Blog
 
Gravatar

EXPANDING THE CONCEPT FOR WHAT YOU CAN GROW IN A FIVE-GALLON BUCKET.

You don’t need a lot of space to grow vegetables—even if you live in an apartment or townhome and only have a patio or small deck with good sun.  Our great Okra experiment has proven that you can grow a considerable amount of Okra in only six five-gallon pots (plastic buckets from your local hardware store).  So far, we have raised 19 pounds of Okra this way for a current total market value of $87.00.  You could also grow many other vegetables from a five-gallon bucket.

Next on my list will be potatoes that are not sweet potatoes.  A few years ago, I grew non-sweet potatoes but it was such a production I didn’t do it again.  It involved getting chicken wire and stakes to make a tower, then buying straw to line the wire sides and filling with soil as the vine grew.  I think it will be much easier and less expensive to grow the potatoes out of a five-gallon bucket.

 

1.    Step 1: Choose Seed Potatoes (from a nursery or online seed company.  (Don’t use those from the grocery store as they have often been treated with chemicals.)

2.    Step 2: Separate the Eyes. ...

3.    Step 3: Cure the Cut Pieces. (Let pieces dry out for a day)

4.    Step 4:  Put about 7 to 8 inches of soil in bottom of bucket and plant eyes

5.    Step 5:  Plant two per five-gallon bucket and then weed out the weaker one when the leaves appear.

6.    Step 6:  Once stem is about 6 inches or so, add soil to top of leaves.

7.    Step 7:  Continue doing so until soil is at the top of the pot.

8.    When leaves are totally dead, dump the bucket on a tarp and sort out your treasure.

 

NOTE: Some stores carry vinyl bags designed to grow potatoes.  I tried one in 2019 for sweet potatoes that even had a clever trap door for harvesting.   The sweet potato vine died in the bag half-way through the season.  I have had no luck growing things including tomatoes out of vinyl bags but to each his own.  You may have a different experience.

_________________________________________________

LOTS OF TIME TO PLANT A FALL GARDEN IN GARLAND

This morning I’ve been reviewing all the edibles that we can plant for a fall garden.  Here is a list and plant by dates:

 

Snap Bush Beans September 1

Lima Bush Beans August 20

Beets October 15

Brussels sprouts. Sept1

Cabbage Sept 1

Carrots November 10

Cauliflower (transplant) Sept 1

Swiss Chard Oct 1

Collards October 10

Sweet corn August 20

Cucumber Sept 1

Kohlrabi Sept 10

Lettuce October 10

Mustard November 1 

Okra August 1

Onion (seed) Nov 1

Parsley October 10

Potato Sept 1

Radish Nov 25

Spinach Nov 15

Summer squash Sept 10

Winter squash Aug 10

Turnip November 1

Gravatar

WHY DO I LOVE THE GARDEN SO MUCH?

Everything that you need to learn about anything that is important can be found in nature.  In an urban setting, the closest you will get to nature is a wild community garden such as that of the Garland Community Garden that shares its border with an untamed riparian area by a creek, home to many creatures, including a resident owl and leaping frogs.

Mother Nature is the profound professor for those who care to listen. Nature provides the ultimate example of risk management.  One of the basic principles of risk management is to not put all your eggs in one basket—have as many backup plans as possible.

The design of plant seeds is the perfect example of this.  If you’ve ever walked through the woods around the Garland area, you are likely to return home with a few seeds of “Beggar’s Lice” stuck to your clothing.Hackelia virginiana, [Beggar’s Lice] is a biennial plant.  The seeds are burs, and are very sticky. The plant is native but a well-known nuisance in deciduous forests of the eastern U.S. because the seeds can be difficult to remove from clothing and especially pet fur.  The seeding part of the plant—the upper stem—dies earlier than most other plants, and becomes very brittle. Often the entire seed stem, or even the entire plant will come out of the ground if the seeds catch on clothing or fur, aiding seed dispersion.

 

The seed pods of the Common Milkweed [Asclepias syriaca L.] are another great example of nature’s risk management to ensure the lineage of her various plants continues.  Each plant of the Common Milkweed produces several pods and within each pod there are usually are 50 to over a hundred seeds. Each seed is attached to some feathery down.  The pod dries, cracks open, and releases hundreds of seeds from just one plant.  Most of these seeds will never complete their full life cycle into a plant, but a few will.  And therein lies the lesson for humans:  One good idea is rarely enough. You need to produce many good ideas in order for one of them to find a home and come to fruition. So don’t give up when one of your ideas fails or is reject by others.

Risk management is but one of thousands of skills and lessons to be demonstrated and learned in a garden.  A few of the other lessons include compassion, patience, mindfulness, conservation, appreciation, gratitude, appropriate timing and placement of things and events, generosity, love of the planet and many more.

Nature is also an inspiration for design of inventions that help human beings. The VELCRO® brand of hook and loop was invented by a man named George de Mestral in the 1940's while hunting in the Jura mountains in Switzerland. Mr. de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, realized that the tiny hooks of the cockle-burs were stuck on his pants and in his dog's fur and wondered how they attached themselves.

Provide an exception if you can, but as far as I know, the Garland Community Garden is the most unique community garden in Dallas County in that 1) it shares its space bordered by a riparian area on one side and a busy urban thoroughfare (Naaman School Road) on the other side. 2) There are no design requirements for our beds.  Thus, you will see vegetables growing in pots, in a keyhole garden, a raised bed fashioned from concrete blocks, lasagna beds, and other styles.  This fits with the purpose of Loving Garland Green, a nonprofit organization who are the official stewards of this space.  Our garden is designed not to maximize production, but rather to inspire the citizens of Garland to grow some of the food they eat—in their homes or in this garden by presenting different methods, plants and bed designs to inspire them.

 

SPEAKING OF GARDEN INSPIRATIONS COMING SOON:

  1. MONARCH WINGS—Yes, I’m designing a pair for the garden that will be finished in time for Labor Day

  2. An Annex to our Little Free library.  It won’t be as lovely as the one we have but it will do until something better comes along.  Sometimes we have to operate on the “this is as good as it gets” principle. I hope to get the Little Free Library Annex installed this weekend.  In fact, we may end up with two annexes: one for the children and one for the adults. For now, however, one will do.

  3. Two thermometers:  One in a place that gets full sun and the other in a place that gets full shade.  This makes for a fun activity for parents and children.  They can compare the difference in the two temperatures.  I also plan to create a sign about mercury and how that works.

  4. I’m making an information sign about the purslane (edible weed) I have planted at the children’s garden, Then I will put small garden signs about the garden where it is grows naturally.  The children can then hunt and find it.

  5.  A sign with information about growing hemp in Texas.
Gravatar

 

HEY Y'ALL, IT'S LEGAL TO GROW HEMP IN TEXAS!

Actually, growing hemp is legal in all of the USA.  President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law in December of that year—which legalizes industrial hemp after decades of the crop being caught up in broader cannabis prohibition.  The signing ceremony represented the culmination of a months-long debate over various provisions of the wide-ranging agriculture legislation. But after the House and Senate Agriculture Committees reconciled their respective versions, the final Farm Bill easily passed in full floor votes last week.

Hemp legalization, a provision of the bill championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), received bipartisan support, with members on both sides of the aisle celebrating its inclusion in the now signed law.

 

 

But you do have to follow a few rules!

SO, WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF ALL THIS?

The implications are nothing short of changing the world.  Right now, the focus seems to be on growing hemp for CBD products, but that is a very limited focus.     Hemp can be and has been used as the base material for hundreds of products—wood for floors; fabric for clothing; hand lotion and other cosmetics; replacement for paper products; even material to replace plastic products.

In terms of quality and performance, hemp fiber stands out as probably the strongest and most durable fiber in nature. In addition to being 10 times stronger than wood fiber, hemp is four times stronger than cotton. Industrial hemp is lighter and less expensive to process than wood.

Trees take a long time to grow, which is why trees are being cut down faster than we can replace them. On average, trees are 10-30 years old before they are used for paper. Hemp, on the other hand, takes 60-90 days to reach maturity. Basically, hemp is ready to be harvested and made into paper after one season.

 

HEMP AND HUMAN IMAGINATION CAN TRANSFORM OUR WORLD.  IMAGINE THIS FOR GARLAND:

The ideal products for local economies and the environment are those that are consumable and create little or no waste and are manufactured and purchased locally, thus eliminating all the pollution and expense of transporting the product to 1,500 miles away.  Toilet paper made from hemp is just one such possibility.

What if leaders of local governments let go just a few of their conservative notions that government should not be involved in production and put some of the 57 square miles of unused land in Garland to use growing fields of hemp?  The fiber from these fields would be used to create the end-product of toilet paper.

A total of 2,000 Americans were polled on their single-use household item spending habits. On average, respondents spend $182 annually on toilet paper (plus an extra $15 per month since the pandemic started).  So, let’s say that roughly a little more than a third of the population of Garland (100,000) purchased their toilet paper from a local supplier.  That would be $18,200,000 annually in potential gross income.  That’s a lot of money flowing into a local economy from just one product.

Furthermore, it’s a proven fact that more of the money produced by locally held companies tends to stay and be recirculated in that economy. Real change tends to be the most meaningful to the individual at a local level. 

 

SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE WITH THE HEMP TOILET PAPER PROJECT?

The first step would be to create a feasibility study to determine the merit of this idea.  Some of the information included in the study would be identification of all the feasible land within the City of Garland (both city-owned and private) that would be available as acreage for growing hemp; estimated expense for establishing a plant to process and manufacture the hemp into toilet paper; evaluation of the market who would purchase the toilet paper; estimated profitability, etc.  Perhaps the business would be set up as a cooperative of the people of Garland which would involve job creation along with sharing some of the profit with the local government of the people whose leaders would then plow this income into projects that benefit the community.

Gravatar

Okra and lots more to come! Notice the cut stems on the plant.
This is where previous okra pods were harvested.  I never
thought about how an okra grows until now, but it appears to
continue to grow inch by inch taller and at new inch it yields
a pod. I wonder how it knows when to stop growing?

THE GREAT OKRA EXPERIMENT CONTINUES .  .  .

Last fall, in one of my  expansive moments, I had the brainstorm of giving 10 people four five-gallon buckets, and okra seeds from okra grown in 2021 at the Garland Community Garden.  The people were to keep track of their.yields in 2022 and  then report.  At the time, I  had no idea if  an okra would grow in a five-gallon bucket.  Well, there were no takers for this urban farming experiment.  I guess folks were too busy working two jobs and answering all those spam calls we get these days.  I planted Okra transplants in mid-May of this year (2022).  I've also planted seed and transplants recently for my fall garden; however, this okra planted in mid-May  is still blooming and producing.

I don't work two jobs, but I do spend a lot of time declining spam calls and I'm a standing member in the good intentions club.  Thus, to my dismay, Charlie and I had been harvesting okra pods from our 6 five gallon pots and buckets for about 3 weeks when I realized that I was not keeping track of the pounds.  Then a few days ago, I realized we could count the notches on each of the six pots and get the total number of pods that have been harvested.  Then we could weigh an average sized pod (1 oz) and multiply by the total number of Okra for the total weight in ounces. (Divide that number by 16 for the total number of pounds.). 

Okra growing in an antique five gallon tin can. Thus
far, like all our Okra, this plant is Clemson Spineless
and thus far this season has produced 60 pods, about
four pounds of Okra.


I found that our okra, Clemson Spineless variety, was amazingly consistent with 60 pods per plant so far, and as you can see from the photo above, more to come.  I checked to see the price of Okra today  and Walmart has it for $2.98 for 12 ounces.  To date, we have grown 360 ounces.   Divide that by 12 ounces and you get 30 packages at $2.98 each.  Thus far, we have grown $87,80 worth of Okra (at todays market value).

Okra, If you like it, is a great vegetable to grow in urban areas in Texas.  1. It loves the heat. (although because you are growing in a pot, you need to water it daily and feed it a little compost once a week) 2. It is cheap.  soil; okra seeds (get them from a friend)*. 3. Even if you only have the limited space of a patio or deck you still have room for an Okra Urban garden.  4. Fresh Okra doesn't keep well for long, only a few days; however, it is easily frozen for later use.

The Okra shown in this photo is also from my front yard.
It was not included in the experiment.  It is a smaller variety
than the Clemson Spineless and is red Okra while the
Clemson is green. Oddly this variety was also consistent in
its output too.  So far each pot has yielded 20 pods per plant
with more to come.
_______________________________________________________________________

IF YOU HURRY,  YOU CAN HAVE A FALL OKRA URBAN GARDEN!

For best yields, plant okra in the spring season two-to-three weeks after all danger of frost has passed. For a good fall crop, plant at least three months (around the first part of August) before the first fall frost which can be as early as October 31st.

*We will have okra pods at the Garland Community Garden in September when we have our Little Seed Library."

REMEMBER TO DRILL HOLES IN YOUR BUCKET!
Potted plants need good drainage to stay healthy.

 

 

Gravatar
Aug 3 @ 2:49 pm

 

EDIBLE WEEDS

Sometimes it takes a long time for an idea to manifest into reality.  And so it is with a brainstorm I had several years ago—create a bed filled with edible weeds at the Garland Community Garden.  The idea manifested into reality today but not in a garden bed.  Instead, the vision is scaled down to a garden pot and there is only one pot with one weed at the moment.

Yesterday, while planting beets as part of our fall/winter garden, I noted there were several very healthy Purslane plants in the bed I was preparing for beet planting.  I gently pulled out about five of them and transplanted them into a 2-gallon garden pot.  So far, so good. Today it looks like they survived the trauma of being uprooted.

Purslane (The plant’s scientific name is Portulaca oleracea.  Purslane alsocalled little hogweed, pusley and fatweed.) Purslane is best known to most of the world as a weed, but it is an edible and highly nutritious vegetable that is loaded with all kinds of nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids. It grows all over the world, including North Texas—in gardens and even sidewalk cracks.

It contains two types of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA and EPA. ALA is found in many plants, but EPA is found mostly in animal products (like fatty fish) and algae. Compared to other greens, it is exceptionally high in ALA. According to the NIH Library of Medicine, Purslane contains 5-7 times more ALA than spinach.

This “weed” is also loaded with antioxidants (Vitamins C, E, A, Glutathione, Melatonin). Purslane also is high in important Minerals:  Potassium which helps regulate blood pressure; magnesium which may protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes; and calcium.

According to PubMed Central (a trusted NIH database) Purslane also contains high amounts oxalates which may be an issue for people who tend to develop kidney stones as oxalates can contribute to their formation.  Science Direct report that combining Yoghurt or coconut with Purslane significantly reduces the soluble oxalate content of Purslane leaves from 53% to 10%.

Also, according to another article in the NIH Library of Medicine: “Portulaca oleracea possesses a wide spectrum of pharmacological properties such as neuroprotective, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcerogenic, and anticancer activities.”

PS:  IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW TO PREPARE PURSLANE-- in addition to washing it off and popping it into your mouth, there are all kinds of recipes for Purslane on the Internet.  Just Google "Purslane Recipes".  I did and got back About 1,920,000 results  

Gravatar

 

 

Fried Insects are already available as street food in Germany 
By Wilhelm Thomas Fiege / insektenwirtschaft.de - Own work
CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65265722

There's been a strange push lately to get people to eat bugs. Bill Gates has talked about it many times on social media, and many news outlets have attempted to convince people that it's completely normal to munch on crickets.  Nicole Kidman is among the latest in the attempt to normalize eating bugs. She sat down for a segment with Vanity Fair in which she was served a four-course meal of bugs, many of which were still alive. [By the way, eating live bugs is not recommended as you could get a parasite.  All the experts I read advised to cook the bugs thoroughly.]

First let’s address the conspiracy theories surrounding this. Conspiracy theories abound in today’s world—in fact, so much so that we have conspiracy theories about concept of conspiracy theories. Some say those who label other people’s opinions “conspiracy theories” are propagandists whose goal it is to discredit the truth for their personal gain. I prefer instead to call what some might label as “conspiracy theory” merely an opinion that some, often those in power, disagree with. In fact, over the past 10 years many stories, once labeled “conspiracy theory” by the media have been proven to be true.

It is no surprise that conspiracy theories abound concerning the issue of the very real push in the media to normalize the idea of bugs for food in our western culture.  By the way, this push by the media and the Establishment is very real. You can verify for yourself by searching on the Internet.  I found examples of it that go back as far as 2012—ten years ago.  When I searched “push to normalize eating bugs”, I got 5,620,000 results. Some people are saying, for example, that the rich will be forcing the poor to eat. insects while they (the rich) eat prime rib. If you look at the price of the few insect food products on the market today, you can easily see the fallacy of that. Some rich folks may not even be able to afford this cuisine, much less the poor.  For example, a 5 oz. bag of Chirps Cricket Protein chips sells for $17.99.   At Walmart you can purchase ten 1oz packages of Lays classic potato chips for $4.99.  Ten ounces of a snack for $4.99 or a 5oz snack for $17.99?   The market for this new cuisine is most definitely the rich.


1. EATING INSECTS IS NORMAL IN OTHER CULTURES—2 BILLION HUMAN BEINGS EAT INSECTS EVERY DAY

First of all, according to the FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) estimates, every day about one third of the Earth's population, or more than 2 billion people, eat insects.

 

2.  THERE IS A GREATER AVAILABILITY OF INSECTS TO ALL PEOPLE OF THE WORLD THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE OF EDIBLE PROTEIN

Estimates of numbers of edible insect species consumed globally range from 1,000 to 2,000. These species include 235 butterflies and moths, 344 beetles, 313 ants, bees and wasps, 239 grasshoppers, crickets and cockroaches, 39 termites, and 20 dragonflies, as well as cicadas. 

 

3. EATING INSECTS INSTEAD OF MEAT COULD GREATLY HELP TO SAVE OUR PLANET FROM ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION.

Agriculture is the top source of worldwide deforestation (40%), and among the top commodity-drivers of deforestation, beef holds the first place. Overall, beef is responsible for 36% of all agriculture-linked forest-replacement. It is estimated that for each pound of beef produced, 200 square feet of rainforest are destroyed,

Cows produce 100x the Greenhouse gas emissions of crickets. Cows eat 10 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of meat. Crickets only eat 1.7 pounds.

Insects are far more environmentally sustainable to raise and harvest.  For example, one pound of cricket protein and be produced with just one gallon of water, while the same amount of protein can be made with about 2000 gallons of water from beef. 

Approximately one third of the world’s cereal production is fed to animals. Think about the huge impact it would have if most of that was used for feeding people, instead. Also, insects have less waste: 80 percent of the body is considered edible compared to 40 percent for beef. Because of all this, insects tend to have a better “feed to food” conversion efficiency ratio than livestock. There are many other benefits to be gained for the planet and humanity for choosing insects as your choice of protein. 

 

4. INSECTS ARE MORE PROTEIN EFFICIENT THAN BEEF OR OTHER MEAT

Farm-raised crickets, for example, contain double the amount of protein in chicken, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach.

 

INDUSTRIALIZATION OF INSECTS FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION IS STILL IN ITS INFANCY

Checks and balances need to be established to ensure native species are not over-harvested, thus upsetting a natural balance that has taken millions of years to achieve.

Also, eating insects is not for everyone as eating bugs could trigger allergic reactions in some people. According to several sources, those with an allergy to crab, lobster or shrimp should steer clear of foods containing insects. 

But things are moving forward.  In May of 2021, a European Union panel voted to approve the sale of an insect-based food for humans for the first time in the union’s history. The French company Agronutris had put in the application to sell dried yellow mealworm, a maggot-like organism “ said to taste a lot like peanuts”  when dried; with EU regulatory approval, the company hopes to sell the mealworm as a flour-like powder.

One of the early efforts in the USA has been funded by Mark Cuban.  The product is called Chirps chips. The chips are a line of high-protein snacks made from cricket flour. The other ingredients include corn, beans, and chia seed.

 Chips made with flour milled from crickets priced at $17.99 fir five ounces.

 

CONCLUSION AND SPECULATIONS

If you ate the bugs that showed up in your garden, there would be no need for pesticides* (and as a gardener, think of the satisfaction that might come with eating them—revenge, not to mention the last word with them).  However, I’m not advocating eating raw bugs. Applying high heat, such as baking or boiling, is the only way to ensure there are no parasites on the insects.

I doubt that I will ever be the person who pops a whole chocolate grasshopper into her mouth.  That is far too close to the source for my comfort.  I will likely be the coward who eats food products such as Chirps Chips which is made with cricket flour [provided they bring their prices down from the ionosphere.]  Still and yet, this is food that has been highly processed, so it comes with all the same negatives as any processed food.

Setting aside my mistrust of our government, the media and celebrities such as Bill Gates and Nicole Kidman (both of whom are cheerleaders for insect cuisine) and neither of whom I trust; and regardless how disgusting and repugnant the idea of eating insects is to me, I’ve decided that eating insects instead of steaks and pork chops is a worthy undertaking.  [Although I likely won’t start doing this tomorrow.]

____________________________________________________________________________________________

*Note if you are an avid gardener who visits the garden at least once a day, there is no need for pesticides--just kill them with your bare hands and don't forget to put a notch in your belt..

 

 

Gravatar
Jul 26 @ 3:28 pm
Pin on Pinterest

 

Libraries are great places where knowledge is stored and shared with communities.  In the past few years the concept of library has been expanded.  We now have free little libraries all over most of our cities. People build them and put them up in their yard. I know of  at least three right here in Garland.    Typically, they look like the photo above.  However, the one we have at the Garland Community Garden is unique.  It was donated by the folks in the nearby Flamingo neighborhood. It was crafted from a metal box that once dispensed newspapers. The concept is a 24/7 library right in your neighborhood where you can come and get books and also leave books that you have enjoyed. One of the principles of the Little Free Library is that by providing greater, more equitable book access in neighborhoods worldwide, we can strengthen communities and influence literacy outcomes.  Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota.Their mission is to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries.  There are over 150,000 little free libraries all over the world.

BOOKS ARE GOOD TO SHARE AND HERE ARE THREE LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES THAT SHARE OTHER THINGS:

1.  SEED LIBRARY

Audrey Barbakoff and other members of her community wanted a place for people to share and donate vegetable, flower and herb seeds.  Barbakoff who works as a librarian on Bainbridge Island, Washington,  thought that the public library was the perfect place to house a seed library.  In 2014 the group and the library staff teamed up to build a seed shed right behind the Bainbridge Branch Library.  Residents bring their seeds to the library and the staff organize, label and store them in the shed where people are free to take what they need.  According to Audrey, the seed library is sustainable in all ways because it encourages people to grow locally and connect with what they eat.  It's socially sustainable because people are coming together to pool resources.  Borrowing something is also economically sustainable. 

 

2.  LITTLE FREE FOOD PANTRIES

Darla Bradish, a property manager in Bremerton, Washington heard about the Little Free Library movement and imagined a similar concept, but with food.  It's hard for some seniors to get to food banks so why not make food available in neighborhoods she thought.  She got her program, 'Kitsap Neighborhood Little Free Pantries" by her county public health department She then created a Go Fund Me account and a Facebook page to solicit donations and volunteers.  The success of her project led to the local corrections department offering to build her more pantry boxes.

 

3. TOOL LIBRARIES

Liz Matthews loves taking on do it yourself home improvement projects but doesn't like buying tools and only using them once. She turned to her neighbors and decided that everyone could save a lot of time and money if they shared tools.  She created a Facebook group where 400 of her neighbors exchange tools such as drills, weed whackers, pressure washers and more.  "Not only have I found every tool I've ever needed, but I've also been able to share with others and meet some new lifelong friends," she says.  "It encourages safety and pride in our 'hood, and that's what this is really all about."

 

I think I will build a seed library for the Garland Community Garden this fall. 

Gravatar

100+ Temperatures and Thinking Fall Garden?

Yep!  I am!

All the garden books I read tell North Texas gardeners to start planting seeds for your fall garden now.

A week ago I planted cantaloupe, Kombucha squash and spaghetti squash seeds.  I also bought some seeds for butternut squash.

Although I like to eat them, I gave up trying to grow yellow and other summer squash types because the squash bugs get them before they are even fully mature. Summer squash is characterized as being soft-skinned, making it more tender and moist overall and likely more attractive to pests. In contrast, winter squash is considered to be more hard-shelled, making it ideal for storing throughout the cold months (hence why it's called winter squash).

Kombucha, a small round squash, about the size of a cantaloupe, is delicious and my favorite.  It has the deep orange color of a pumpkin but tastes closer to a combination of a pumpkin and a sweet potato.  Like most winter squash, its rind is hard. Kombucha is also hard to find in the grocery store and tends to be pricey.  Usually you can only find them in the expensives stores and only around Thanksgiving.  Spaghetti and Butternut squash also belong to the category of winter squash.  This squash seems to be more resistant to insects than the summer squash, however, it tends to like cooler weather and that presents a challenge.  I planted it a week ago at the same time I planted the cantaloupe and spaghetti squash seeds but it took 4 days longer to germinate.  The Spaghetti squash and cantaloupe germinated in only 3 days.

Above are the Kombucha seedlings.  I didn't know what to expect as these seeds were from 2019.from a squash I had grown from Baker Creek seeds. but they germinated just fine--almost every seed I planted.  Whenever you can, it is best to use seeds from healthy plants that were grown in the area where you live because those plants have a proven track reord for being compatible with your climate.

Spaghetti squash already has seedlings that have the beginning of their true leaves.  I'll dig them out one by one with a spoon and transplant to individual containers that I'll put in trays for easier management--transferring them from early morning sun (until about 11 am) and evening from 6 PM to dark. until late August when I'll transplant them into the garden.

Above is the cantaloupe.  I'll transfer them to the garden the first of August as they are more heat tolerant.

BABYING. YOUR PLANTS DURING THE HEAT

Ideally in 100+ heat most vegetable plants need to be watered twice a day--in the early morning and evening. Tender new plants and seedlings need to be protected through the hottest part of the day with a shade covering.  For small tomato plants it' s easy:  Put a tomato cage over the plant and cut up an old sheet to drape over the cage from about 11 AM to 5PM daily.  Use large safety pins or clothes pins to attach the cloth to the tomato cage.

Above is the set-up for my three pots of seedlings;  Four tomato cages support a twin bed size sheet (one on each side of the two end pots).  I use clothes pins to attach the sheet to the top of the cages.  You want to make sure the cloth is at least a foot to 18 inches above the plants so as to ensure good air circulation.  You don't want to create a hot box for the plants.

_______________________________________________________________

If you want to put transplants in your garden now, two of your safest bets for survival are okra, cantaloupe, and peppers.

Gravatar

 

STEALING IS STEALING

Whether from a Grocery Store or a Community Garden

“Community” in the Garden refers to the community of the people who garden there--the ones who actually grow and take care of the plants--not the general public at large. Even members of the garden do not harvest from the plots of others.

The Garland Community Garden is there for the general public to enjoy and learn from observation--a peaceful and lovely place to visit.  It is not there for the public to harvest the produce grown by the hard work of others.

The photo below is of a curly leaf Kale plant at the Garland Community Garden. Two days ago, it was a full and healthy plant. When kale is harvested, the gardener takes no more than 20% of the leaves from the bottom layer of the plant.  The thief who chopped the leaves off this plant took about 90% of all its leaves.  This puts the plant in severe stress and it likely will not survive.  Even if it does, it will never be as healthy or productive as it once was.  Curly leafed kale, if well-cared for can last for two years and produce lots of kale for many meals.  This kale plant was only 6 months old.  It was not the only kale plant that was stolen from.  Another plant had about 50% of its leaves stolen and yet a third kale plant had about 30% of its leaves stolen.

As a result of this severe theft, we have decided to install surveillance cameras in the garden. Any videos of theft in action will be published for all to see--including the thieves’ friends and possible employers.  The video will be identified for what it is--a theft in action. 

Yes, food is expensive. Yes, there are many among us who are poor.  We have food banks in our community to assist the poor and down on their luck such as the Good Samaritans of Garland--an organization that we donate 50% of our produce to.  The Garland Community Garden is not set up to serve as a “come and pick our produce”.  It is set up to serve as peaceful place to visit and also as a demonstration garden to show the public plants that grow well in our area.  We are not set up for production for the public consumption.  Those who come and harvest from our garden, as did the kale thief are vandals who destroy the beauty of the garden.

 

Gravatar

Perhaps if we put more emphasis on working together and sharing instead of competition, we might all be better off.

In addition, we might want to rethink our current corporate agriculture system.  I think about that more these days when I shop at the grocery store and see the soaring prices of food.