Thursday, August 25, 2011

Some Other Interesting Gardening Websites

Occasionally, I happen upon or am referred an interesting or inspirational website with useful or just fascinating information about gardening. I’ve added a few to this site in case you get bored, but want to keep reading.

Wizard’s Harvest to Table. Earlier this week, my friend Mary recommended a website by a California master gardener who has parlayed his gardening into useful tips and even a book. She thought of me because he had recently blogged about how a hot summer (like the one we just had) would delay the ripening of tomatoes (and even delay the setting of fruit) because tomatoes won’t ripen at temperatures above 85 degrees or below 55 degrees. My harvest is at least three weeks behind because of our July heat wave (on top of BER and cracked tomatoes). His website has lots of useful tips and is particularly well organized. So, check out Wizard’s Harvest to Table. Unfortunately, he does not include pictures with his posts, but that probably makes it easier to read from your cell phone.

The BBC. The British pretty much mastered all things gardening ages and ages ago. The BBC website understandably has a load of information. It was fascinating to read about “allotments.” This is basically the British version of community gardening. It has been legally required for each community to “allot” land for cultivation by the masses since 1908. Nonetheless, two-thirds of communities had a waiting list of 57 people for every 100 plots, although there was some concern that some people remained on a waiting list after getting a plot somewhere else or had their names on multiple lists.

Another fascinating article had to do with essentially creating an underground pond beneath your vegetable garden or hoop house that will collect rain water from your property so that you never have to water again. It was called a self-watering polytunnel. It reminded me of moats and tunnels I’ve seen. My brother-in-law was born and raised in Cameroon and surrounded his plot in Dublin with a moat which he dug himself. It looked like a lot of work to me, but he said his father always did it and he believed that it prevented flooding and helped conserve water. Last year, Jeff dug deep trenches between his rows of tomatoes and his tomatoes were large and beautiful. Again, it looked like a lot of work to me. I plant on flat earth and spread straw everywhere in between my rows to keep the weeds at bay.

Wilmington College’s Grow Food Grow Hope. I went home to God’s Country a few weeks ago for a family reunion to celebrate my grandfather’s 96th birthday. My Uncle Marshall is a serious gardener, my Aunt Brenda puts up a serious amount of food each summer and their grandson, Tyler (making him my second cousin or first cousin once removed), will be graduating in December from nearby Wilmington College with an agriculture degree. (I should mention that he is also a rodeo champion and has competed in national high school events. His aunt (my cousin) Rhonda is also a champion barrel rider). This summer he is interning on the college farm and I was fascinated. He says they harvest 300 pounds of produce each day. Half goes to the college cafeterias and the other half is donated to area food pantries. That’s a lot of food. We commiserated about tomato horn worms and he looked at me like I was from outer space when I suggested planting basil between each tomato plant (because they have over 300 plants). He recently helped to build a hoop house and was telling me how financially lucrative it is to grow winter tomatoes. He observed a farm where easily half of their income comes from growing cherry tomatoes in a hoop house. The plant is still planted in the ground, but the vines are trained up twine, which is suspended from the ceiling. As the tomatoes are harvested, the spent part of the vine is coiled on the ground and the newly grown vine continues to grow up the twine. This way, they can grow the same tomato plant for six months or more. Isn’t that riveting?

Anyway, Wilmington College also has a community garden program which provides plots to members of the community to grow their own food. Clinton County has been particularly economically distressed since the closing of the Airborne facility and this is one way that the college is helping out. I think it’s sweet and I’m proud to be from the area. (For that matter, a church is my hometown is cultivating eight acres for the to grow fresh food for area food pantries. Be sure to check out the video. They don't measure their harvest in pounds, but in bushels). My only complaint is that WC does not sell their nifty GFGH t-shirts online.

These are presented for your reading pleasure and edification.

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