Thursday, April 23, 2015

Family Gardening Festival Preparations 4-21-15, 4-22-15, and 4-23-15

Putting on any event requires a good deal of work, especially the week preceding the event.  With a hands-on station on square-foot-gardening in our vegetable garden, our team worked hard getting the area ready for Saturday’s big event.  The event as we have mentioned earlier is the Family Gardening Festival. It is on Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 10 am to 2 pm.  It is free and will be a lot of fun. 

Below are just a few of the chores we undertook before the event. 
In this photo, one of our volunteers is working on tearing up a section of our other top performing cover crop, Austrian Winter Pea to prepare the area to plant on Saturday during the Festival. In a larger area, we would mow it down or disc it in. However, in our small plot, a bit of human power is necessary. With our drip irrigation system sometimes hidden, we decided it was best not to take out the tiller.  
 The plan is to cut down the pea, leaving the roots, with their nitrogen rich nodules, in the ground. Then with the upper section of the Austrian Winter Pea, we will work it back into the soil as a green manure. 
For the festival, we only worked in a small section of the Austrian Winter Pea so we can plant our bush watermelon seeds. Yes, you read that correctly. We will plant a watermelon that does not besiege our entire garden. We will post more on our special watermelon later.  4-21-15

Austrian Winter Peas (Pisum sativum subsp. arvense) “are top N [nitrogen] producers, yielding from 90 to 150 lb. N/A, and at times up to 300 lb. N/A.” We have written and photographed our crimson clover much more, maybe because of its red flowers, but the Austrian Winter Peas is an impressive cover crop. 4-21-15

 Read all about this winter pea in Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education’s publication of Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition

Here is another volunteer performing the same method described previously with the crimson clover. She is heaping the flowering crimson clover in a pile outside of the bed for others to chop with hoes before working it into the soil.  4-21-15
Here is another volunteer working the crimson clover into the soil. As described earlier in this post, on a larger scale we would do this process differently. 4-21-15

After working the crimson clover cover crop into the soil, we will be ready to plant on Saturday. Notice the wonderful green manure that will break down and add even more nutrients back into our soil. This area will be the home to our tomatoes. 

Notice the Wall-O-Water in the corner with the tomato we planted mid-March.  
Who does not appreciate a dressed up scarecrow in their garden? Today, we caught our scarecrow napping on the job. Even scarecrows cannot work unsupervised anymore! 4-22-15

Scarecrow Damage
All joking aside, it is important to remember that when fully dressed, gusts can blow Mr. Scarecrow onto your crops, causing damage. We overlooked this possibility. Luckily, our scarecrow did not cause any major damage except for crushing a few onion stalks and beet greens. It could be worse.  
Here are some herbs such as oregano and tansy that were dug up elsewhere in our Demonstration Garden for us to replant around the perimeter of our vegetable garden. Since the herbs are close to the vegetables we will plant, we must be cognizant of what we plant.  

According to the publication mentioned below, “…most gardeners today consider it [tansy] an excellent companion plant for use in warding off insects.  It is said to ward off potato beetles if planted near potatoes, to keep cucumber beetles and blister beetles away from cucumbers and, according to an old time use, to ward off borers from attacking peach trees.” Another Extension website, says tansy is excellent against fleas. 4-22-15

In this photo, we are watering our inoculated shiitake mushroom logs to entice another flush of our mushrooms for the Family Gardening Festival on Saturday. Recall when you see mushrooms in nature. It is after a good soaking rain in the cooler months. By watering the logs, we are mimicking those exact conditions.  Our fingers are crossed! 4-23-15

Here is a shot from outside our garden before the big festival!  

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