Monday, October 25, 2021

Ocrober 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!"

Thursday, September 23, 2021

September 2021

Almost Fall in the Garden. The tomatoes are pretty much done, but still harvesting peppers and the broccoli is getting ready to head up. This is a great time to tidy-up your beds and get the soil protected with newspaper or cardboard and mulch for the winter months. This will keep weeds down and keep your soil from eroding. 

Thanks so much to all of you who have been working hard to cut back the tall weeds to help with our rodent issues. Please read below for new developments on that front.

Above photos courtesy of Elvin and Kay Clapp

Thank you also to the volunteers who came out for the September Work Party: Melissa Shaffer, Todd Lee Goen, Kristin Froehlich, and Will McElfresh. Would love to get a few more volunteers out for the October Party on October 2. Hope to see you there.


Thanks to all of your contributions to the compost bin this summer, we were able to harvest a big pile of black gold! Our new farm manager, Mackenzie Perkins has no problem maneuvering the tractor to deposit the mulch in the Community Garden.

Hi-Tech Approach to Age-Old Problem

The WCG board has agreed to test out a new solution to an age-old problem. The locked grey boxes you will see in the garden are drinking stations for our garden rodent friends. Active chemicals in the drink will make them infertile-- unable to impregnate or bear young. We are hoping that these boxes, along with our attempts to secure fencing and clear overgrown plots and farm rows, will reduce the pest damage we have seen this year.

Garden Growers

People in the Garden

Meet the new Farm Manager, Mackenzie Perkins

New farm manager Mackenzie has been working in agriculture for 12 years on vegetable farms, cut flower farms, and retail and wholesale nurseries. A Louisiana native, she relocated to Richmond Virginia in 2014 and started her own small cut flower farm in 2017 called Boots and Shoots located in Chesterfield County. When she's not farming she enjoys spending time with her three dogs, kayaking and white water rafting on the James River, hiking and camping, and cooking. She's excited to be working with vegetables again and especially loves pickling all the veggies. 

Monday, August 16, 2021

August 2021

 What to Plant When?

We’ve made it to August. And the Garden is pretty tired, as are the Gardeners. But this is no time to take a rest. It is time to put in your fall crops! Virginia Tech extension says that you can plant these crops from seed now: Beets, Carrots, Collards, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard, Radish, Summer squash, and Turnips. You can also set out transplants of: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Leeks. The weather is SOOO hot that you might want to wait until the next cold spell/rainy day or put row cover over your tender transplants to protect them from the sun. And be sure to keep new seeds watered while they are germinating. But we have lots of growing season left!

Hot Work Party Saturday!

But many, many thanks to the troopers who came out: Ron Holt, Mike Perelman, Kris Marshall, Karen Thomas, Randi Helpinstill, Amy Hoag, and Nathan Moore. Grass was mown, a big hole in the fence was repaired, cardboard and hardwood mulch were deployed on the pathways, and the Blackberry Warriors did battle with the overgrown brambles. The next scheduled Work Party is Saturday, September 11. 


 A Plethora is not Too Many

By Martin Mathes  

Professor emeritus, Department of Biology      

College of William and Mary    

Our tomatoes had their origin in the New World in the Pre-Columbian era of South America.   dating from the Paleolithic Era through European colonization by Columbus.  It is believed that Mexico was the site of domestication of the husk tomato (Tomatillo)  which was originally derived from ancient (52 million B.P - calendar years before present)  fossil species.  The native Mexican word for tomato is tomatl which was cultivated by the Aztecs  2000 years ago.  Our cherry tomatoes are the most similar to their ancient relatives.

The first mention of the New World tomato was by the Italian, Mattiol in 1544, who suggested aphrodisiac properties. The Old World in Southern Europe quickly accepted tomatoes into their cuisine.  In France they were known as love apples while the British admired tomatoes for their beauty but thought they were poisonous. In fact, the acidity of tomatoes would leach the lead out of pewter plates used by the aristocracy, causing deaths due to lead poisoning. No one connected the plate with the poison at the time.The tomatoes were blamed and were nicknamed “poison apples”.

In 1710, Salmon first reported the presence of tomatoes in North America and in 1781 Thomas Jefferson noted the exportation of tomato seeds from France.  A circuitous path.

Modern tomatoes are classified in the family Solanaceae, genus Lycopersicon and species Esculentum (hairy wolf peach).  They are related to a wide variety of important genera (including potatoes, eggplants and peppers ) and toxic plants ( deadly nightshade and tobacco).  This deadly reputation of tomatoes was finally dispelled by Colonel Robert Johnson who drew a crowd in Salem, New Jersey, when he  ate a bushel of tomatoes.  He survived this 1820 ordeal and tomatoes were finally accepted into our cuisine.  We enjoy the BLT to this day

The tomato has become one of our most versatile "vegetables".  A  tax on vegetables resulted in a legal challenge when In 1893, the tomato was ruled by the Supreme Court to be a fruit.  Botanically fruits develop from the fertilized flower ovary.  Tomatoes are fruits not vegetables. "Knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit while wisdom is not putting it in fruit salad". 

The multitudinous  tomato characters - taste,size, color, disease resistance  etc. have been used in the production of hybrids  and heirloom varieties.  Heirloom varieties of tomatoes  (more than 600) are open pollinated and are preserved by saving seed from year to year.  We eat more than 12 million tons per year, but they add limited nutritional value to our diet.  Raw tomatoes contain 95% water, 18 calories, 0.9 % protein, 3.9% sugar and 1.2% fiber.  This is overshadowed by a significant dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene  (red pigment). Tomatoes love compost which is supplemented with a low nitrogen (12-15-30) fertilizer, Espoma tomato fertilizer or Miracle Gro to name a few.  Generally nitrogen promotes vegetative growth while phosphorus stimulates fruit development.

The development of the tomato fruit depends on the pollination of the individual ovules which form seeds.  The pollination process (transfer of pollen) is generally self (from the same plant) and depends on the shaking from wind or insects (usually bees).  Growing tomatoes in the greenhouse requires the artificial transfer of pollen from the stamen to the stigma.  This can be accomplished  by manual vibration from an old electric toothbrush or commercially available Blossom Set spray.  

The progressive development of the fruit is naturally promoted by the production of ethylene gas  This gas is also commercially used to stimulate fruit ripening after green tomatoes are shipped.  If you have an excess supply of green tomatoes at the end of the growing season, you can wrap the green tomatoes in newspaper (preferably the Wall Street Journal) to trap the natural ethylene gas. 

Record tomato fruits range from 10 pounds 2-7 ounces (Dan Sutherland in Washington State) to 1/4 ounce.  The best (depending on the source)  eating varieties include Aunt Ruby's German green and Brandywine.  When you buy tomato seeds or plants, be sure to check for virus resistance, growth habit and days to maturity. The growth habit may be indeterminate, which continues growth through the growing season, and the determinate (Patio and others) which stops growth when mature. The days to maturity generally range from 60 to 80 days but may be as short as 45 days. It is difficult to think of anything unpleasant while eating a succulent home grown tomato.       


Tomatoes may be propagated using a number of methods. Growing seeds is a sexual method while asexual mehtods include grafting and cuttings. Seeds may be hybrid or heirloom. Over 600 heirloom varieties are produced by open pollination and are preserved, saving the seeds from garden grown tomatoes, from year to year.  Hybrids are the result of controlled cross pollination  of two genetically different plants and growing the seeds that the cross produces. In grafting, a stem section (cutting) will form roots when placed in a moist atmosphere. Hormone powder, such as Rootone, can be used to promote root development. The plant which develops will be exactly like the mother plant. If you have a favorite individual plant, you can maintain exact duplicate plants for numerous growing seasons. If you wish to keep seeds, you should realize that the resulting plants will display genetic variation.  In order to save seeds, make sure that they are very dry before placing them in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator. Place a desiccant, such as fresh powdered milk wrapped in a paper towel or a  silica gel packet, in the jar with the seeds. This cold, dry storage, will allow  some seeds to remain viable for up to 15 years. When you use stored seeds, remember to test the % germination. 

Grafting involves the union of two or more selected  related individuals and in some cases, results in rather bizarre plants. For example pomatoes (topatoes) are the result of grafting tomato and potato and will exhibit characteristics of both individuals. They cannot reproduce by seeds and will produce tomatoes on the vine with potatoes growing in the soil. Tomato and tobacco can also be grafted.

A wide variety of insects share our tomatoes.  These include fruitworms, aphids, stink bugs, cutworms and citation sized hornworms, which can be easily removed.  Organic control may be achieved using neem oil or a variety of naturally occuring (for example pyrethrins) chemical  sprays.  Surfactant soaps are also effective.  Many tomato varieties are bred to be resistant to common viruses which are spread by insect vectors such as aphids and thrips.  Blossom end rot is classified as a physiological  "disease" because the causal agent is a nutritional imbalance  between calcium supply and water relations. Fruit cracking and splitting are not caused by pathogens but are the result of heavy rains preceded by dry weather.  This condition develops  when the fruit grows more rapidly than the skin can expand as the fruit begins to ripen. If you would like to control the growth pattern of indeterminate tomato plants, you can use pruning methods.  This involves the removal of suckers and topping the plant.

Acidity is an important factor associated with the flavor of tomatoes.  Tartness is dependent on the presence of a number of organic acids (citric, malic and ascorbic).  In general the ph ranges from 4.0 to 5.0.  High acid tomatoes include Big Girl and low acid is found in Lemon Boy and other yellow varieties.  New varieties, with properties such as acidity, drought resistance, salt tolerance, flavor, etc., are explored at a variety of research centers - California Tomato Research Institute and the C.R. Rick Tomato Genetics Resource Center.  Nothing better than perusing new varieties listed in the first spring seed catalogs  on a cold, dreary winter night.

If you wish to "put away" tomatoes you can use the canning methods to preserve an endless variety of recipes.  Tomatoes, blanched to remove the skins, may also be frozen.  The skinless tomatoes can be placed in plastic bags and frozen. The flavor can be retained for up to 12 months.

"You need the entire life to know just about tomatoes" -- Ferran Adr

Would Have, Could Have, Should Have

Lessons Learned Over the Past Year

By Elvin and Kay Clapp


We joined the Williamsburg Community Growers about a year ago. Both our parents had one-acre gardens. Our grandparents were full time farmers who also had large gardens about ¼ mile “down the road.” For 4 years, we tried a garden box amongst the trees in our backyard, but the trees won! We became JCC/Williamsburg Master Gardeners in 2019 and were armed with volumes of garden book knowledge. With such a legacy, we thought all we had to do at WCG was to spread a little seed, pick up some big box starter plants, and just add water. But it’s been 50 years since we last gardened with our relatives, and most of those “best management practices” have been lost in the brain fog. We needed new dirt under our fingernails. So, we started from scratch a year ago at WCG.

We offer these lessons and tips as you plan for the fall and 2022. As always, refer to excellent resources at the regional land grant universities such as Virginia Tech, N. C. State, and the University of Maryland. Their extension service publications are written for beginning and intermediate gardeners.

Lessons Learned:

  • Become one with your plot early on in the spring. We talked with a few other plot owners about how they prepared their soil last season.
  • Pay attention to the experts. Justin Diaz’s WCG presentation early last March got us off to a good bed preparation start.
  • Buy good seed and healthy starter plants. The big box stores’ may be cheaper, but local nurseries may be better. Ask the nursery where they got their plants. Local is better than Florida.
  • Limit the number of plants. We set 16 tomato plants in a 5’ by 10’ space. It was a jungle out there and difficult to weed and harvest the fruit. Plus, planting too close together limits air circulation which can contribute to disease.
  • Pay close attention to Jack Frost. We (Elvin) became impatient and planted the peppers and tomatoes exactly on the day of the average frost. He was lucky, but we should have waited until two weeks after the average last killing frost day of April 15.
  • Place your plant tags in the ground, so you know what varieties were successful and tasted really good. We had some excellent tomatoes this year but got the tags mixed up at planting - so it’s a guessing game as to what worked well or tasted better.
  • Put straw, leaves, or other weed inhibitors down before the plants get too big. We added straw after the cages or other supports were in the ground – no fun. In addition to inhibiting weeds, mulches also keep soil from splashing up on your plants bringing disease.
  • Speaking of cages, we placed our tomato cages after the plants were fairly tall and ended up “forcing” and bruising the branches up through the cages.
  • Weed before the weeds look you in the eye. It is easier to pull a one-inch weed compared to a “bunch” of two-foot weeds. Our walkway got out of hand at mid-season and it was uphill from thereon. And the last thing you want is for those weeds to put out seeds.
  • Don’t overwater. Just because Charlie has given all of us a continuous source of H2O at your fingertips, that doesn’t mean we should drown our plants. Watering deeper is better than watering frequently.
  • We learned to attend to our plot early in morning or late in afternoon, especially during our July and August sauna period.
  • Don’t wait too long to harvest. Eating okra or beans the consistency of shoe leather is not very appetizing.
  • Keep a clean plot. Dead fruit left on the vine or on the ground attracts fungus, insects, rodents, and nasty stares from your neighbors.
  • Take pictures and keep a log of when and how you tended to your garden.
  • Cultivate good friends. Get to know your neighbors and ask them what is working well. Exchange advice, veggies, and flowers.

And most of all, don’t give up. If the weather, bugs, and animals do not cooperate, accept it for what it is and move on “down the row.” Community gardening benefits go beyond the mere production of quality vegetables and flowers. It is a social and psychological haven for you, your family, and friends. And don’t forget to have fun so that your garden draws you back each season to a cornucopia of experiences to share with others.

 Additional References:

Vegetable Gardening: A Beginner's Guide Vegetable Gardening: A Beginner's Guide | NC State Extension Publications (

Home Vegetable Gardening  Home Vegetable Gardening | Virginia Cooperative Extension | Virginia Tech (

Vegetable Gardening  Vegetable Gardening | Cooperative Extension | University of Delaware (

Don’t make these 15 Common Garden Mistakes   Don’t make these 15 Common Garden Mistakes - Lovely Greens

About Grafted Tomatoes

By Barbara Arnold

Last spring, as we were preparing for the warm-season plant sale, we grew some Purple Cherokee plants and some rootstock plants named Maxifort. When the sprouts were the right size, Sally Hewittand I grafted them together in my basement. Though we didn’t produce a large quantity, we did offer a few for sale. So, what is the idea behind grafted tomatoes and how did they do in comparison to ungrafted heirlooms?

WHAT ARE THEY? Grafted tomatoes combine the vigor and disease resistance of a strong root stock with the outstanding flavor of an heirloom tomato that may not be as productive alone. The top of the root stock is removed and replaced with the top of the heirloom, called the scion. Then the tomatoes are placed in a healing chamber at specific temperature and humidity conditions until the graft has healed.

IS THIS GENETIC ENGINEERING? Not at all. It is simply a change in the plumbing. The top of the plant retains the exact genetics of the original heirloom plant. It is just receiving more nutrients and disease resistant qualities from the stronger root stock. Grafted tomatoes have been shown to produce significantly more and larger fruit. More production in the same space in your garden, who wouldn’t want that!

HOW DO I CARE FOR THEM? Grafted plants should be planted so that the graft remains above the soil level. You do not want the scion (upper part of the plant) to root or you lose the plant’s resistance to soil-borne disease. Remove any suckers (shoots or leaves) that appear below the graft or roots that appear above the graft. Provide support and prune carefully. These are indeterminate tomatoes (will continue to grow in height and produce fruit all season).

HOW DID GRAFTED TOMATOES DO IN OUR GARDEN THIS SEASON? We planted 3 grafted tomatoes this year; 2 purchased from a catalog (one Purple Cherokee and one Mortgage Lifter) and one Purple Cherokee that we grafted ourselves onto a Maxifort rootstock. We then planted one of each variety, not grafted, for comparison. They all received the same water and fertilizer regimen.

The 3 Purple Cherokee grew all together and into each other so it was difficult to see which was producing the best fruit. They were very productive. They did get some blight, but it was later in the season and in mid-August they still have green leaves and some green fruit coming. 

The picture below shows the ungrafted Mortgage Lifter. It was not as vigorous a plant as the grafted one and it succumbed to early blight quite quickly. We believe that we harvested about 10 tomatoes from this plant.

Now take a look at the grafted Mortgage Lifter, below. It also got early blight, but it was much later in the season. The plant was VERY vigorous and produced 47 tomatoes!

In our opinion, the extra expense and effort of grafted tomatoes really paid off. Sally Hewitt and I will, in all likelihood, try our hand at grafting next year again. If we are successful, we will again offer them for sale at the Warm Season Plant Sale probably for $10. 

Or you can buy them from a seed catalog, if you order early enough. Grafted tomato plants are offered by Totally Tomatoes, Jung Seed, Vermont Bean, and Territorial Seed, among others, and the price is usually $12.95/plant. They tend to sell out by February. You may want to give them a try.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

July 2021

 Farm stand going gangbusters!

Liz and her volunteers at the Teaching Farm are doing well attracting clients to their Farm Stand every Saturday morning at the gate to the Garden. They sell a small percentage of  their harvest to help support the Farm, with the rest going to food pantries in the area. They offer a large variety of produce, some that you may not be growing in your plots, like potatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, etc. They would love the support of the Community Gardeners and their friends and neighbors. So stop by next Saturday and see what’ growin’.


 “Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day” is August 8. Especially the zucchini that hid from you until they were HUGE! We are sure your neighbors will love the extra produce!

CG’ers Kylee (age 9) and Bailey (age 6) Gutierrez, harvesting baseball bats

Thanks to the Volunteers for the Work Party July 10

Many thanks to Barbara Loesch, Todd Lee Goen, Eric Wightman, Dee Zarnowski, Meghan Lamoreaux, and June Skalak who came out in the heat for this month’s work party. Weeds were pulled, cardboard was deployed, and wood chips were spread. Great work, you guys!

Next scheduled Work Party is Saturday, August 7. Come out and get your volunteer hours in!


Squash - The Bugs

By Elvin and Kay Clapp, Experienced Gardeners

Well, there’s a bug lurking on your squash, zucchini, and pumpkin plants and it is not a pretty sight. Yes, we are talking about “squash” bugs. The good news is that their life cycle is about 5-6 weeks and we are only visited by one generation each year. The bad news is that their life cycles can overlap and you will see these suckers anytime your plot is growing and glowing.

Adults winter in plant debris, such as mulch, and under boards and around buildings. They start to spring from their hideaway in mid-spring to mate and feed. Each female leaves us 20 or so copper/bronze-colored eggs on the bottom of leaves. Mid-May to mid-June is prime hatching time and the little black headed nymphs with green bodies are here for your viewing pleasure. Adults are 5/8 inch long with piercing/sucking mouths that zap the sap. The leaves of your beautiful squash plants begin to wilt and could lead to early plant demise. All that work that you put in to nourish those beautiful plants could go by the wayside.

So, what is a gardener to do?

  • Remove nymphs and eggs with duct tape.

  • Pick those adult suckers off and put them in soapy water.

  • Try trapping. Adults will gather under boards, newspapers, and cardboard at night. Lift the boards, etc., and dispose of bugs in the morning.

  • Don’t stress your plants. Water as needed.

  • Products such as Neem Oil™ and horticulture oil are effective when sprayed on nymphs. But follow the directions. Spray early morning or late evening. Do not apply above 90 degrees. Avoid using during pollinator activity.

  • Forget trying to sneak in non-organic insecticides when Liz and Charlie are not around. Adult bugs are difficult to kill with insecticides available to home gardeners.

  • Frost will kill the nymphs, but you still have those adults partying during the winter.

Start planning for next year’s crop.

  • Do fall cleanups of all plant debris, including above ground mulch.

  • Break up soil clods. 

  • Check seed catalogues for types of squash that are resistant to these bugs.

  • Use wider spacing between plants – which is a challenge given the size of your plots. 

  • Avoid planting the same plant in the same space two years in a row. 

Below is more information from the extension service of universities in our region. Happy hunting!

Additional Resources:

Squash Bugs – Vegetables. Has excellent photos of all stages of squash bug life cycle:  Squash Bug - Vegetables | University of Maryland Extension (

Lookout for Squash Bugs. It’s a practical guide for the home gardener:  Lookout for Squash Bugs | North Carolina Cooperative Extension (

Tomato Hornworms

Have you seen any of these little beauties?? Maybe not, as they are masters of camouflage. You will know they are there when an entire branch or top of your tomato plant, including the tomato, is gone overnight. In detective novels they say to “follow the money”. In finding a hornworm, you should “follow the frass”, or the blackish nuggets of poop they leave behind. Once you have found the little bugger, just pick him off and dispose of him as you see fit. 

Guardians Not Gardeners: The Work of Mary Reynolds and the We Are The Ark movement.

By Jennifer Myers


Hello Fellow Gardeners, (Guardians)


I wanted to share the work of Mary Reynolds with you, for those that are not familiar and for those who are - this might still be news.


Mary is a self described “reformed” landscape designer, wildlife activist and author based in Ireland. She has spent her career making fantastic gardens that embrace the living-earth-mysticism of the Celtic religion and spirituality. They frequently utilize spiraling stone walls in the style of the Fibonacci sequence; unkempt native flowers and wildlife, often referred to as ‘Forest Gardening’; stone sculptures in the style of traditional Celtic art; and the shapes and patterns in nature.


She is famous for winning the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002 at the age of 28, the youngest person to ever win. She won for her design called ‘Celtic Sanctuary’ - it was the complete opposite of your typical manicured English garden with rocks, 500 native plants of Ireland, a moon garden. It is a wonderful story that rocked the establishment and gave back wildness, and the Irish Celtic understanding of the earth and stewardship, that so many fancy English gardens are missing completely. A movie called ‘Dare to be Wild’ was made based on her life story, featuring this part prominently.


As she continued her career, she became more and more disenchanted with making “pretty gardens” that looked like you were trying to make a person fit into a pink tutu, as she says. So instead she kept embracing and re-evaluating what it was about the wild side that was so necessary and urgent, and one day while sitting in her garden working on a design for a client, she watched out her window as a bunch of animals ran fast across her lawn - a fox, rabbit, hedgehog, and others. She was confused, what was this about? She walked out to discover that the vacant lot adjacent to her home had been bought and was being bulldozed for a new home after sitting for many years in a ‘neglected’ state. However it was not really neglected, it was instead teeming with life! It had become a wild refuge for so much flora and fauna, and in an instant was being demolished. Of course we know this is happening all over the world, as I type this, but to have it happen before your eyes changes your understanding of what it really means for humans to literally be “devouring the planet” as the acclaimed artist Maya Lin has said repeatedly.


This was one of those defining moments in a person's life. For Mary, who saw the animals running as a reverse-migration of Noah and The Arc, she came up with an idea for a global movement called We Are the ARK. ARK stands for Acts of Restorative Kindness.


Instead of writing a book about these ideas, she instead built a comprehensive and spanning website: We Are The Ark is based on the simple idea that we must all be actively involved in weaving a patchwork of safe havens for Nature globally, in our gardens, backyards, schools, public spaces, and beyond. She sets out a list of 8 steps for what this means.


Here are the main highlights I wanted to make sure to include from the site:


What Can One Person Do To Make A Difference?

For those of us that care about the living world around us and are aware of the challenges we all face, this is a painful and desperate time – but there is hope. We have waited too long for changes to come from our leaders and politicians. We cannot wait any longer. The change will come from the ground up – it will come from us.


This is a call to step up and reassess our management of every individual tiny patch of the earth possible. It’s a call to the guardians of the earth to step forward and make themselves known, to raise their voices. We need to help the natural world and not hinder it. We have to invite nature and wildness back into our gardens, parks and every tiny patch of this earth we can. To create sanctuary, food and habitat for the creatures we are supposed to share this planet with and who in return will help us survive here within a truly natural and beautiful environment.


It’s up to each of us to re-wild our world, piece by piece until we have a patchwork  quilt of sanctuaries that wraps its way around the globe.

We Are The Ark. We Hold The Seeds For A New Earth.
Things are only hopeless if we do nothing, so let’s do something!

Let’s build an Ark.

"We are all becoming more aware of our climate breakdown but we seem less aware of the silent killer that is the loss of biodiversity and habitat. This is happening at a staggering rate and is equally – if not more – potentially devastating. With climate change we might feel the impact in our every day lives, but with biodiversity it is not so clear.  By the time you feel what’s happening, it may be too late”.            Cristiana Pașca Palmer UN Leader on biodiversity. Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

I invite each of you to visit the website, and to also look at her website


I am going to be reading her 2016 book “The Garden Awakening” and wanted to see if others wanted to read it too, and then we can talk about it. I also wanted to see if people wanted to gather in a club to talk more about the We Are The Ark movement and what we are doing in our lives to help move this forward.


Thank you for reading, and I hope to hear from some of you!
 You can reach me at


Best, Jenn



People in the Garden


Hi! My name is Kirsten, and I am the summer intern from William & Mary this year. After the summer, I will be starting my senior year and finishing up my degree in Chemistry and Music. Although gardening has little to do with my academic pursuits, I am grateful for the opportunity to explore a new skill that I otherwise may not have tried out.


My gardening knowledge was very bare bones before coming here at the beginning of June, but Liz and Charlie have done a great job covering the basics of vegetable growing without making me feel like I lacked any common knowledge. They have also wholly supported the mission of WCG: creating a healthier and more sustainable community. I come from a family that prioritizes healthy living, but I have been surprised by how much healthier my lifestyle has become just by coming to the garden. I have gotten so much exercise, sunshine, sleep, and nutritious food—all the things that usually fall by the wayside during the stressful times of the semester.


My favorite part of this summer has been seeing the whole process behind the food I eat. I can usually be found in the kitchen cooking during my free time, but I often forget to eat my veggies. Now that I bring produce home from the garden, I have enjoyed coming up with creative ways to prepare the different veggies coming in and out of season.


The other thing that stands out to me from this summer is the community at the garden. It has been fun to mix with people both younger and older than me. I have enjoyed meeting community gardeners and hearing all the wisdom that my elders have imparted to me; so far, I’ve heard plenty of advice ranging from “remember to wear sunscreen so you don’t have to go to the dermatologist when you’re my age” to “hang around someone rich until they fall in love with you, and then marry for money.”


I am grateful to have had this opportunity at the garden this summer, and I thank you all for welcoming me into the community!








Have some extra large cucumbers that you don’t know what to do with? Try this recipe from CG’er Carol Fryerfor Cucumber soup.



Cream of Cucumber Soup            

Potage aux Concumbres

This soup is based on a Julia Child’s recipe and is fabulous!  It is a good way to 

use large cucumbers that are too big to serve in a salad. 

2 lbs. cucumbers               

1/2 cup chopped dill  (or tarragon)

2 tablespoons butter             

1 cup quick cooking farina 

1/3 cup chopped onions           

½ cup Crème Fraiche (or sour cream)

4-5 cups chicken broth           

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Peel cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds with a spoon, then roughly chop the cucumbers. 

Melt the butter in a pot and cook the onions until wilted – 3-4 mins.  

Add the chopped cucumbers, broth, vinegar, and 1/3 cup of dill. 

Bring to a boil, and stir in the farina. Simmer uncovered until the farina is very soft- about 20 mins. 

Puree the soup in an electric blender. 

Before serving, reheat the soup and add a little water or broth if it is too thick, then stir in the crème fraiche  or sour cream. Top each serving with some dill, a dab of sour cream and very thin cuke slices, if desired.

For a cold version, chill, and just before serving, whisk in chilled crème fraîche or sour cream. 

Note: Bob’s Red Mill wheat farina is available in local grocery stores. Cream of Wheat cereal = farina - is no longer in local stores.  If you can’t find farina, substitute ½ lb. of cubed potatoes.    

Crème Fraiche  has a very rich flavor . To make it, combine 1 cup whipping cream and 1 Tblsp of buttermilk in a glass bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 10-24hrs until very thick then stir and refrigerate. 

Trader Joe’s carries Crème Fraiche – it is so good!

What's Happening!

Ocrober 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...