by the fence are looking great!
Onions drying in the sun.
And here come the tomatoes!