Fall is finally here at the Garden. The weather has been cooler and we have had some nice rains. Many of you have planted fall crops, like broccoli, chard, and kale with hopes of harvesting through the fall and winter.
The Official close of the garden will be Saturday, November 6, which is also the date of our last Work Party from 9-11. After this date, water will be cut off at some point as the temperatures drop and we are no longer able to refill our cisterns. But Gardeners will still be able to work their plots, if interested.
Community Gardeners who will not be gardening over the winter are asked to please have their plots cleaned up by November 6. You are asked to dispose of all weeds and other plant material, being especially cognizant of removing any diseased debris and placing it into the correct bin in the compost area. Please disassemble and consolidate your structures as much as possible, being careful not to create habitat for pests. Once the new “crop” of fall leaves begins arriving, you will want to consider covering your soil with this wonderful mulch, which can then be turned in to help amend the soil in the spring.
Hope to see many of you at the Garden for the final clean-up on November 6.
Our Garden Mascot
We have a Mascot who has taken up residence near our Garden! He/she is a magnificent hawk, though the exact species is still under discussion. Check out the beautiful pictures, provided by CG’er Elvin Clapp, including one with the hawk snacking on a nasty old grasshopper!
Can anyone come up with a good name?
TO BEE OR NOT TO BE
By Martin Mathes Professor emeritus, Department of Biology College of William and Mary
All higher plants require a means of pollen transfer (pollination) to ensure the production of seed for a future generation. Pollen transfer methods include, most importantly, insects. Of the insects, bees are by far the most important. Many crops are dependent on the presence of a significant population of bees to complete the formation of seeds and fruits.
As a result of decreased bees (native and introduced) in the environment, many crops require mobile hives to be placed in the fields and orchards to ensure maximum yield. Decreased pollination is a critical environmental factor which must be addressed
Bee populations have dramatically decreased, from an estimated 10% to as high as 30%. Approximately 10 million hives have been lost during the last decade. Factors associated with bee hive demise include:
Broad spectrum (including bees) insecticide
Colony collapse disorder
Parasites and pathogens including mites
Reduction in the lifespan of the queen.
The maintenance of pollinator insect populations continues to be a serious environmental concern We can do our part to support our local pollinators by providing habitats for beneficial insects. "Bee" houses provide a favorable climate to encourage garden populations. A variety of native bees and wasps will find a suitable home in these artificial houses. A wide variety of abodes are available on-line and a wide array of construction plans are outlined. Specifications include hole size (4 to 10 mm), shading and orientation. Building your bee house would be a great winter time garden family project which could be followed throughout the growing season. We could all make a small contribution to increase the quality of our environment. Albert Einstein predicted - "if the bees disappear, man would have only 4 years to live"
Disease on my plants!
Many of you have been vexed this growing season with diseases on your plants. One way to think about how to better control these diseases is by considering the disease triangle, a model of what diseases need to have in order to survive and thrive on your plants. Below is an article published by the land grant college, Iowa State, that explains the disease triangle clearly. As you read, consider how this could be helpful in controlling diseases in tomatoes.
It takes Three To Make a Plant Sick
The first “side” of the triangle is so obvious it may be overlooked. In order to have a plant disease, you must have a plant. More specifically, you need a susceptible plant, one that is able to get a particular disease. Each plant species is prone to a unique set of maladies. Crabapples and oaks get different diseases. Within a species, plant varieties differ in their susceptibility to various diseases. For example, some crabapple cultivars are decimated by apple scab while others are unaffected. The overall health and vigor of an individual plant also affects its susceptibility to disease.
The second “side” of the Plant Disease Triangle is also simple. Besides a susceptible plant, there must be an organism that can cause disease, or a pathogen. Most plant pathogens are fungi, which can cause leaf spots, root rots, mildews, wilts,and a variety of other symptoms. Besides fungi, bacteria, nematodes (microscopic worms) and viruses are other examples of common plant pathogens.
The third “side” of the triangle is perhaps the least obvious, but it is crucial. The susceptible plant and the pathogen must interact together in a favorable environment in order to result in plant disease. For many fungal diseases, “favorable environment” means warm and wet. But some diseases are favored by cool weather, dry conditions, or a certain soil pH. Each disease is favored by a slightly different combination of humidity, temperature and other environmental factors. Even when a large population of a pathogen is present on a susceptible plant, there will be no disease unless the conditions are just right.
How can we use this knowledge to manage plant problems? Because three things are necessary for plant disease, we can prevent disease in our gardens by altering any one of the three factors.
For example, we can reduce the impact of the host plant by choosing disease-resistant varieties or species that are relatively disease free. Several varieties of lilac are available that are resistant to powdery mildew. Maintaining good plant vigor through proper watering and fertilizing will also make plants less prone to disease.
Alternately, we can attack the pathogen side of the triangle. The pathogen can be reduced by removing debris and weeds where it may survive, rotating crops so that pathogens do not survive year to year on the same crop, or controlling insects that may carry the pathogen. In our lilac example, we could remove diseased debris at the end of the growing season, or use fungicides to reduce the amount of the pathogen on the leaves.
The environment can be managed in many ways to reduce disease. Humidity and leaf wetness are often conducive to disease, and these can be minimized by spacing, staking and pruning plants to promote airflow. We can remove weeds that impede airflow. We can change watering practices, avoiding overhead watering that increases leaf wetness, and watering in the morning rather than the evening so leaves have time to dry out before night. In our lilac example, spacing the bushes to maximize airflow between them and planting them in full sun can help to minimize humidity in the canopy, thereby reducing powdery mildew problems
By understanding that three things are required for plant disease--host plant, pathogen, and favorable environment--we can use a three-pronged approach to manage plant diseases.
Garden Grower-- Rajesh Keloth
Perhaps you have seen some unusual vegetables on the Google Search Page for WCG. (see below) These were proudly uploaded by Rajesh Keloth, one of our Community Gardeners. Rajesh and his wife, Sindhu Kokoth, came to Williamsburg 18 months ago to work in healthcare at Eastern State Hospital. Before that they spent 15 years in the country of Dubai, where Sinddhu worked as a nurse and Rajesh was a fire and safety inspector.
Having settled in Spotswood Commons Rajesh was overjoyed to find that a community garden was nearby where he could grow some of the vegetables that he knew and loved growing up in the State of Kerala, India. Some of these include Indian okra, bitter guard, snake guard, long beans, and malabar spinach. Can you identify them above? If not, Rajesh will happily point them out to you when you see him in the garden! Asked about the many places he has lived Rajesh said, "It feels good to be here!"