Preparing to Plant A Garden: A Group Effort

Last Friday, we finally left the confines of the greenhouse and did some work out in the garden, and man did it feel good to be outside. With an energetic team made up of employees from the EES division of the college and students from APO (the service fraternity here on campus) we accomplished two seemingly impossible tasks:

Completed Task 1) The family garden plots have been weeded to perfection! Now we just have to spread some mushroom soil inside the beds and lay mulch around them and they’ll be ready to go for planting.

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A beautiful mother-daughter duo of gardeners!

 

 

Completed Task 2) The mushroom soil has been spread over the entire extended garden area. Now that we’ve added some fertility to the soil, it’s ready to be planted with all sorts of squash, cucumbers, melons, and herbs!

With a bit of help, this GIANT pile of mushroom soil…

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…Turned into a few smaller piles of mushroom soil

I was quite pleased

And then before we knew it, all of the mushroom soil was spread, and I was quite pleased!

 

After all of the hard work was done, we took a quick stop in at the greenhouse to check in on the seedlings; they’re growing beautifully!13538194465_4ac82f998f

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Take away of the day: preparing a garden is truly a group effort, and I want to thank all of the people involved in that effort- From the families who started seeds in the greenhouse, to the student volunteers who tirelessly washed seeding flats.  From Kim and Elizabeth who were involved in all sorts of logistical planning, to the campus facilities department for getting us the materials we needed. And of course, to our friends from EES and APO who got the ground ready for planting. With such great support around me, I am certain that this will be Painted Turtle Farm’s most productive season yet!

-Becca, one of many Painted Turtle Farmers

 

 

 

Planting season is fast approaching!

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” 

-Ruth Stout, writer and gardener

Although it may be hard to imagine amidst the cold and the flurries of this late February morning, planting season is in fact rapidly approaching, and I could not be any more excited. Seeds have arrived, the greenhouse is stocked with materials for seeding, and community gardeners have begun planning out their plots. 

What better way to welcome in the spring than with a vegetable garden? We will begin seeding broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and other brassicas in the greenhouse next Wednesday March 5th at 6 pm. Hope to see you there!

Planting fruit trees: the preparation

At the end of September, Thom Marti came out to the Painted Turtle Farm again, but this time to teach us about digging holes for fruit trees. We will be putting in 4 trees, two each of apple and pair, in the spring, but needed to choose potential sites and prepare the holes for planting. Thom brought some of his digging tools along and taught us the proper method for getting into the ground and went over some basics, such  as how far apart the trees should be planted and how large the holes would have to be to accommodate for the root masses.

The holes were approximately a foot and a half down, and about two feet wide.

The holes were approximately a foot and a half down, and about two feet wide.

Becca digs into the ground with Oscar & Sandra

Becca digs into the ground with Oscar & Sandra

The holes were then filled with organic material and covered with pallets to prevents animals from getting in. The soil will be kept and used to fill the holes when we get the trees in the springtime.

 Additionally, we had some volunteers who come out every week harvest some produce and do some much needed weeding. Thanks guys!

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Taming the berry patch

Taming the berry patch

Harvesting the green beans

Harvesting the green beans

Adrienne gathering some harvested produce

Adrienne gathering some harvested produce

look at those carrots!!

look at those carrots!!

A Successful Fiesta!

Back in June, Jasmine and our friend Sean came up with the idea to have a Garden Fiesta & Potluck later in the summer.  We had it this past Saturday, and it was a wonderful experience.  In preparation for it, we built a small semi-permanent stage out of pallets (donated from College Admissions and SCCAP) and an old dorm door we found in a dumpster!  We used the extra pallets to hang artwork on.  We had artwork submitted from a junior here at Gettysburg, Jasmine, our friend Walner (who helped us build the stage), and the Lexicon of Sustainability posters we had in CPS.

Jasmine securing the pallet to display art on

Jasmine securing the pallet to display art on

Adrienne helping to build the stage

Adrienne helping to build the stage

Student art display

Student art display

We set all of this up before 6, when people started to arrive.  Our first musical guest was a Music Education student named Emma, who played the fiddle for us!

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The turnout was fantastic- we probably had around 50 people.  The weather was also gorgeous, so people sat around talking and eating all the wonderful food! (of which there was actually too much of!)

An artistic view of the Fiesta guests

An artistic view of the Fiesta guests

Jasmine performed on guitar and our friend Maura joined.  Kim’s daughter, Ani, also sat on stage with them while they sang.

Jasmine & Maura

Jasmine & Maura

Our friend Ana brought hula hoops, which was also a popular activity for the night:

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Another friend of ours, Emily, brought drums!  So we started a drum circle just for fun:

Drum Circle

Drum Circle

It was a really neat mix of families, students, and community members.  There was a lot of laughing, noise-making. and eating, of course.  As the sun set, the sky glowed pink, and our little mason jar tea candles looked beautiful.

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We hope to have many more social gatherings at the garden in the future! :)

-Adrienne

Canning Workshop

We had a fun, bustling, and crowded workshop last week on canning.  We borrowed the Gettysburg Firehouse’s kitchen so that we’d have space to can about 20 jars of peaches, and about 15 jars of tomatoes.  There were over 30 people in attendance!  Jasmine, Kim, Elizabeth & I arrived early to clean and prep everything.  We sterilized the jars and lids and washed the peaches and tomatoes.

Fruit and Jars

We got pots of water boiling and as people arrived, we explained how the next step was to blanch the peaches (we did peaches first, then tomatoes).  We had a crew dunking the hot fruits in ice water then peeling the skins off:

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Then a crew of people cutting up the fruit:

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With the peaches, we had to make a simmering sugar-water syrup to soak them in for 2 minutes.  This is to keep the fruit from browning and to preserve shape.

Pulling the peaches out of the syrup

Pulling the peaches out of the syrup

Finally, we filled the jars with the peaches (and later tomatoes).  The syrup gets poured over the peaches to fill the jars the rest of the way (just use boiling water for the tomatoes).  Then, we used a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to push the bubbles out of the jars and wiped the tops with a moist cloth.

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I think everyone had a nice time and they all got to take home a few jars!  It was a longer workshop than usual, but it went well.

-Adrienne

Farmers’ Market, Round Two

Painted Turtle Farm was a vendor at the Adams County Farmers Market this past Wednesday, located at the Gettysburg Rec Park. It was a rainy day, but we shared a booth with the Hannah and Katie from the Sherfy Farm’s Community Garden and we all had a lovely time socializing and practicing our marketing skills.

Sandra and Oscar's family were so helpful with harvesting, washing, and selling throughout the day.

Sandra and Oscar’s family were so helpful with harvesting, washing, and selling throughout the day.

Sherfy Farm herbs

Sherfy Farm herbs

Practicing our vending skills

Practicing our vending skills

Katie, showing off some squash.

Katie, showing off some squash.

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Victoria pays a visit

Victoria pays a visit

Hopefully we’ll be at market again sometime soon.
-Jasmine

Beneficial Insects and Keeping Them

Last Thursday we had a workshop about beneficial insects and how to incorporate them into your garden. One of Elizabeth’s CSA shareholders, Jeff,  keeps bees and he came out to show us how bees can help pollinate and to teach everyone some some basics.

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Learning about beneficials and bees

Learning about beneficials and bees

Captivated by the enclosed bee frame

Captivated by the enclosed bee frame
a brooding hive, enclosed in glass

A brooding hive, enclosed in glass

Jeff and his hive

Jeff and his hive

Trying Jeff's honey

Trying Jeff’s honey

The life cycle of bees

The life cycle of bees

A photographer from Celebrate Gettysburg, Casey, dropped by to take some photos for an upcoming article. It was nice to have him at the garden.

The Celebrate Gettysburg photographer

Casey Martin, getting some close-ups of zinnias

It’s important to remember that although some bugs are pests in the garden, many are extremely helpful.  Here are some tips to manage the insects in your garden:

  • Identify insect before killing it, then determine whether it’s helpful, harmful, or neutral by looking it up online or referring to your handout
  • Utilize IPM (Integrated Pest Management) This keeps us from using pesticides and other harmful chemicals and allows us to make intelligent decisions about pest management:
  • Monitor garden daily to check for insects, population sizes, what plants they’re on and when in the year (it’s a good idea to keep track of these so that you can remember to take action early next year)
  • Identify the pest
  • Evaluate and predict: determine how much damage it’s causing or whether it’s a good insect and predict what might happen if you leave it or remove it
  • Decide and control: if it’s bad, use Pyganic spray or kill it manually.  If it’s good, plant more of whatever it’s on.  Remember not to use insecticides  because they also kill the beneficial insects.
  • Friends: Your handout has some of these, as well as the photos on the picnic tables.  Ladybug, Ichneumon Wasp, predaceous stink bug, paper wasp, praying mantis, predatory wasp, spiders (orb weaver), predatory mite, zelus assassin bug, assassin nymph, wheel bug, damsel bug, lacewings, praying mantis (eat friends and foes), tiger beetle, ground beetle, rove beetle (pincers), wasps eat caterpillars, syrphid fly, hoverfly, robber fly, tachnid fly (parasitoids- eggs eat hosts), eulophid wasp, ichneumonid wasp,
  • Pollen & nectar-bearing flowers can attract beneficials
  • Predator bugs eat pests for you!
  • Lots of predatory species are good (tend to be found in solitude, not groups, like aphids)

Examples:

    • Lady Bugs- Eat aphids.  They like flowers and many herbs.

      The kids found some ladybugs

      The kids found some ladybugs

    • Praying Mantis- Eat Mexican bean beetles, moths and many other pests.  They do eat some beneficials too, but are still helpful.  Plant flowers to attract them.
    • Ground beetles: Eat slugs, snails, cutworms, root maggots, and potato beetle larvae.  They like to hide under stones, logs, and other groundcovers.
    • Lacewings- Eat aphids, thrips, moth eggs, small caterpillars and mites.  They also like herbs and wildflowers.
    • Certain wasps- attack the eggs of pest bugs as well as some lay their eggs on pests as hosts.  Their larvae then eat and kill the pest bug.  They like pollen and nectar plants.
    • Hover Flies- Eat aphids and cabbage worms and can pollinate fruit.  They like annual flowers and herbs.
    • Spiders- Feed on many insects and prevent outbreaks of pest bugs.  They like perennials and straw mulches for shelter.