Fun on the Farm!
Do you know what white potatoes, bell peppers, beefsteak tomatoes and purple eggplant all have in common? If you guessed that they are all members of the nightshade family, you are correct! These vegetables are all a part of a very small group of edible plants in the nightshade family; most of the plants in the nightshade family are poisonous. There are only a select few plants in that family that are safe to eat, and there are still some people who have extreme sensitivity to even the edible plants in the nightshade family. Belladonna is one of the most familiar poisonous plants in the nightshade family; it is the poison used in the play MacBeth, and used again in The Mentalist, when Patrick Jane accidentally drinks tea made with Belladonna. So, this summer, feel free to enjoy the cultivated veggies from the nightshade family, but be wary of the unfamiliar members of that family, as they might not treat the consumer so kindly.
What’s Growing On?
This has been yet another insanely busy week, with the heat and humidity packing a punch out on the farm. I had a new volunteer who started coming out to the farm last Wednesday. Last week she helped me to seed some summer beans, which we then transplanted this week, when she came out to volunteer. It is amazing how fast seeds germinate and grow in such a short period of time, if they are given the right circumstances. We seeded trays of pole beans last Wednesday, and planted them exactly a week later, when they were 3 inches tall and had their true leaves.
Our incredibly awesome summer intern, Caitlin also came out to the farm last Friday and she helped me to clean up my snap pea rows, add new compost and reapply plastic to each row. The addition of plastic to our rows this year has made such a night and day difference at the farm. The soil is so easy to work with, it retains water better, I don’t have to fight with weeds, and the yield has been twice what it was last year. This week, I was able to harvest produce for farmbag, as well as the first Wednesday market of the season, yesterday.
The cucumbers that I planted into the 5th Vertical PVC tower 3 weeks ago are already flowering, and preparing to produce little cucumbers. I am excited about how well those towers are working out, and how much of an educational component they are playing at the farm. I can’t tell you how many people stop by the farm and want to check the towers out, or how many people come over specifically because they spotted the towers. They are a phenomenal space saver, and really can provide a gardening resource to individuals that either have just a very small space to work with, or those that have a larger space, but want to maximize the full use of the space.
I had a terrific group of young volunteers on Monday morning, who put their zest for physical activity to good use on the farm, helping me to fill the massive artichoke raised bed with soil and vermiculite (Thank you, to Atlas Organics and Palmetto Vermiculite). The crew also helped me to weed around my rows, harvest and clean some produce, as well as plant some tomatoes outside.
I had a major surprise on Tuesday this week, when the Compost Tumbler Fairy generously gifted the Urban Farm with 3, 52-gallon compost tumblers! Thank you, Compost Fairy!! So, I now have 3 compost tumbler to replace the open compost bins that we had been using on the far side of the farm. The bins were removed when part of the farm was taken over for the Butterfly Creek Project, and I had been searching for a low cost, replacement that we could store somewhere else on the farm. I had been hoping that we would be able to get compost tumblers to replace the old, open bin compost processing, but didn’t know that it would happen so quickly! The old method of composting took a lot more physical labor to manually turn and move all of the compost as it was processing, from bin to bin, and it also took longer to process and finish than composting in a contained bin. The bins will need to be filled with a combination of kitchen scraps and waste material as well as green plant product, and then they will need to be turned slightly, once a week for several weeks before the product inside is ready to be spread and used as compost in the outside rows and raised beds. So happy! 🙂
I am also preparing for the gardening class that I will be leading this Saturday, during our “Open Farm Saturday”. The farm will be open to the public from 8:30am to noon time, with a gardening class being held from 10am to 11am. The gardening class costs $5.00 per person, and this month’s topic will cover “Space Saving” habits and techniques. The class will be mobile, moving throughout the farm as I talk about different techniques and topics, and each student will be given a hand out with notes about what we covered in class, and they will be able to add their own notes if they want.
If any one has any questions, concerns, comments, or if you want to register for the class this Saturday, please feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Thanks! Have a wonderful week, and I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday!