Urban Farm Updates, October 12th, 2017
Fun on the Farm!
Did you know? Goats were one of the first animals to be domesticated for farming and milking! There are over 200 breeds of goats worldwide, and goats milk is the most widely consumed milk product across the globe!
What’s Growing On?!
Welcome back to another week on the Urban Farm! It has been another busy week for me; American Veteran Air Conditioning LLC came to the rescue; and replaced the malfunctioning motor on the Greenhouse heater, so it is back in working order now! Yay! Just in time for a hot finish to the month of October! I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the first frost date in just 2 weeks away! It certainly doesn’t feel like it! The nice part about an extended summer like this, is that my remaining summer crops will keep producing longer, and I will get a higher yield out of them than I expected! My Okra and Cherry Tomatoes have certainly enjoyed our recent warm weather and the decent rainfall we’ve had. They’ve come back strong for another decent harvest!
I also met with two Professors in the Environmental Science department at Wofford, Peter Brewitt and Amy Telligman, to interview and discuss the potential student candidates for the Work Study Program at the Urban Farm. If I haven’t mentioned it already, Wofford and the Urban Farm have partnered up to establish a Work Study Program out on the farm, to help educate student who are interested in Agriculture and Urban Farming, while also providing additional hands on the ground to help keep things running smoothly. Let me just say that the students who applied are a great bunch of kids (young adults, sorry) and that I was thoroughly impressed with candidates that we interviewed on Monday! They have made it one incredibly tough decision for us!
Meanwhile, on the farm, I have been busy working on creating and applying some natural, DIY pest repellents to help deter rodents, pesky bunnies and insects who might want to make the farm their home, or try to munch away at my seedlings before winter. So far the results have been positive and encouraging! Since I put out the repellents, I have not seen any more evidence of the bunnies coming around, and no more of my seedlings have disappeared, so I am calling it a win! These repellents will have to reapplied every 3 to 4 weeks, but they are all natural and made purely out of materials you’d find in your kitchen cabinets.
Cooper Gerus came down for some more hands on learning at the farm last Friday, and one of the projects that we worked on was giving my Little Leaf Cucumber plants an aphid dip. He is a real trooper for jumping in without hesitating and being willing to take on any challenge! The process of washing aphids off your garden plants is a great way to eliminate the majority of aphids, and if caught early, prevent a major aphid disaster. By washing the plants in a dish soap solution every week for several weeks, you can dramatically cut down on the aphids present in your garden or Greenhouse. It is definitely NOT one of the more glamorous tasks in gardening, but it is a natural, inexpensive and safe way to prevent pest damage and eliminate crop loss. Performing daily pest checks on your plants can help you to catch a disease or pest problem before it gets out of hand, and allow you to handle it organically, before it becomes a major issue. I found the first aphids on my cucumbers on Wednesday afternoon, and so first thing Friday morning we were doing our best to eliminate the pests before they did any major damage. The plants are doing really well and it is hard to tell that they were impacted by aphids at all. However, I am going to continue giving them an aphid bath every week for the next month, just to ensure that any adult aphids and eggs are eliminated quickly and completely.
The PVC tower lettuce is growing really well, and I am pleased with how much the seedlings have grown in just the past week! It amazes me how much plants can thrive and flourish, if given the right conditions! I love showing people the change week to week, how much the towers are changing and growing, with just some basic care! I hope to be able to harvest the first batch of lettuce in another 3 to 4 weeks, depending on weather conditions… My lettuce seedling row is doing well too, and it will be interesting to compare the growth rates on the lettuce in my row, vs the lettuce in the PVC towers. They were seeded on the same day and transplanted 1 day apart, so we will see which one grows faster and produces better!
I had to apply some organic fertilizers to my Banana Peppers inside the Greenhouse this week because they were starting to yellow. These pepper plants have not ceased to amaze me; they have been steadily producing since April, and are only now showing some nutrient stress. I applied some kale and fish emulsion to the plants last Friday, and they are already greening back up, and setting a whole new batch of flowers! I am beyond impressed with these plants! They have tolerated the heat, the cold, and drying out on 3 day weekends, all without complaining and while producing consistently! Definitely want to replant this variety again!!
My little cucumbers are setting flowers left and right, and every day I am finding new little cucumber babies! I can’t wait until they are ready for harvest! I will have some pickling cucumbers, as well as some slicing cucumbers. My hope was that they would be coming in and ready to harvest around the same time as my lettuce was ready to start picking. The timing is always a little bit of a guessing game, based on the varieties and what the weather decides to do. There are few things more exciting than getting to watch a little cucumber transform from a flower to a cucumber ready to harvest!
Another project that I have been working on recently, is acquiring all of the components necessary so that I am equipped to install an automatic watering system inside the Greenhouse. Currently, all of the watering on the farm is manually operated, so if there is a holiday, I have a vacation planned or if I get sick, the farm doesn’t get watered; which is especially hazardous to the Greenhouse. Greenhouses are much more prone to getting dried out because the sunlight’s affect is amplified, the air is warmer and the plants inside don’t benefit from actual rain. Especially with the holidays coming up, I am antsy to get this system installed and in working order. Having an automatic timed watering system in the Greenhouse would give me peace of mind, that my plants are getting watered, even when I am absent; which would be beneficial even on regular 2 day weekends. The process of getting wet and then drying out can be stressful, especially to young seedlings, which can result in dramatically slowed growth or event plant death.
Don’t forget, the next Open Farm Saturday is coming up on October 21st. The farm will be open to the public from 8:30am to 12pm; everyone is welcome to stop by for a farm tour, volunteer or attend the gardening class from 10am to 11am. The Gardening class costs $5.00 to attend, and this month’s topic will cover fall gardening, taking a closer look at Brassicas and other frost tolerant varieties. Please let me know if you plan to attend so I can make sure I have enough hand outs and that the giveaways are ready! Yes, you read that right, there will be giveaways for those who attend the gardening class, up to the first 8 people, so reserve your seat now!
As always, if you have any questions or comments please send me an email and let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Thanks! I look forward to seeing you all at the Open Farm Saturday on October 21st!