Urban Farm Updates, October 19th, 2017
Fun on the Farm!
Did you know? The U.S. Government considers any establishment which produces and sells more than $1,000 worth of agricultural products each year, to be a farm. So, that little roadside stand of yours, just might make you a bonafide farmer!
What’s Growing On?
What a wonderful fall week it has been, so far! The weather has been incredible and we had our first Work Study Student from Wofford College starting at the Urban Farm this week! The Work Study program partnership, between Wofford and the HCFM Urban Farm, provides the Urban Farm with more help to help grow and improve the agricultural programming on site, as well as provide education and development resources to the students. Our first student is Luke LeCroix, who is joining us from Montgomery, Alabama! Luke is a Senior at Wofford College, finishing up his Biology program; some of his interests include permaculture and mycology. He will be helping out at the farm this Saturday, during our Open Farm Saturday, from 8:30am to noon time, so be sure to come on down and give him a warm welcome! I am so excited to have him join the Urban Farm team, and I can’t wait to see this program blossom with each new additional student!
One of the many projects that we worked on this week, was the final harvest and consequential removal of the Malabar Spinach. As the cold, fall weather moves in, all of the summer crops slow down production and we make way for the fall and winter crops to move in. With the Malabar Spinach removed, the carrots have more room to spread out and grow, producing a row full of sweet, tender roots! Malabar Spinach is rather interesting in that it is a ‘vining’ green, that produces well during the hot and humid South Carolina summers! Using the fenceline as a trellis, the Malabar Spinach can help to shade out the linear bed below, during the summertime, which allows me to grow some less heat/sun tolerant crops below. It is sad to see the Greens go, but in the ever changing world of agriculture, I know that the true season of Greenery is just beginning!
Despite the less than desirable impacts that the bunnies had on my garden several weeks ago, my remaining Kohlrabi seedlings are sprouting up and doing well! It is amazing to see how quickly the plants can adjust to the cooler nighttime temperatures and flourish, without missing a beat! Having tried Kohlrabi for the very first time this past spring, I am very excited to introduce others to the, often overlooked, Brassica! With the exposure to several fall frosts, Kohlrabi sweetens right up and makes an excellent addition to almost any dish or salad! Don’t shy away from trying something new, you might just find a new favorite veggie!
My Kale seedlings, planted a few rows away are also enjoying the transition to cooler temperatures, in stark contrast to my poor Okra, Green Beans and Tomato plants which are sadly rebelling against the chilly nights. Part of the ups and downs of agriculture comes with seeing plants performing and producing super well under their ideal conditions, only to cringe when the temperatures begin to drop or sky rocket out of their comfort zone. However, the end of one plant’s production life, is the beginning of another; and so goes the cycle of life.
Inside of the Greenhouse, it is a whole different story; the Heater with its’ newly replaced motor is ensuring that the Greenhouse stays nice and warm! Carefully protected from the cold and heavy dews outside, my Cucumbers are happily growing and producing more flowers than I can count! It always amazes me how quickly the plants go from little innocent seedlings, to these gigantic Octopuses that are taking over the walkways… While some of the Cucumber vines have easily found and followed the trellising system available, plenty of other vines decided to follow the less ideal route of taking over the aisles. So, Luke and I spent some time yesterday training all of the Cucumber vines up and away from harms way; thereby ensuring that the cucumbers will also be easily accessible for harvesting some weeks from now! Fortunately, Cucumbers are fairly easy to ‘train’ and they will generally start clinging to the trellis within a few days.
I also have quite a few Basil seedlings which Cooper Gerus, our VISTA, helped seed and then transplant in the Greenhouse! It won’t be too long before I have to start pinching the tops of the Basil to encourage additional growth! Currently, I have Basil, Dill, Parsley and Sage seedlings growing in the Greenhouse. The Basil and Dill are frost intolerant and will live their entire lives in the Greenhouse; while the Parlsey and Sage will most likely migrate outside in February or March of next year. Having herbs available throughout the winter can help spice up hot winter dishes, since they can be prepared fresh, or dried and saved for later use!
Some of the other individuals migrating their way onto the farm and into the Greenhouse, as the temperatures drop, includes a wide variety of pests and their predators. Every fall farmers get an increase in pests, as the insects and animals prepare for winter; both those that hunker down and hibernate, and those that migrate away from the cold. And, while repellents and row covers are among the organic farmers arsenal, so are natural predators, like Preying Mantids, Lady Bugs and Spiders. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I would much prefer to give spiders an extremely wide berth, however, they play an extremely crucial role in keeping my pest populations down on the farm (and I have been known to flick my Garden Spiders a grasshopper or two, now and again). One of my greatest appreciations for my Garden Spiders, aside from the fact that they are very visible (wouldn’t want to walk into that web accidentally!), is that they generally stay put for the season! Once you find out where they put their web, that is generally where you’ll find them until the first frost. I have several Banded Garden Spiders who made their homes in my Cherry Tomato row for the summer, and they are as reliable as rain (more so, actually!)! Every morning as I am harvesting, I know the exact locations where I don’t want my hand going, because that is where my little pest catchers are!
Don’t forget as you make your weekend plans, that this Saturday, October 21st, is the next Open Farm Saturday! The farm will be open to the public from 8:30am to noon time! You all are welcome to come down to the farm, meet Luke our new Wofford student, take a farm tour, volunteer, or attend the Gardening Class from 10am to 11am! The Gardening class is $5.00 per person, the topic is “A Deeper look at Brassicas and Fall Gardening Success”. Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you plan on attending so that I can make sure I have enough handouts and prizes ready! I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday!