Monday, June 24, 2013

SPROUT Garden Update, week of June 24th

To our delight, the weather has been improving. Many of the plants in the garden have exploded with growth. The past week has offered us much in terms of sales as a result. In essence, the garden is coming together, piece by piece, both in functionality and in beauty.

Last Tuesday and Thursday we sold an abundance of leafy greens, including tuscan kale, red leaf lettuce, and mixed lettuce. We also began to harvest snap peas which have been slowly growing since the garden's spring inception. Unfortunately, we weren't able to sell a large, significant amount. That is indeed indicative of our constraints. Our aim for the growing season is to produce a wide variety, and in doing so we limit our capacity for large harvests. Nonetheless(!) our pea plants are happily producing new pods daily, and so on each selling day in the near future we should have at least some to give away.

As of today, we've finished harvesting the last of the kale. Kale is typically a cold crop, meaning it produces best in spring and fall. From our understanding, this is due to the plant having to withstand colder nighttime temperatures. In doing so, the plant produces sugars which lower the freezing point of the vital water inside. Sugar creates a better tasting leaf. If we were to leave our kale to grow throughout the summer, the leaves would become progressively less sugary, bitterer, and less palatable. As such, kale is off the charts until the fall.

Cucumber seedling
In other news, we've been noticing a good amount of beneficial insects that have assisted us in pest management. Ladybugs appear to be frequenters in the garden—they take care of our aphid problem. There are also an abundance of spiders which we see gobbling up small bugs. The soil is rich with tiny insects as well which help with soil cultivation. All around there are very few bugs that are causing significant problems. 

Join us this Thursday for another harvest sale... 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Crozier-Williams. Until next week....!

Monday, June 17, 2013

SPROUT Garden Update, week of June 17th

Greetings from the new SPROUT Garden! So far the season has been exciting. The plants, especially the broccoli and kale, have grown to be quite large. Even in the past few weeks alone we have seen a tremendous amount of growth. Sure, there are some pests that seem to be enjoying munching on a few leaves, but overall this hasn't stunted progress.

The season began with harvests of radishes, chinese cabbage, and lettuce, all of which sold out almost instantaneously at our harvest sales. Demand was much higher than expected. Even in the weeks following we sold nearly all our produce. Kale and more lettuce followed the first harvests, but again these sold out immediately. Since then, we've sold more lettuce mixes and cabbage, red lettuce, arugula, and some local hot sauce and hot pepper plants. But this is just the beginning!

In terms of what we have been growing thus far, much of it consists of spring lettuces, kale, and broccoli. (In the coming weeks we will be harvesting and selling a steady supply of lettuce and kale to indulge local interest.) Other than that, we have beets, carrots, peppers (both bell and extremely hot varieties), snap peas, bush beans, fall lettuces, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplants, sunflowers, and various herbs.

Snap Peas
As mentioned, the kale and broccoli have blown up quite nicely, as have the snap peas (which will be on sale next Tuesday!). The lettuces have also been thriving. Everything else seems to be in good condition aside from the various squashes we have planted. The entirety of the original squash, cucumber, and zucchini crops all died out early likely due to rapidly changing (and cold) weather conditions. We replaced them with young plants from a local nursery, but even those have been struggling to hang on. There are a multitude of factors that could be contributing to their suffering—we're keeping our eyes peeled. We're praying to the weather gods to be kind.

We will be keeping this blog up-to-date, detailing the garden's progress, throughout the summer, so make sure to follow and maintain interest! We duly appreciate the amount of support that faculty have given us in the first month so far. We will not disappoint!

...until next week!