Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Winter Growing Workshop at Tobacco Road Farm

Last Sunday, some of our sprout members had the wonderful opportunity to visit and be given an interactive tour of Tobacco Rd. Farm, which was sponsored by NOFA CT. It was an unbelievably beautiful and inspiring. We were not only given some seeds for our garden, but learned some incredible organic gardening techniques that we can apply to our garden. Below is a brief recap of some of the information we picked up:
  • use high quality compost with significant worm activity
  • when testing soil, one's best bet is to add nitrogen to the soil to improve its fertility
  • tilled beds with mulch filling are best for keeping a successful winter crop
  • when covering crops with plastic, use a double layer (if one layer is damaged, the other will protect it) and after it rains, recover and vent the ends
  • covering crops with a plastic tunnel can create an atmosphere that is 35 degrees warmer on a sunny day and about 5 degrees warmer in the evening
  • even when it snows, the plastic tunnel will survive the elements by becoming a quasi-igloo for the crops
  • chickens are wonderful for eating crop residue and providing nutrients for garden soil
  • bare soil is not good, it is best to cover it with mulch, greens, or cover crop
  • first cut hay has lots of grass seeds and cannot be used with slow growing crops (such as onions or leeks)
  • insects and disease are usually a product of the soil
  • lettuces are least productive over winter, it is best to seed in early December for a Spring Harvest along with beets and carrots
  • dandelion and garlic are great winter crops (low maintenance)
  • liquid nutrients include: raw milk, maple syrup, liquid kelp, and molasses
  • wasps aid in pest (caterpillar) control by feeding on flowering and killing caterpillars in the spring brassicas
  • to curb the flea beetle problem, over-wintered brassicas so they can become more resistant and save the seeds & don't seed when the plant should be flowering or the problem will be perpetuated
  • only seed broccoli or cabbage after the summer solstice
  • most importantly, keep crops in their natural system


This past Harvestfest weekend was quite a success for us. We sold Misha's home-made strawberry-rhubarb jam, Sprout! organic cotton t-shirts, tea & herb bundles from the garden, and baked goods to the Connecticut College community, making over $ 1,300! If you weren't able to make it, we will be ordering more t-shirts and selling our tea at the Blue Camel Café. Send us an email at sprout@conncoll.edu if you are interested in ordering a shirt.

Monday, October 27, 2008


October 18th marked the first ever Brumalia, a fall festival organized by a collection of environmentally oriented clubs and organizations on campus, including REC, Spokespeople, SAVE, and SAC. Sprout! organized and prepared a local, organic, and delicious dinner for the event. The meal included soup from New London restaurant Mange Tout, grilled veggies and mashed potatoes from White Gate Farm in East Lyme, a pasta dish from Pauls Pasta in Groton, home-baked goods from Earth house, and hot cider from Clyde's Cider Mill in Mystic. Over 160 people were served at the event!

After the dinner, an amazing evening music, fire-juggling, step-dancing followed. Thanks to everyone who helped make Brumalia such a success!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Preparing for Fall & Winter Crops

This week we cleared the back quadrants of the garden (harvested 20 pounds of remaining potatoes) and planted winter rye for cover crop. We also harvested the tomatoes, which are struggling as fall approaches. The tomatillos are fairing a bit better, and we except to have a few more tomatillo harvests. We also placed Irish Spring Soap on the garden fence and sprayed a concoction egg, spoiled milk, and cinnamon around the garden periphery in hopes to deter curious and hungry deer from entering the garden.