The Garden Files: Cover Crops, Who’s Bugging the Potatoes, Garlic Success, Berries, and Herbs
It’s August! This time of year, many gardens are a feast for the eyes with the many, many shades of green and colored pops of fruit and vegetables.
Here are some photos and highlights of all that’s happening in the Campus gardens and some fun facts along the way! The chalkboard outside the garden shed lets us know what Gardener Dave and his crew are doing.
In the South Hoop House, Gardener Dave planted buckwheat as a cover crop amongst the peppers. Cover crops keep down weeds and help build the soil. In addition, the flowers on buckwheat attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
Beans are abundant in the Campus garden this year. Eco Campers had the experience of picking some, seeing Chef Chris prepare them and best of all–eating them! Along the way they learned that green beans are grown in all parts of the world. The pole bean varieties grown on campus include Rattlesnake and Blue Coco (so-named for blue/purple pods and coco-colored seeds).
Chef Chris says the same steps used to blanch and freeze asparagus and spinach may be used for green beans. Our recent blog post outlines those blanch/freeze steps.
The potatoes have had to deal with both gophers and potato bugs. Gardener Dave has live trapped two gophers and judiciously sprayed for potato bugs. The rest could be managed by hand–picking off larvae and bugs (and depositing them in soapy water). “Also, watch for the orange eggs on the undersides of leaves. You can crush the eggs or pick off the leaves.”
There were great results from new goat manure Gardener Dave used on some of the garlic beds. After harvesting, the garlic bulbs will dry for about a month. Then some cloves will be saved as seed (see video link below) and the rest used on Campus.
Way back in October, Gardener Dave planted garlic. If you're thinking ahead to fall, you can learn his methods here:
Strawberries and all other berries!
This year in terms of berries, Gardener Dave has focused on strawberries. He found re-locating them to the North Hoop House worked well for protecting them from all the creatures that ate them up outdoors.
Here are how the strawberries looked this week!
If you are a berry lover, here are some tips for freezing berries to enjoy in the months to come.
Think about how you plan to use the berries. For example, if you know you want to use strawberry slices, cut them into slices before freezing them.
Put the berries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze.
Once frozen, carefully place berries in container you want to store them in your freezer–e.g. Plastic bag or other container.
Plan to wash the berries just before use. Since you may rinse them as part of the thawing process anyway, this saves water and “wear and tear” on the berries too!
Herbs & More Herbs
Chef Chris has been busy drying herbs. Eight pounds of fresh-picked dill condensed down to one and a half quart jars of dried dill. The sage had a similar ratio. “Go ahead and smell the sage,” Chef Chris invited us. “That is Thanksgiving in a jar.”
And here’s a fun fact: Chef Chris is going to purposely let this cilantro “go to seed.” In doing so, once the seed pods are dry, he will wind up with coriander!
Speaking of going to seed, as we anticipate the end of this garden season, a reminder that saving your own seeds has many benefits: save the cost of new seeds, a “known-grower'' for your garden, ability to share seeds and overall resiliency for future generations.
We have videos on saving carrot and tomato seeds with Gardener Dave at this link. And if you are in the Pine River area, Balsam Moon Preserve will be offering a seed saving class on September 24. Learn more about it here.