Thursday, June 30, 2022

June/July 2022

Meet Our New Prez!

This newsletter’s featured WCG Board member is our new President, Jessica Stephens!  Jessica has been part of WCG since 2017 and is excited to oversee the further development of our organization.  An avid gardener since childhood, Jessica loves growing tomatoes in her CG plots on the far side of the garden (with the giant bamboo poles!).  Gardening became a passion while in graduate school and continues to provide a beloved change of pace from her day job as a Classical Studies professor at William & Mary.  Each year, Jessica starts hundreds of seedlings in her spare bedroom (much to the horror of her significant other)- this year,  she started experimenting with growing herbaceous perennials from seed and has planted a few in her plots.  If you see Jessica around the garden, say hi!  She loves meeting fellow gardeners and is always on the lookout for folks interested in becoming more involved in WCG.  You can always reach out to her at

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:

July 16

August 6

September 3

October 1

These hours will count towards your required 6 hours of volunteer time. There will soon be a white board under the shade structure that will also list jobs for the CG or the Teaching Farm that can be done outside the work party hours. You may also volunteer on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings with the Farm, if you wish. See you on Saturday the 9th!


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.

Tomato disease 

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!

Sunday, May 29, 2022

May 2022

Letter from the Editor - The gardens look so wonderful this time of year. With all the rain, everything is lush and green. You all have been taking such good care of your plots, fertilizing and weeding, and it is a pleasure to come out to the Garden. I know this can’t last, as the heat will come, and the diseases and insects. But you guys are doing a great job so far this season! And it is nice to see you introducing yourselves to your neighbors and growing the Community. That’s what makes our Garden a special place.

Plant Sale Successful - Despite the weather!

We dodged the raindrops on Saturday, May 7 and were glad we set up. We had many customers, including Community Gardeners and we sold enough plants to add a little to our coffers. Many thanks to Jessica Stephens, our President-elect,who did most of the heavy lifting, ordering seeds and material, starting seeds in her spare bedroom and transplanting and growing them on. Thanks also to CG’er Randi Helpinstill who graciously took home 9 flats to care for and donated some of her own plant babies. And to the volunteers who helped with the transplanting and the sales events. We are now arranging to give the leftover plants to our food pantry partners to share with their clients. Next year we are considering offering a pre-sale event just for the Community Gardeners!

***Please return our 3” pots to us for use again next year. You may leave them at the greenhouse or under the shade structure. Mother Earth thanks you!***

Word of the Month: Plant, plant, plant!! Get it in the ground! Yahoo! (And mulch!)

Note on Hardwood Fines Mulch: This mulch is not well-composted and as such, it will draw nitrogen from your soil as it breaks down. While it is great to use for the foot paths in your plots, if you are using this mulch on your vegetables, you may want to consider adding some nitrogen to compensate. Alfalfa pellets and milorganite are two organic amendments that are high in nitrogen. 

You are also welcome to bring in the leaves from the field beyond the fence to use as mulch. Or you can bring in straw or pine needles. Placing newspapers down directly on the soil before mulching can improve the mulch’s ability to prevent weeds from coming back and it decomposes quickly and adds to the soil. Weeding is no one’s favorite activity and covering the soil will keep the weeds down while it holds the moisture in the soil.

Compost Bins:  As you all know, the first bin on the left in our composting area is for “trash”, that is, compostable material that may be too woody, may have produced seeds, or is diseased and should not be put in the working compost that will be returned to the garden. Bin #1, the second bin from the left, is for green and brown material that will compost well. Please feel free to fill that bin up with appropriate material that we will be able to use, rather than just dumping everything into the trash bin. Thank you.

Questions Answered - Virginia Tech is our land-grant college that carries out research on horticultural topics. Their Extension service is charged with passing that information to the public. You may access all their publications at their website There is a very useful search box to enter your topic. Also the 2022 Pest Management Guide for Home Grounds and Animals is very helpful. You can find that at

You are guaranteed that the information provided is research-based and unbiased. They offer organic and inorganic solutions, so for our garden you will need to be careful to use only the organic recommendations.

Insect Alert!

Two years ago we had a severe infestation of the Colorado Potato Beetle. We are now seeing the beginnings of them coming back hard again. Here is a reprint of last year's article on control for this pest.  

Recently we are starting to see the emergence of the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB) in the garden. This pest was very annoying 2 years ago and was present last year but not to such an extent. As the name implies, these pests' favorite host will be potato plants. However, they can also attack other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae), including eggplant, tomato, pepper, nightshade, and ground cherry.

Adults overwinter four to 12 inch deep in the ground of harvested potato fields and emerge in spring around May. Adults do not migrate but will fly for several miles to find their Solanaceous hosts. Adults then mate and lay eggs on the host plants. Egg laying may last as long as a month and may be as many as 500 eggs on a single plant. After four to 10 days, depending on temperature, eggs hatch.

CPB undergo complete metamorphosis: adult, egg, larva, and pupa.

Adults are hard-shelled with a round, convex shape. Their forewings are yellow with a total of 10 black stripes running longitudinally. They are about a half an inch long. Adults eat foliage until they pupate.

Eggs are oval, yellow to bright orange. They are laid in clusters of 10 to 30 eggs on the underside of leaves.


Larvae are slug-like with a soft shell. They are red to orange to tan depending on age and they have two rows of black dots on each side. The body which is humped enlarges with time and grows in four size stages. Larvae eat foliage as they grow and this is the most destructive stage. These larvae can decimate a plant if not controlled 


Pupae are small and are found in the soil .


The best organic method for controlling the CPB is to hand pick and squoosh the rascals. It is usually preferred to wear gloves when doing this. It is also effective to drop them into a cup of soapy water. The smaller larvae are easy to squoosh in large quantities when they first emerge and are close together on the leaves. Also important is getting rid of any eggs in the same manner. As with the harlequin bug, breaking the reproductive cycle early in the season will yield huge results longer term. 

CPB are essentially resistant to all synthetic pesticides. 

Neem oil is effective for a few days and probably will require repeat applications. Neem is less effective on the larger larvae and the adults. 

Spinosad, made from soil bacterium, is effective for about 10-14 days. 

If you have insecticidal soap or insecticidal soap plus pyrethrins, this mixture may offer some effectiveness as well, especially on the larvae.

Would you buy a radish from these guys?

Executive Director Charlie Morse and photographer and CG’er Elvin Clapp

Caption Contest! 

Send in your best caption for the photo below of Charlie Morse, Elvin Clapp, and Community Garden Team member David Sobash. You could win, um, bragging rights. Send to

Sunday, April 3, 2022

April 2022


We're looking for an Assistant Farm Manager (AFM) to help with our teaching farm, maintain our site, and assist our Farm Manager, Mackenzie. The AFM will work up to 15 hours per week at a pay rate of $20 per hour starting in April and running until November, with a possible extension depending on funding.   

Interested candidates should contact Jessica ( or Charlie (


Accessible plot available

While all regular plots at the Garden are now filled for the 2022 growing season, there is still one small plot available for someone who may have mobility issues. This plot is the result of a grant to provide accessible gardening space and it is located near the rear gate. The dues are $35 for the season. If you know someone who loves to garden but needs a little support, please have them contact me, Barbara Arnold, at


Welcome New and Returning Gardeners and Volunteers!

2022 marks the beginning of our seventh year of gardening and farming on this site. It seems like only yesterday when six gardeners (most of whom are still here!) started amending the soil in preparation for growing. One of those gardeners, Bill Wallace, has taken soil amending to new heights, using Starbucks coffee grounds, shredded newspaper and who knows what else to grow some of the largest and sweetest veggies in James City County. New folks should visit his garden– easy to find, just look for the sign: “Bill’s Garden.” Barbara Arnold has pointed out a number of improvements we have made over the last year below. Two major improvements, our Partners Path and new fence, were made possible by support from Williamsburg Community Foundation and the Williamsburg Health Foundation.. When you have a chance take a stroll on the path to “Robert’s Bog” and enjoy our new patio– shading to come! And of course the funding would not have happened without the efforts of our Board President, Pam Dannon and our President-Elect, Jessica Stephens. 

Our Teaching Farm has also come a long way in six years. The row crops within our fenced area and beyond are maintained by volunteers, coordinated by Liz Callan, and supervised by our Farm Manager Mackenzie Perkins. This area allows beginning gardeners to learn from experts and provides fresh produce for our farm stand and CSA subscription service. In addition fully half of the produce is donated to local food pantries and other local organizations. In six years we have grown nearly 10 tons of produce, and in 2021 volunteers– including high schoolers, college students, and other community members– logged more than 6,500 hours learning on the teaching farm. 
Watch for this online newsletter monthly. There are articles about pest and disease issues, tips from our own gardeners, and updates on site improvements. Many thanks to Barbara for keeping it going!
See you in the Garden!
Charlie Morse
Executive Director

Baby blanket made for Laurie Wehle (l) by June Skalak (r) from a picture of one of Laurie’s cabbages.

Cold-weather plant sale.

We were finally able to hold our plant sale on March 19 after a weather delay. Most all of the plants were sold and many made their way across the street and into our CG’ers gardens. Thank you for your support. Hope you enjoy the broccoli, etc.

This is where all the plants get ready for your plot-- the WCG Greenhouse!

Warm-weather plant sale.

Wonderful tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are growing in some of our basements to be ready for sale on Saturday, May 7, Mother’s Day weekend. See below for a listing of what varieties will be available.  

State of the Garden

You will have noticed some recent improvements to the Community Garden over the winter.

  • The last 2 sides of the permanent fence have been completed. The new wood will have to cure before it can be painted. Plans are underway to secure the base of the fence with hardware cloth sunken below ground level to protect against inquisitive critters.

  • With the moving of the fence line, we have added 7 new 10 X 10 plots. The Garden is now at capacity with a total of 35 new gardeners for 2022. We have a total of 84 plots of various sizes and more than 100 gardeners in our community.

  • The Partners Path and a brick patio have been constructed to allow visitors to stroll through and enjoy our rain garden and water feature. Also along the path are planting boxes that have been constructed by Eagle Scout candidate Gracen Nelson and will house an herb collection. Flowers will be planted along the path near the front entrance and the back gate.

  • We have received a huge load of horse manure from a board member. It has been deposited in the field beyond the porta potty to compost before we can bring it into the garden. We received a 10-yard delivery of compost from the county (it is almost gone!) and it is unclear whether we will be able to get more from them. They also gave us 40 yards of fine hardwood mulch. Once again, we have been fortunate enough to have raw wood chips available from a local arborist.

  • Reminder, please do not plant mint in the Garden. It is incredibly invasive

Spring Report from Farm Manager, Mackenzie Perkins


Hey there community gardeners! I'm excited to share with you all the new things that are happening on the farm! We've extended the deer fencing in the far field and added a ton of new beds to grow vegetables for donation, our subscription service (CSA), and farm stand. Final count to be determined but it's looking like 15-20 new beds in all. The plan is to use that extra space to increase quantity of all the crops, incorporate more succession planting into the farm schedule and give more space to winter squashes, watermelons and cantaloupe. New crops this year (some in small quantities, more of trial run) include fava beans, Lima beans, black eyed peas, snow peas, snap peas, peanuts, and celery. 


We have a spring CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription service this year, running from April 16th - June 18th. Ten weeks of fresh veggies picked up by subscribers every Saturday for $250 and and we still have a few spaces available if anyone is interested in participating. It's a very early start to the season, which is definitely a challenge, but we have lots of fresh salad greens already planted and putting on size, some overwintered greens, flats and flats of seedlings were planted last week with many more going in this week, and direct seeded beets and peas have sprouted, just waiting on the carrots to sprout. So greens will be featured heavily in the beginning and transition to root crops and legumes and just a long list of cooked greens and Asian greens and cabbages and broccoli to follow. We'll have a fall CSA as well, dates to be decided. 


The farm stand is slated to open April 16th!


We'll have three paid interns this summer and will be accepting applications soon from junior and senior high school students, so if you know any likely candidates please send them our way. Interns will work 10 hours a week and split their time between general farm work and a project of their choosing funded by the Farm to School grant we received last year through the USDA. 


We have a walk-in cooler in the works! All credit to Charlie with lots of help from David Sobash, Brock Reggi and Robert Reining. The structure itself is complete and Charlie is currently working to upgrade our solar power to keep it cool. It's very exciting and will be so helpful to keeping produce fresh for delivery to our donation partners. We'll be continuing donations to Grove Christian Family Outreach, St. Olaf's Food Pantry, and we're adding a partnership with Olde Town Medical Center. We'll also be donating to Warhill, Lafayette, and Jamestown High Schools. 


We have had A LOT of volunteer involvement lately to our regularly scheduled volunteer days and have large groups scheduling visits as well. We have a small group from William and Mary that comes every week and we've had boy scouts, girl scouts and church groups visiting recently as well. And thanks to Eagle Scout Candidate Denis Fulks and friends we now have a new shed for storing materials for the farm. Many hands make light work! I'm very much looking forward to spring and I'm sure you all are too!



Denis Fulks (left), Eagle Scout candidate and helper Luke Bascom


What to plant now?


Reminder that we are considered Zone 7b and our last spring frost usually occurs between April 5 and April 15. This is not a guarantee, however, and last year we had a killing frost in May. Remember that our micro-climate is considerably colder than many areas nearby thanks to our winds. 


There is an excellent guide for when to plant in our area from the Virginia Tech extension and it can be found here:


Between now and April 5 here is what is “safe” to plant:


                    As seeds: beets, carrots, peas, potatoes, radish, turnips

As transplants: kohlrabi, mustard, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks         As seeds or transplants: swiss chard, kale, collards, onions, spinach, lettuce




Wednesday, January 19, 2022

January 2022

Missing the Garden?

As the Garden sleeps, the WCG staff is still at work (maybe not so hard) looking forward to the 2022 season. The Contract for this year is ready to be published, once it has Board approval, and will be sent to your email this month. 

Changes to the Contract from last year include:

Dues will be raised $5, to $35 for a 10 X 10 plot and $50 for a 10 X 20, for the season.

Required volunteer hours for Gardeners have increased from 4 to 6 hours for the season.

Gardeners must return their signed contract by  February 15 with dues. An orientation meeting will be announced at which dues may be dropped off in person. There are currently 24 people on the waiting list, so if you know you will not be returning, please let me know as soon as possible so I can try to accommodate as many on the list as possible.

The Garden will officially open on March 5, which will also be the date for our cold-season plant sale. We hope our Gardeners will buy veggie plants from us to support the Garden and the Farm. The warm-season sale will be held May 6. A list of the plants that we will be growing can be accessed at the link below, so you won’t have to order seeds for the plants that we will have available. 

Plant Sale Plant Descriptions

So looking forward to seeing all of you once the weather warms!

Barbara Arnold

Community Garden Coordinator

Name Our Hawk contest winner!

Congratulations to Kay Clapp for submitting the winning name for the red-tailed hawk that has adopted our garden. The name chosen by the WCG Board from all submissions is Skylar! Kay, your prize is eternal bragging rights!

Seed catalogs 2022

Chances are, if you are in any way connected to gardening, you will have begun to receive seed and plant catalogs in the mail by now. What can be more comforting on a cold, dark winter day in the throes of a pandemic than to curl up in a chair with a hot beverage and dream about the lovely, delicious vegetable plants you will grow this year? And flowers!! The pictures in the catalogs are so beautiful and you find you want ALL of them!

Why order from seed catalogs? Aren’t there plenty of seeds to buy in the garden stores? And lots of plants already growing that can be just plunked into the ground? But sometimes you may want a specific type of plant that you know to have been successful in your garden before and the only reliable way to assure you can get that plant is to grow it yourself from seed. And the seeds offered at the big box stores and even at nurseries, cannot have the variety that is available from all these seed catalogs.

Also, seed catalogs have great pictures and descriptions of the plants and instructions about their cultivation.

Here are some commentary from Community Gardeners about their favorite seed catalogs:

Jessica Stephens, Vice President of WCG:

My favorite seed catalog is from Baker Creek (  They do two catalogs per year- one's free, the other is $10 because it is over 500 pages!!!  I love the large catalog because this seed company seeks out seeds from all over the world and has introduced me to new varieties that I'd never dreamed of- I can find seeds from similar climates to ours and try them here. Their seeds always germinate for me and the prices are good.  I've had great success with chinese radishes, japanese mizuna, and will be trying asian cucumbers this summer. 

Sally Hewitt, Community Gardener:

If you are like many of us that experienced problems with Early Blight on your tomatoes last year, seed catalogs offer quite a few hybrids that are disease resistant as well as some that are bred to produce well in hot and humid conditions like ours. For example:

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange 

Druzba- sweet and juicy slicer 

Eva Purple Ball-purple excellent flavor 

Geranium Kiss- dwarf container 

West Va. 63- red excellent flavor 

Yellow Centiflor- gold cherry, a cross of Sun Gold and Red Centiflor 

Totally Tomatoes 

Regal-high yield slicer with old fashioned flavor 

Galahad Hyb- large and tasty, good fresh, canned or sauced 

Seeds ‘N Such

Regal Plum- meaty red and flavorful 

Defiant- real tomato flavor and high yielding with early blight resistance VFFEbLb

Heatmaster Hyb-deep red flavorful and sets fruits into the mid 90’s 

Arkansas Traveler- reddish pink high quality fruit, setting fruit in hot humid days

Carol Fryer Community Gardener, Master Gardener: 

My favorite seed companies : 

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds,  www.seeds.comThey have the most luscious photos and in-depth information about their vegetables. .

 Johnny Seeds , is popular; they have good photos for their vegetables, but not as much information about each variety. 

 Both companies have a good reputation and good quality seeds. 


Randi Helpinstill, Community Gardener:

I pour over a few seed catalogs but my go to ones are Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for veggies and The Gardeners Workshop  for flowers. For me, both give the “Goldilocks”-just right- amount of advice on all the seeds they carry, including germination, planting, and harvest tips.  Both are established VA companies who continuously update their catalog offerings with honed expertise suited to our growing conditions.  I trust their seeds and their customer service earns high marks!

Below are some other catalogs  with contact information with editorial comments

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Mineral, VA Local company, employee owned, most likely to have varieties suitable for our conditions.( Mostly heirlooms vs. hybrids. Tom. packet , 40 seeds- $2.75)

Jung Randolph, WI Good selection, good quality seed. Lots of garden supplies offered.( Hybrid tom. seed packet , 30 seeds - $4.15)Offer plants and grafted plants ($10.95)

Johnny’s Selected Seeds Winslow, ME Good quality product, higher prices,(hybrid tom. seed packet - $4.95)

Totally Tomato Randolph WI Large selection of tomato seeds, some other veggies also.( Hybrid tom packet, 15 seeds - $4.25)Offer plants and grafted plants ($10.95) 

Burpee Warminster, PA The big daddy of catalogs. Beautiful pictures, lots of variety. Lots of supplies.Expensive. (hyb. Tom. packet, 30 seeds, $5.95) Plants, but no grafted plants.

Seed Savers exchange Decorah IA Not for profit preserving heirloom varieties. Really nice catalog. Lots of information.

PineTree Garden Seeds - -New Gloucester ME Not a flashy catalog, but lot’s of variety. (Hybrid - 15 seeds - $2.25) Offer soap making supplies, teas, books, mushrooms.

Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds - -  Mansfield, MO Reviewed above (heirloom tom. - 25 seeds, $3.75)

Territorial - - Cottage Grove, OR Large catalog with tons of gardening information. Really informative. Lots of supplies. (heirloom tom. -⅛ gram - $4.95 - 40 seeds?) plants and grafted plants - $9.95 - double grafted - $16.25

Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Greendale IN Known initially as a fruit tree supplier, has developed a number of their own varieties of vegetables. (hyb. Tom. - 30 seeds - $5.99) plants available.


By Marty Mathes

The first record of wild peas was at least 23,000 years ago while the domestication was noted about 11,000 years ago.  Currently, these developments have resulted in cultivation of an excess of 5 million acres of peas.    The current vast array of varieties is well over 1000.

Your recent cascade of seed catalogs indicates that it is time to plan your early spring and summer garden planting.  You can start with crops which will survive "spring" frosts. My favorite is sugar snap peas.  In general, these peas can be planted around the first of March.  They are hardy, vigorous, high yielding and gastronomically versatile . These peas are usually trellised. The trellis can be used for later crops, such as cucumbers, etc., since the peas mature early.

Snap peas, also called sugar snap, are the result of a cross between snow peas and green peas  This hybrid was introduced in the 1970's.  It is characterized by a crunchy, sweet pod which does not require shelling.  In France these peas are referred to as Mange tout, meaning “eat it all”.

Peas are a good source of vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates. They also fix nitrogen in nodules in the soil with associated bacterial benefits. Sugar snap peas may be eaten raw or cooked. You can find 21 cooking recipes at  

The Vermont Bean Seed Company Randolph, WI offers these varieties:

 "Mammoth Melting Sugar.  75 days.  Vining.  Snow Pea.  Heirloom variety with a distinctive, meltingly sweet taste.  Hardy vigorous plants grow over 5' feet tall and require support.  Begins bearing early about 63 days after planting. and the more you pick, the more it produces.  Thick stringless, flat pods are 4-5' long.  Ideal for kitchen gardens."

" Super Sugar Snap.  70 day.  Snap Pea.  Versatile snap pea- eat them at any stage.  Sweet, crisp, tender, juicy pods are delicious whole, or shell them and use like regular garden peas. Productive, 5" tall plants display incredible cold tolerance (down to 20 degrees F.) as well as heat tolerance.  Resistant to powdery mildew.”

I hope to see you on March 1 in your potential pea patch.  To pea or not to pea.

Key to disease resistance/Tolerance in tomatoes.

If you have wondered what the alphabet soup of letters on plant labels or seed descriptions means, here is a key to help you. Simply find the letter that matches the disease that you are trying to avoid and look for that letter on your plants or seeds. Planting resistant varieties of vegetables is one good way to break the “susceptible host” side of the disease triangle. (See the October, 2021 issue of What’s Growin’ On)

HR  = High resistance

IR = Intermediate resistance   

AB -    Early (Alternaria) Blight

B -        Bacterial Wilt

Eb -     Early blight

F -    Fusarium Wilt

FF -    Fusarium Wilt Races 1.2

FOR -    Fusarium Crown and Root Rot

L -    Gray Leaf Spot

Lb-    Late Blight

LM -     Leaf Mold

N -     Roundworm/Nematode

PM -     Powdery Mildew

RK -     Root Knot

TMV -     Tobacco Mosaic Virus

ToANV -    Tomato Apex Necrotic Virus

ToMV -    Tomato Mosaic Virus

TSWV -     Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

TYLCV -     Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus

V -    Verticillium Wilt

Learn more about Organic Pest Prevention

Community Gardener Kay Clapp sent in the following information a class you may be interested in taking:

Elvin and I took a zoom class presented by MG of Northern VA last week and it should be available shortly on their website.

Pest and Disease in the Garden: Organic Prevention with Kristen Conrad as the presenter.  There were excellent suggestions as we think about planning our gardens in the next growing season, photos of both pests and diseases we fight, and solutions for them.  (They talk about 20% and 40% vinegar use and explain that household vinegar (5%) won't do the trick.)

Monday, October 25, 2021

October 2021


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?


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!"

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