Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Learning Something New at the SACG

Tonight was our first gardening workshop held by Franklin Park Conservatory at the SACG . Leslie and Jenna came to talk to us about extending the gardening season by growing crops which are more tolerant of cold and using cold frames. One tip we learned was to plant seeds twice as deep as you would in the Spring because the soil is cooler when it's deeper (and these seeds prefer cool soil). We also learned about using cold frames made of coat hangers and plastic to extend the season into January. Every layer we use will provide an additional layer of protection.

Rayna, Betty, Charlie, Dwayne, Briana and I were joined by some folks from the Bexley Community Garden (Barb, Diane, Trae and Michael). Leslie gave us some seeds (which we planted in Rayna's plot): carrots, lettuce, arugula, radishes and spinach. She also gave us some turnip and beet seeds and a chart to show us when to plant certain seeds based on how many weeks are left to a killing frost.

We discussed how to overwinter a garden. Last year, we pulled up all plant life and spread an inch of compost over everything (so that the freeze and thaw cycle would work it naturally into the ground. Leslie's not a fan of pulling everything out. She prefers that we cut the plants at the soil line and leave the roots to rot and improve the microbiology of the soil (and so that it doesn't all blow away). We also talked about planting an oat crop which would then die back in November and hold everything in place until we till it next Spring.

Everyone took turns preparing the soil, using Leslie's swisher hoe (which I must now buy) and using the handle end of the hoe to mark rows. Jenna brought us samples of fall crops for us to taste raw, in a salad and roasted. I had absolutely no interest in eating beets. I just picture canned beets and go "YUCK!" However, I tried a raw beet and really liked it. I also liked her mixture of roasted carrots, beets and turnips.

It was a great success. We helped them load up their car (particularly our big strong man, Charlie) and were done by dusk (with time for a few of us to harvest tomatoes from our own plots). Of course, Charlie is still looking for some advice about how to crow cauliflower and a few of us still need advice about when to harvest our sweet potatoes.

On the sad side, we learned that the only effective way to avoid losing another crop of zucchini and squash to those d*mn squash bugs is to not plant any zucchini or squash for the next three years so that the bugs starve to death in the next two seasons. Yikes! (You should have seen Mike and Beth's face when I told them this later in the evening;-)

Next week, we will have a family oriented scavenger hunt.

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