Successful Work Party!
Thank you to all the Community Gardeners who came out to the Work Party on Saturday, June 10th. It was very hot and humid, but we were able to get the entire old fence line along Stadium Road cleared of weeds, brambles, and trees. Jessica Stephens brought a car-full of cardboard which was spread out to suppress the weeds. Then, Liz Callan used the tractor to bring up 4 loads of wood chips which were spread on top of the cardboard. Great work, everyone!
The next Work Party will be on July 10. Mark your calendars!
Work Party June10 - Jessica Stephens,Melissa Cole, Dee Zarnowski, Barbara Arnold, Will McElfresh, Eric Whightman. Not pictured - Doug Garrou, Marsha Maisey, Bill Hassenger.
Cleared fence line.
Word of the Month
Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch!
As the heat increases heading into summer, a layer of leaves (even better, with a layer of newspaper underneath) will (1)keep the roots of your plants cool, (2) hold moisture so you can water less frequently, (3) suppress weeds so you don’t have to weed as frequently, and (4) decompose over the season and add nutrients to your soil. Win, win, win, win.
Caught the rabbit!
Here is the cute little varmint who has been eating us out of house and home in the plots near Stadium Road. At least, we HOPE this is the one. He has been safely relocated to Melissa Cole’s bunny sanctuary where he is loving the clover fields, but probably missing dining on Bill Wallace’s succulent bean sprouts. We will keep the trap baited in case there are more.
FERTILIZERS: WHAT IS N-P-K all about?
by Carol Fryer
Fertilizers are valued for supplying nutrients for plants.
Plants utilize the nutrients for plant growth.
Fertilizers can be organic or inorganic. Organic fertilizers contain only plant- or animal-based materials that are either a byproduct or end product of naturally occurring processes, such as manures, leaves, and compost. Inorganic fertilizer, also referred to as synthetic fertilizer, is manufactured artificially and contains minerals or synthetic chemicals.
The primary nutrients that plants must have in the soil are N-P-K, otherwise known as:
Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K).
Most fertilizers that you buy at a store are labeled with three numbers corresponding to N , P and K, such as 10-10-10.
A fertilizer with all three main nutrients in about equal quantities is a balanced fertilizer.
The numbers tell you what percentage of the net weight is composed of these three numbers.
For example, a 50 lb. bag of 10-6-4 will contain 5 lbs. of nitrogen
(10% of 50 lbs = 5 lbs.), 3 lbs. of phosphate, and 2 lbs. of potash.
( Phosphate and potash are the available forms of phosphorus and potassium.)
The secondary nutrients are: calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, plus small amounts of the
micronutrients – boron, copper, chlorine, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.
Feed the Soil First : The best way to improve plant growth is by regular addition of organic matter such as compost to your soil. Organic matter improves soil structure, releases nutrients slowly, and increases good microbial activity in the soil.
Inorganic (chemical) fertilizers are usually less expensive and more readily available for plant growth than organic fertilizers. However, organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly over the growing season and often are also soil conditioners, aiding the microbial activity in the soil.
Some fertilizers, such as Osmocote are slow-release fertilizers, and make nutrients available in small quantities over an extended period. Starter fertilizers are specially formulated for seedlings and transplants, and are high in phosphorus to aid in root growth. Garden-Tone is an organic fertilizer specifically formulated for veggies.
How to apply fertilizer -Fertilizer can be applied in a number of ways. Most often a dry fertilizer will be applied as a top dressing (scattering the fertilizer around your plant) or as side dressing (placed in a furrow on the side of your plants). Liquid fertilizers are generally poured on the root area of your plant. Foliar fertilizers are sprayed onto upper and lower leaf surfaces. They are good for seedlings and transplants.
Know your soil - Most garden plants perform best in soils with high organic matter – more than 3% in the topsoil - and a near-neutral pH. If your soil’s pH is high or low, your plants will not be able to uptake the nutrients you have provided for them.
To learn more about your soil structure and nutrient needs, a Soil Test every 3-4 yrs. is worthwhile to have. You will receive information about your soil levels of N-P-K, the percentage of compost in your soil, the pH of your soil, and information about nutrients you may need to add to your soil. Soil Test packets are available at the JCC Extension Office on Forge Rd. and are also available at the Community Garden from a Garden Committee member. Once you take your sample you send it to the Soil Test Lab at Virginia Tech (it costs around $10) and they will return it to you soon, depending on their workload at the time.
How often to fertilize- The answer to this question, as is often the case in gardening, is “it depends”. If you have healthy soil and microbes that are continually decomposing organic matter in your soil to release nutrients, fertilizing is not as important. Also some types of plants, like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and squash, are heavy feeders and supplemental nutrients are more important for them than for light feeders like beans, peas, and turnips. And, plants need nutrients the most when their roots are getting established and during flowering and fruiting.
A rule of thumb on frequency is to fertilize throughout the growing season (until early fall) once every 4 to 6 weeks. Heavy feeders could benefit from a shorter cycle. Gardens with poor soil may need more frequent fertilization.
Remember, sometimes more is not necessarily better. If you over-fertilize your plants, especially with a fertilizer high in nitrogen, you can find you produce lovely, green, leafy plants that will not produce fruit. If you apply fertilizer at higher rates or in a higher concentration than recommended, you risk burning your plants.
Always read and follow the directions on the label.
Reference and more info: Fertilizing Vegetables
Spotlight on emerging Pests
The Harlequin Bug
Already this season, harlequin bugs have been spotted in the Garden. These bugs prefer plants in the Brassica family, so you will find them on your broccoli and cabbages. The harlequin bug damages plants by inserting its beak-like mouthpart into plant tissue and sucking out fluids, which destroys plant tissue and potentially kills plants, particularly young plants. Damage appears as stippling or light-colored cloudy spots. Young plants will have larger areas of plant tissue with dead patches, wilting, deformed growth, and possibly plant death.
What are they?
The adult Harlequin bug, a shield-shaped bug with bright red, orange, and black markings, is generally about 3/8"-1/2" in length.
Nymphs look similar to the adults, but they are more roundish in shape and do not have wings.
Eggs are barrel-like in shape and are light yellow or gray. The eggs are deposited in clusters on the leaves of crucifers.
How do they reproduce?
Harlequin bugs spend the winter hidden under plant debris, then, after emerging in the spring, females will lay their eggs. Eggs are laid in two-row clusters on the underneath parts of leaves. When she has finished, the female will have laid about 150 eggs. The female will fiercely defend her eggs from predators.
Within three weeks, the eggs will hatch and the emerging nymphs will begin feeding on the host plant. Nymphs feed for about two months and progress through five instars until they become adults. There are anywhere from 1 to 4 generations per year depending on the climate of a particular region
The impact may seem slight, but each female can produce 164 offspring. Without any control measures, her 82 female offspring can produce over 13,000 offspring in the second generation, and so on. So interrupting the cycle can really help control the population.
How to control them?
An effective way to kill harlequin bugs organically is with a simple combination of a 1-percent insecticidal soap solution, which penetrates their hard shells, plus neem (0.9 percent) or pyrethrin (0.012 percent). This combination is a contact-insecticide, so you'll have to squirt the eggs, nymphs and adults directly. These 3 insecticides are effective on a variety of insects in the garden. The Safer line of products includes a combination of insecticidal soap and pyrethrin in one bottle. (Pyrethrins are derived from chrysanthemums.) This can be purchased online or at some of the big box stores.
As always, read and follow the instructions on the label when applying.
Other control measures?
Clean up garden at season’s end. Remove all crop debris to eliminate overwintering sites
Search out and manually crush eggs, nymphs, and adults
Use floating row cover to exclude the pest
Grow Cleome flowers as a trap crop. Spray infested cleome with insecticide or pull plants up and dispose of in black trash bags
Check catalogs for resistant varieties of many cruciferous plants
People in the Garden
Meet Community Garden Coordinator Barbara Arnold
I came to horticulture later in life, though my father was one of the earlier adopters of organic gardening at our home in upstate New York. He had the best soil after years of adding a truck load of NY leaves every autumn! I learned alot from him.
I studied psychology at SUNY Oswego (fellow CG’er Eric Wightman is also an alum!) then got a Masters in Industrial Relations at Cornell, where I met my husband. I worked in Human Resources for 15 years, then was lucky enough to be able to stay home with my two children.
I have lived in 11 states, but when we moved to Illinois, our house came with a garden! This was when I started gardening in earnest and joined the Master Gardener (MG) program there. I also began studying Landscape Design at the community college. Classes in Woodys, perennials, shrubs, insects, etc. gave me a lot of information that I was able to apply to the MG program in Illinois and later in Northern Virginia, where we spent 15 years. My favorite jobs in the MG program were working the Help Desk, where I researched and answered gardening questions from the public, and the Speakers Bureau, where I was able to create and present programs for community groups. For 10 years I was also in charge of managing the Plant Sale, our major fundraiser, producing thousands of vegetable seedlings in the homes of MG’ers for sale at the Leesburg Flower and Garden Show. Sound familiar?
I am so happy to have found the WCG and this community of fellow gardeners. I am trying hard in my first year as Coordinator of the Community Garden to keep things organized, keep the communications flowing, and keep everybody happy and gardening successfully. Let me know when it is TMI!