We’re well into fall now with lots of things growing in our garden. Lots of sun and dry weather means it’s hard to keep enough water on the garden, but also that we have lots and lots of blooming things. We’re into a nice bumper crop of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers of various types, and green beans. Our new plantings of lettuce, cabbage, radishes, carrots, chard, mustard greens, and herbs is slowly but surely starting to come along. Check out the progress below!
October came with some challenges this year, not the least of which was the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. After school re-opened post-hurricane, the garden looked like a war-zone. Every trellis had been blown over, garden boxes were broken, plants damaged, and garden supplies and materials had blown around and were strewn everywhere.
I put out an emergency call for parents in the afternoon, and with only 2-3 hours notice, about 4 other parents showed up to help! We got some power tools and some new lumber and lots of helping hands and managed to re-erect 2 of 3 trellises (the other one we decided was just done for the season), repair the garden boxes, support and tie up plants that had fallen. I am so grateful to our committed families for their support!
Following the hurricane, our next problem is drought, which continues as of this post. I never imagined I could say that in the same month we could experience 10 inches of rain in a single day, and also experience drought.
Along with the dry weather we had a big problem with cabbage worms decimating the Kale.
We don’t spray any chemicals in our garden, so I spent several afternoons taking care of cabbage worms the old-fashioned way: by carefully inspecting and hand-picking off the worms. Though I can’t get them all, for the most part the Kale seems to be recovering nicely by now.
We harvested the last of the carrots today, with the help of a cute class of 1st graders.
I’ve decided carrots are the funnest thing to ask small children to harvest. No matter how many times it happened, every time a child pulled on a carrot green and a real, actual, orange carrot came up, they acted like they had just successfully performed magic.
There was a constant chorus of exclamations of surprise and pride and joy coming from around the garden.
What we didn’t eat we gathered up and delivered to Plant a Row for the Hungry along with kale, green beans, and some final radishes.
Ugly, Indeed! Hornworm Caterpillars. They give me the creeps. The willies. The heebie jeebies. They call into question my legitimacy as a nature-loving, earth-hugging garden lady, because I see one and I get all squeamish like a fussy, manicured, city gal. I was so grateful for the 4th-graders who removed them when we found them in the garden.
But NOTHING compares to the level of disgusting we are dealing with now. Because NOW our tomato Hornworm Caterpillars are infected with a PARASITE like unto the movie “Alien.”
Those little white things are eggs. The eggs of the braconid wasp. When they hatch, they will burrow into the caterpillar, eat its insides, killing it as they emerge. The new, thriving population of wasps will keep the caterpillars at bay without my having to pick them off, so we leave these caterpillars out there to support the wasp population.
School Gardens: capturing the minds and imaginations of morbidly fascinated 4th graders everywhere.
We just had our first week of school and lots of kids got to kick off the year spending some time in the garden!
Ms. Mattson’s 1st Graders helped us save seeds for the spring. They each got to choose a dead flower head (marigold or zinnia) and dissect it. They separated the parts and saved the seeds in a little baggie. These will go in my freezer until spring, and then we’ll have new seeds to plant for free!
After saving seeds from a flower head or two, kids looked for bugs. There are lots of fun, colorful beetles out there right now. They had a fun treasure hunt finding them.
Ms. Yearout’s 1st grade class planted lettuce and kale seeds, which we’ll transplant (just as soon as I get a chance to clear out and prep some new beds!).
Mr. Raley’s 4th grade class also helped us separate seeds, including some of the more challenging things, like dill and basil. THEN one of them spotted this sucker on our tomato plants!
Confession: Tomato Hornworms give me the heebie jeebies. I was glad to have an entire class of 4th graders who seemed eager to pull them off the plants for me! They found at least a half dozen of them.
Down the drain they went. I was too chicken to squish them in front of a bunch of children, but the kids enjoyed watching them float away to their fate.
Mr. Raley’s class came out IN the rain, by the way. Not to be deterred, Mr. Raley brought an umbrella, and the kids didn’t seem to mind at all. We did most of the seeds separating under the cover of the hallway, but mostly they just wandered around. They couldn’t go to recess, so they stayed and planted some fall crops to sprout as well.
We are back from summer break, and I have to pause to thank our amazing family volunteers! Members of the school community volunteered to take weekly shifts watering our garden during summer break. It’s a big garden and watering can be no small task! I was away all summer and didn’t know how that would go. I was SO HAPPY to return and see that everything was alive and well and growing!
Okay, growing somewhat wildly, perhaps, but that is the way of North Carolina. Our gourds we planted in the spring are for a 4th grade project this year, so we were reeeeally hoping they would survive. They did!
THANK YOU so much to our amazing community for sustaining our garden during summer break! We couldn’t do this without all of you!