Wednesday, June 28, 2017

From the Gardens Registrar: Empty Garden Plots; Spinosad Spraying; Bean Beetles; When to Dig Up Your Garlic (not yet, but soon); Why You Should Mulch Your Garden; Workday to be Announced Later

Hello Gardeners,

EMPTY GARDEN PLOTS – Do you have friends who envy you because you have a garden plot at Eagle Heights, and they don’t? Well, now you can share the experience. We have garden plots opening up, and will need some new gardeners to take care of them. Some of these garden plots have been abandoned, so they may be in very bad shape. But since it’s getting late in the season to start a garden, the fees are half-price. If you know anyone interested, please ask them to email me for more information.

SPINOSAD SPRAYING – Due to windy conditions, and frequent rain this last week, we have not been able to spray for potato beetles. Spraying will still take place as soon as weather permits.

BEAN BEETLES – A few gardeners have spotted the first bean beetle eggs and larvae. There aren’t many of them here yet, but if you grow beans, please keep an eye out for signs of these pests. When we start seeing a lot of them, we will be ordering parasitic wasps to control them. This is a website with information and good pictures of the beetles and larvae:

(If you think your plot has bean beetle eggs, larvae, or adult beetles, please let me know.)

GARLIC – Many gardeners have garlic growing in our plots. If you planted the garlic in the fall, July will probably be the time to harvest. This is a website with good information on when and how to pull out your garlic, and how to store it:

MULCH – Now that University Houses Gardens finally have mulch, I can talk about the benefits of using it. We have leaf mulch and bark mulch at both gardens. The partially-composted leaf mulch comes from the Village of Shorewood, and it is excellent to spread on your garden. This mulch will improve your soil, smother weeds, keep moisture in (very helpful in dry weather, which we’re not having), keep plant roots cooler, make a softer and cleaner surface for your fruits and vegetables to rest on, and prevent soil erosion. The bark mulch is excellent for paths in your garden – it controls weeds, and it doesn’t deteriorate quickly, so one good thick application, and you’re done for the season. And it also looks nice. This year, we are getting a steady supply of the bark mulch, so gardeners should really take advantage of it being here.

WORKDAY – Will be announced separately.

Happy gardening,

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

From the Gardens Registrar: Our New Co-Chair; Eagle Heights Drive Construction; Leaf Mulch at University Houses Gardens; Potato Beetles and Spinosad; Tools in Plots; Dill; Workday Will be Announced Later

Hello Gardeners,

OUR NEW CO-CHAIR – Ilana Haimes, who gardens at Eagle Heights, has become the new Co-Chair of our Garden Committee, and will be starting her duties immediately. She brings a lot of enthusiasm and experience to the position, and we’re very happy that she was interested. However, we do still need one more Co-Chair, so that the responsibility can be shared. Please consider volunteering

EAGLE HEIGHTS DRIVE – The Eagle Heights Drive repaving project will start next Monday, June 26. Beginning on that date, the street will be one lane, one-way westbound, on the south side of the street. The project will take at least until mid-August, and unfortunately, while it is going on, there will be no street parking for gardeners on Eagle Heights Drive. Probably the closest parking lot is at Frautchi Point, north of the gardens along Lake Mendota Drive. This project is going to be a hassle for us, but the work has to be done. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and the project can finish on time. 

LEAF MULCH AT UNIVERSITY HOUSES GARDENS – Gardeners at U Houses probably already know that there is finally leaf mulch at your garden. Thank you very much to our garden worker, Will, and to the Village of Shorewood.

POTATO BEETLES AND SPINOSAD – Many gardeners are continuing to report potato beetles on their potatoes. We will be spraying Spinosad soon. (I haven’t heard a date yet.) Our garden workers don’t target specific plots – they just walk through the gardens in the evening and spray. Again, picking off the beetles by hand is the best means of protecting your plants.  A few other things you can do for your potatoes is mulch them, cover them with row cover, or plant strong-smelling plants nearby that can deter the beetles, such as horseradish, cilantro, dill, marigolds, and nasturtiums. 

According to Mother Earth News, Spinosad is based on the bacterium Saccharopolyspora spinosa, which was discovered in 1982 in an old Caribbean rum still.(!?)  These bacteria produce a substance that works as a neurotoxin in many insects. Susceptible insect species stop eating immediately and die in a day or two.

TOOLS IN PLOTS – Please remember, although we have lots of tools, we also have lots of gardeners. When you are through gardening for the day, please return your tools to the shed, and hang them up if possible. These are good tools, which make it possible for hundreds of people to have gardens and grow delicious food for their families – they should be treated with respect. Same goes for gardens cart and wheelbarrows. 

DILL – Many of us are delighted that fresh dill is abundant now in our garden plots, where it reseeds itself and is practically a weed. Dill is delicious, especially with cucumbers, carrots, and potatoes. And it is thought to be an aid to digestion. If you have dill and don’t know what to do with it (besides throwing it in the weedpile), here are some recipes:

WORKDAY – Will be announced separately.

Happy gardening, Happy Summer Solstice, and Happy National Pollinator Week!