Responsibilities of Plot Managers
In addition to the watering and weeding duties of plot managers, with the growth of plants new duties were added.
When watering and weeding,
1. Please check under leaves of plants (especially if leaves have holes chewed by insects), along stems, and soil bed for insects like aphids, cabbage loopers, cutworms, flea beetles, japanese beetles, squash bugs. For images of these critters, see, among many websites:
Many garden books also have pictures. (See recommended reading below.) Of course there are also beneficial insects–those which prey on the pest insects–like lady beetles, ground beetles, rove beetles, soldier beetles, ambush bugs, assassin bugs, tiger beetles, damsel bugs, minute pirate bugs, brown or green lacewings, narrow winged damsel flies, aphid midges, hoverflies, robber flies. There are also spiders and wasps that prey on pests. So, to do this job well, some familiarization with bugs–both the pests and the beneficials–would be very useful.
These sites, among many, are helpful:
Whenever you find an insect, note it in the log book (kept in the watertight plastic container under the bench) the date, the location (which garden bed–North, Middle, South, east or west, Fence,) the type of insect, and the plant if you can ID the last two. (As we develop this garden project, we want to document as much as possible the problems that arise, and how we address them.) Then, if it’s a pest, kill it. If it’s a beneficial insect, leave it. For aphids, we suggest also spraying the plant with soapy water. We’ll be leaving some liquid soap, and a spray bottle for that purpose. Also, please note any ground mold you may find. Sally found some red mold. Be sure to remove it, after logging its location. Be sure to also check for mildew or fungus on tomato plants.
2. We’ve staked and are staking the tomato plants, and beans. We need to remove “suckers” from tomato plants in order to shape the growth of the plant upward (it is a vine and wants to spread every which way), and help the plant focus its energy on fruiting and growing straight. The “suckers” are defined as the shoots emerging in the V between the main stalk, and a branch stem. The “sucker” has the potential to grow out into another full tomato plant, and increasing the “bushiness” of the plant. We prefer the tomato plant to invest its vigor in fruiting and growing straight up.
3. We are applying fertilizer mixed with compost to the beds. Be sure to water the mixed soil well, but avoid letting the fertilizer mix touch the main stem of plants. Maintain a 2 to 3 inch radius from the main stem of plants when applying fertilizer and during garden maintenance. We want the fertilizer to percolate down to nourish the roots without possibly injuring the main stem. Please don’t apply fertilizer without first discussing with Tom, Matt, or Jay.
Jay Smith suggested that plot managers and other members of Prospect Farm , in addition to maintaining crop beds, can increase their membership participation through involvement in 4 other important research and work projects for our community garden.
1. Phytoremediation Project
We’re clearing the slope and planting phytoremediating plants to extract heavy metals. Jay has done a lot of research, but there’s still much to learn and apply to the project of using plants to remediate our soil. Apart from the volunteer workdays on weekends to clear the slope, we will be working some evenings, or whenever you can individually, to continue clearing the slope and planting phytoremediating plants.
2. Companion Planting
Plants can be grown in unique combinations to facilitate better growth, more effective pest deterrence, dense, intensive growth for more crop yields, and pleasing aesthetics. We’re modestly experimenting with this (with the marigolds and nasturtiums, and intermingling of herbs with other plants), but here too there is much to learn in order to develop planting plans for the second half of this year’s growing season, and the future. There are all kinds of combinations that are possible, and it’s an exciting approach to growing food crops plentifully, healthily, and beautifully.
Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Panting System for a Beautiful Chemical-
Free Vegetable Garden, by Sally Jean Cunningham. This book also contains pictures
and descriptions of garden pests, as well as beneficial insects.
3. Permaculture Principles
Permaculture is a system of design principles derived from observing natural ecological processes which can be applied to many forms of human endeavour including food production. One of its innovations (actually an ancient practice) is the forest garden, which can produce 50 to 100 per cent more crop yields than traditional forms of agriculture. It is Jay’s conviction that there are many permaculture principles that can be applied to the Prospect Farm project, including a forest garden, but there’s much research to be done to develop site specific innovations for our garden, like building swales at the top of the slope to facilitate water distribution along the slope once we start growing on it. It could be a very exciting, and educationally rewarding, exploration.
4. Community Gardens Research and Visits
How do other community gardens organize themselves? What are their forms of self- governance? What are their systems of composting? What type of gardening do they use and why? How do they generate funding? Membership? What are their approaches to creating or remediating soil? What kind of water harvesting systems do they use? How do they distribute harvests? What kind of networks or liaison might we establish with other community gardens? Wouldn’t it be nice to schedule visits to other community gardens to see how others function, and share knowledge? In many instances, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. This is something that anyone of us can do any time, it’s just a matter of scheduling.
The idea is to form teams of at least two persons or more for each of these projects in addition to the responsibilities of garden maintenance or compost monitoring, to do research and work at implementation to continue developing Prospect Farm. It would mean a little more involvement and commitment of time, but if members are committed to developing a real sense of shared community at Prospect Farm, and learning and growing as gardeners, these projects would both help us cultivate our garden and cultivate our community. Participation in any one area would not exclude participation in any other. Participate in one or all four of the projects.
And as suggested, we could meet once every few weeks for dinner to discuss research and plan implementation. Sounds like it could be fun.
Any Prospect Farm member interested in any of these projects, please contact
Jay at jsmithlistens at gmail dot com and cc: prospectfarmbk at gmail dot com