Tuesday, July 29, 2008

3 Squirrels, 4 Skunks, and 4 Woodchucks: Pest Update

Things are going better in the pest management department...

Big Critters: as you see from the title I have been catching larger critters, that have been voraciously eating the garden. Now things are starting to grow back quickly...I have also been generously loaned a motion-sensing camera from the Arboretum so that I can catch a picture of any animal eating night or day. I have a theory that there are deer eating the garden but have yet to find tracks. Image above of woodchuck in a Have-a-Heart trap.

Insects: While there are many beneficial insects in the garden, there are also many non-beneficial insects. While the Cucumber Beetles, Colorado Potato Beetles, and Flea Beetles are very few in number because their eggs were gotten rid of before hatching. Stink Bugs and Bean Beetle larvae are the worst right now; they have hatched over the last couple weeks and aren't doing any permanent damage, but need to be taken care of before they take over...They love the Curcurbits (cucumbers, pumpkins, squash). See images below: large image is some of the worst damage, then below on the left are newly hatched stink bugs, and on the right a bean beetle in larva form.

New London Farm-to-City Forum

Time: Wednesday July 30th at 6pm
Location: 1941 Room in Cro
Questions to: sprout@conncoll.edu

Re-New London Council, a New London-based non-profit, and Sprout!, the sustainable food initiative at Connecticut College have partnered to provide a forum for the creation of an alternative local food system for the New London area.

This is a preliminary meeting. No commitment is required from any of the attendees.

At this meeting we will be discussing different ways that we might achieve a more local and sustainable food system for the greater New London area, including Connecticut College. We hope that many farmers, institutions, businesses, restaurants, consumers, and any other groups or individuals interested in this goal will attend and be able to contribute valuable ideas and advice on how we might proceed.

CitySeed of New Haven will also be speaking on their experience at this event. http://www.cityseed.org/

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Week 7 Update: Harvests, Pests, and Sunshine

Harvests are starting to move into full swing at this point. I've been making deliveries several times a week for the last couple of weeks. I am now delivering: kale, amaranth, basil, and nasturtium flowers. See picture below of today's delivery baskets...(clockwise from top: kale, basil, amaranth)

Many more things are going to be coming soon. Cucumbers, zucchinis, beans, peas and tomatoes are all coming along very rapidly. The weather has been very dry for the last few weeks. I don't think we've gotten a really good soaking in quite a while. Luckily we have irrigation, so as you can see in the top photo, things are still green and flourishing...But it is always good to keep in mind the rains. In my mind, nothing is as good as a strong rain.

The real problem at the moment is that there is an animal(s?) eating a bit of almost every plant in the garden. This problem has been persisting for a while. I believe I first mentioned it in the last blog post. No plant has died, but many are now stunted. I now have two Have-a-Heart traps set, and so far I have caught two squirrels and one skunk with apples and peanut butter. My encounter with the skunk was little unnerving, but as you'll see below, I put it under a sheet so it could not spray me (advice from Jim Luce).

I've been shoring up the fence to make sure deer and others stay out. It's a difficult task (I wish I had a surveillance camera with night vision so I could see what keeps eating at the garden).

That's all for now. I will soon be posting about projects I'm working on outside of the garden.

Be well,

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Week 5 Update

Things are looking great in the garden. We had a period of cooler weather with rain almost daily for a couple weeks and that really helped a lot of the plants get going. The plants are all thriving. Even the flea beetle-attacked eggplants are coming back to life. The number of insect pests seems to have subsided, though I think some larger critters are starting to find the garden, so I'm in the process of inspecting the fence.

David Wu, a rising sophomore, started last week as the Summer Sustainability Intern through the Goodwin-Neering Center. He will be helping me a few days a week in the garden. Last week We emptied both Earth Tubs and brought the compost over to the garden to cure. The compost is looking much better than the first two batches. We are definitely getting better at making compost, which is great news. Compost is ESSENTIAL to sustainable agriculture...Speaking of which, I've also been spreading the horse manure that we received around the garden to fertilize plants.

Weeding is constant in the garden. Since much of this area is virgin soil, there are years and years of weed seeds that have built up here, so I'm constantly cleaning things out. But as our plants have grown in size and volume it has become less of a problem because they can now outcompete (for light) the small weeds.

I have also been delivering kale to Dining Services. It is our first ready vegetable this year, and soon we should have others as well. I have noticed a few cherry tomatoes that have popped up and will soon ripen, and many others are on their way.


Outside of our garden I have been working on many things. I'm working with CC Curtiss, to create an educational campaign for the Fall around food and nutrition. I've also been working with Professor Sue Warren of the Biology Department on a Freshman Seminar that she is teaching entitled "Healthy Choice."

I'm also working on ways to bring more local, organic, fair trade, and healthy foods to the campus. I've been meeting with community members, farmers, and Dining Services to work on this. I will keep you updated on any progress.

I went and worked at the FRESH New London Garden at the Waterford Country School this Sunday. They have a beautiful campus and farm that I recommend you all to check out. FRESH is growing quite a lot and gets help from community volunteers. They can always use more help though, so if you're in the area or perhaps when you return to school, ask me and I can put you in contact with them. You can also check out their website here.

That's all for now. Happy Independence Day!