Sorry y’all for the super belated garden post. Another updated one will be coming for today’s Dig In. Check out all the cool and informative pics that Steven took last week!
Suggestions for next week:
The Environmental Student Network will be joining us next week, so maybe we’ll be able to get all of this done!
This week we hosted E3’s basil seed planting social and got a couple extra hands helping out at the garden. Shout out to E3! We also started our compost experiment. Cloudy, our Compost Queen, has designated Alpha for our hot compost, see more deets in the compost entry. We also got bit of seed sowing done (yay radishes, carrots and onions!) as well as covered some weeding.
10. (Seed Sowing) We planted carrots and onions in the bed yesterday. Facing the numbered side of the bed, with your back to the picnic table, the left side of the bed is a mix of Scarlet Nantes carrots and Tokyo long White-Bunching Onions; the right side has six lengthwise rows alternating the same varieties of onions and carrots starting with onions closest to the numbered side of the bed (your vantage point). Before seeding, we turned the soil with water, added soil from the pile between the pine trees, added blood meal, leveled and topped of with an inch of Wynbrandt compost.
4. (Seed Sowing + Plant Progress) The radishes we planted last week have begun to sprout, particularly the southernmost row. This is most likely because it’s closest to the border of the bed and gets more shade from the bed’s lip. The row of peas we planted on the northern side of the bed were completely unearthed through erosion and the seeds were baked dry. We collected the unearthed peas and are soaking them at Steven’s place for a couple days to hopefully rejuvenate them. We planted more radishes in their place and added a tarp to cover both them and the center row of seedlings because shade clearly helps these guys get going. We also now know to really make sure pea seeds are deep in the soil, not just sprinkled on the surface and covered in a quarter inch of compost like we do for kale seeds, etc.
5. (Plant Progress) The kale from two weeks ago is still doing spectacularly, the eastern side (where we used our own fresh Dig compost) leading the way with the western side (old Wyndbrandt compost) lagging behind a little in development. Both plots have developed a proliferation of cotyledons, the baby leaves of a seedling, and are now starting to give way to adult leaves. What we think we want to do is harvest the more mature adult leaves before they get too big. We can’t let them mature too far because of how densely packed they are, but we want to try to get them old enough so that they’ll produce a second harvest when clipped.
3A. (Plant Progress) The nasturtiums we planted three weeks ago are doing very well. We plucked some weeds (we suspect nightshade) which were beginning to sprout throughout the bed.
12. (Plant Progress) The butter crunch lettuce from five weeks ago is still doing great, it should be about ready for harvest anytime soon. Nothing else we planted in the bed, not the butter head lettuce planted at the same time nor the sweet mace herb planted three weeks ago, has shown any progress. Neither of these crops received the shade that the butter crunch did, so we know if we’re going to start seedlings in the beds (at least for most varieties), we need to add a tarp. So that’s going on the to-buy list, more tarps for covering beds.
1. (Plant Progress) The onions and rainbow swiss chard we planted three weeks ago are progressing slowly. The soil was a bit dry, so maybe we need to give them a tad more water.
3. (Plant Progress) Same update as bed #1, the cabbage and onions from three weeks ago are progressing slowly. Soil needs a bit more water.
13. The herb bed is nice and neat and going fairly strong; we could probably plant some more. There’s a fair amount of free space open.
8. A few nasturtiums have sprouted unaided in the bed, probably left over seeds from when we had nasturtiums in there last year. The soil level in this bed is still really low and we’ve been meaning to add more to it. We’ll most likely let the nasturtiums be and replant them when we get around to adding more soil to this bed.
We started our compost experiment yesterday. We at the garden are trying to establish our own hot compost pile that will be able to process large amounts of waste produced on and around the hill and supply us with nice, usable compost. As far as we’ve established, we need both a steady carbon and nitrogen source for the hot compost, and we need a lot of the two elements. For this first round, our carbon source came from the large bin of sawdust we had left over from constructing the beds. We also used the dried trimmings that have been piling up between the two compost bins. We realize we need to establish a more reliable carbon source for future rounds. As far as nitrogen sources go, we are relying on food scraps. We have weekly donations from members who bring their scraps from their apartments and dorms, but to get the bin going we really need a much larger quantity. Yesterday we mixed in what food scraps we had and the remains of the Alpha bin in with our sawdust and trimmings, but we are in contact with the dining halls to see if we can get a hold of the waste from their salad booths which could really get us into business. The designated experimental bin is the rectangular one, named Alpha. We were going to use Vader, but it fell apart under the pressure from all the compost. We have a few weeks to wait and mix the contents of Alpha until it gets up to temperature, as well as adding a degree more of nitrogen rich ingredients, but in the mean time we ask all members that they DO NOT TOUCH ALPHA WITHOUT FIRST CONTACTING CLOUDY. We want to keep the experiment under control as much as possible for compost can be a very temperamental thing. We are now encouraging food scraps into Vader, the cylindrical compost bin, to which we’ll add trimmings as it develops to prevent against the accumulated smell.
Pomelo Tree: We did a bit of weeding around the base of the pomelo tree, as well as cleared it of leaf litter, to try and help it get as much water to its roots as possible as it embarks on the long and difficult journey to regrow its foliage. We weren’t sure whether or not trees benefit from mulch around their base or if the soil needs to be cleared to let the roots breath. We are going to do a bit more research on that point; some observation of trees around campus shows mulch cover.
Fence: We made an effort to fix the born parts of the fence today, but were quickly deterred by the fact that we don’t have a screwdriver! The bamboo is not only tied together, but screwed together. It’s sturdier than it may appear!
Suggestions for next week:
Thanks to everyone who made it out to the garden yesterday. We took some big steps this week and tackled some long overdue chores including trimming the pomelo and lemon trees. We also planted some more winter crops, checked up on our seedlings, and covered some other general garden upkeep.
Tree Trimming: This past week Steven and I partook in E3’s Garden Mentorship Program. We went to Olympic High School and helped out at the school garden alongside Debbie Harding, a master gardener with a boatload of useful and relevant gardening info for LA gardeners. One of the things she pointed out to us was the school’s infected lime tree, which she explained was suffering from scale, a small bump-like looking insect that covers tree stems, and leaf miner, which plants these beautiful almost iridescent paths of eggs on leaves. She explained the best method for dealing with these diseases is to cut off and throw away all infected portions, but if you have the patience you could individually squish the scale bugs; she said the leaf miner could be ignored if it’s not too widespread, trim if it is. We explained the pomelo tree and she suggested trimming it back.
Pomelo: With Debbie’s suggestions in mind and the frustration we’ve accumulated over the Pomelo’s lack of palatable fruit and teetering mess of thorny branches, we trimmed the tree way back. The tree has been suffering from ants, aphids, fungus, scale, and leaf miner for a long time and we wanted to grant it mercy and trim back the infected portions. We soon realized none of the leaves were completely free of disease and so we did away with them all and cut back all but the core trunk. The tree’s now in the same shape as was the apricot tree when we first got it, and we’re hoping it’ll take the same course and we’ll have some nice, new, fresh regrowth come spring!
Lemon: We also did some trimming on the lemon tree. A few of the tree’s stems nearest the fence were completely dead, we suspect scale, and so we clipped them off.
Note: All dead and infected tree trimmings were disposed of in the dumpsters behind the bungalow, NOT the compost. Debbie explained that most diseases can live through the average compost bin, only exceptionally hot composts can terminate them.
Bed Updates: We saw some great growth this week in nearly all of the planted beds, hopefully some will be ready to harvest soon (I’m talking to you kale). Others were given a bit of r&r and still others are empty. We felt the soil in all the empty beds and it was great and moist just below the surface, perfect for planting.
Bed 1: This bed looks rather sparse but don’t be fooled! The onions and rainbow swiss chard we planted there have all sprouted and are doing well. You can see the color variation between the chard sprouts; the onions have got a little less action going for them, they’ll take considerably longer to mature than the chard. We think for the future we’ll reserve the beds for onion bulbs, and bypass the seedling stage because of how long they may take. The tarps we used on the bed seemed to have worked just fine, we left them on for a week and the plants are doing alright. No definitive conclusion on how helpful they were. Also, for future reference, we’re thinking of planting seeds more densely. We planted four distinct rows with the seeds about four inches apart, if we want dense harvests we’ll have to crowd them more closely. It all really depends on at what point we want to harvest them, get them when their young or let them mature fully?
Bed 2: Empty
Bed 3: This bed is at the same stage as Bed 1. The cabbage planted at the center is doing a tad better then the white and yellow onions on either side, but they’ve all sprouted. Again, we’re thinking of seeding more densely in the future.
Bed 3A: The nasturtiums planted two weeks ago are doing great! They’re pretty well developed, hopefully we’ll have some flowers soon.
Bed 4: Seed Sowing Yesterday we planted Bed 4 with peas and radishes. Facing the numbered side of the bed, with your back to the picnic table, there is a length wise row of Dwarf Gray Sugar Peas on the left, a row of Cherry Belle Radishes in the center, and another row of Cherry Belle on the right. We placed the seeds on the soil and topped them with a half inch of Dig compost. One of Debbie’s tips was to soak pea seeds in water for up to four days before planting, she says they grow miraculously after that, but we were in a bit of a hurry and figured the peas have done fine before so we put them straight into the ground. Hopefully we’ll try the pea experiment another time!
Bed 5: The kale we planted last week has done beautifully! The eastern half of the bed, where we used Dig compost, has done significantly better than the western half (where we employed Wynbrandt compost). We wanted to see if ours could stand up to the master’s and it did! However ours was fresh from the bin whereas the Wynbrandt compost has been sitting in a plastic bag for six months, just something to keep in mind. We sprinkled the kale seeds in real dense and so we’ve got a thick carpet of sprouts. We’re letting them grow through this week and depending on how much more progress they show, we might harvest them either next week or the one after that.
Beds 6-11: Empty
Bed 12: The lettuce planted four weeks ago is still doing fine, the growth is a bit sporadic they’re everywhere in the bed. We’ll have to agree on a pint when to harvest them. We still haven’t seen any progress from the Sweet Mace Herb planted two weeks ago. We covered the seeds with tarp, have yet to know if it was beneficial or harmful. We’ll wait another week and check up on them.
Bed 13: We harvested a bit of rosemary and sage from the herb bed yesterday and did some general cleaning up. The leaf litter was cleared and Dig compost and mulch was added to the base of the remaining herbs.
We harvested carrots from the second easternmost wine barrel. They were scrumptious! They did grow really strangely though, so maybe the soil was a bit too dense?
We also plucked the Habanero peppers growing in a loose pot. They had some great color but were a bit overripe and so we tossed them into the compost. We did however save their seeds in a makeshift paper envelope now in the seed binder. We think we’ll put them in more direct sunlight in the future, because peppers like the heat.
The spigot was giving us a lot of trouble today, it would’t turn off once it got going. We don’t know if it was because of all the mud/leaf litter clogged in it or if the handle is too loose. We’d love to get our very own and maybe have the front desk keep it so others don’t wear it down. We’ll have to check with Sunset Rec people to get that figured out.
SOOF Funding has come through and we now have $184.01 to spend for administrative purposes.
Next Week: A few things came up today that we didn’t have time to cover including the following.
Note: Next week is also the E3 social, so we’re expecting a bit of a crowd.