It was great seeing so many returnees to the garden yesterday! We had a great turnout this week and got a lot of the more labor-intensive chores out of the way. A shout-out to the Alpha Chi Omega sisters who attended and helped us get a handle on our compost! Another shout-out to Judy for coming back again (all the way from the Valley woah) and dropping off her hammock! Things are definitely sprucing up in the garden, the place is lookin' good.
Bed Updates: We’ve had a hot few days so yesterday we used our man power to mix the dry soil in beds 4, 5, 6, and 8. We first cleared the leaf litter, then added water as we turned the soil. We took out debris and beetle grubs along the way (thank you to Ariel for squishing all the beetle grubs from bed 4!). We want to keep these beds nice and moist so they don’t bake into un-plantable bricks, and also keep the pests out. Beds 7, 9, and 11 were nicely moist just under the surface so we let them be. We also left bed 2 alone.
Bed 8: For some reason this bed has a very low soil level, we wanted to mix some potting soil in with it but held off because our bags of soil were covered in ants. Maybe we’ll use some home-made compost to fill it up in the future, we’ll report back.
Bed 5: After mixing the soil and getting it nice and moist, we decided to do a bit of an experiment. We divided the bed down the middle and covered the western half with a quarter inch of Wynbrandt compost, as is our custom, and planted a layer of kale seeds sprinkling them evenly across the surface as Steven Wynbrandt showed us during his workshop. For the eastern half, we used some of our own Dig compost, from the compost bin, and planted an equal amount of kale seeds. We’ll report back on how our compost performs in comparison with Wynbrandt’s. The race is on. This bed was planted with kale most of last year, so we think it should do well again. After sowing seeds on the opposing sides, we covered the bed with a tarp.
Bed 10: We replanted Janet. Janet is the nickname of the italian oregano that Janet Napolitano planted herself in the garden over the summer during her visit to UCLA. See the story here. It was the only plant left in the bed and so we replanted it in a ceramic pot to clear the bed for future mixing. We trimmed it’s more lengthy stems and put it by the bench under the pomelo tree. The bed is now empty.
Bed 13: Cloudy did some trimming in the herb bed.
Compost: Thank you to the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority girls who came out yesterday and helped a ton with our compost. They processed the huge pile of dry organic matter that was accumulating between the two bins, chopping it up and mixing it with the existing compost. We’ve officially named the southern more cube-shaped compost bin Alpha seeing as it is our primary compost bin where members can dump their food scraps, and the Alpha Chi girls helped out so much with it. The other cylindrical bin closer to De Neve Drive has been dubbed Vader, because it looks like Darth Vader’s helmet. The girls harvested a great bunch of Dig-made compost from the bottom of Alpha by sifting its contents and separating the fine dirt. A little bit was used in bed 5 (see below update) and the rest was bagged and bucketed and labeled. The bag and the bucket can be found in the westernmost storage section. We dumped the remnants from the sift into Vader.
While sifting, we found a bunch of worms. We think they may be California Red Wrigglers, which are great at breaking down organic matter but not what we intended for the compost bins. We collected them and gave them to Steven to get his worm compost up and running again. We want Alpha to be a primarily hot compost bin, with microbes as the active decomposers. The presence of the worms means that the bin was fairly cool, we’ll report back on more specifics and decisions. We’re still a bit hazy on this whole compost thing, but we produced some great looking stuff!
Plant Progress: Last week (10/19) we planted seeds in the following beds. Apparently, because of the intense heat we’ve been getting, we should have covered the beds with tarps to keep the seeds as moist and as protected as ever. Despite the intense heat we did get some germination action, but not as much as we would have liked. We’re going to try to draw some more of the seedlings to sprout, so yesterday we added tarps supported by wire frames to beds 1, 3, and the small portion of 12 that we planted with sweet mace last week. We’ll keep these tarps on for the next few days and hopefully be Wednesday we’ll see a bit more sprouting and be able to take them off. The tarps are a short-term technique to get the seeds going but once they’ve germinated the little guys need sun, so water-ers keep an eye peeled for germination under the tarps and once you see it picking up then we’ll know to take the tarps off.
Bed 1: We think we saw some of the Rainbow Swiss Chard sprouting, but it’s a little too early to tell for certain. We covered the bed with tarp.
Bed 3: The cabbage in the center of the bed seemed to peaking out, but again too early to tell. We covered the bed.
Bed 3A: No nasturtium action yet.
Bed 12: We didn’t see any of the Sweet Mace Herb from last week, we covered the little patch with tarp to hopefully help it along. The butter crunch lettuce that was planted on October 5th in the bed is doing great, it’ll most likely be good to harvest in a few weeks. The butter head lettuce that we planted right next to it (closer to the compost) at the same time still is showing nothing. We think that the butter head seeds may have been duds, but when we first were getting those guys going we used a green tarp over the butter crunch (which is now doing spectacularly) and black tarp over the butter head (the duds). Maybe the darker tarp killed the butter head? Maybe it’s a coincidence? We dunno. We’re going to wait it out a bit more. Meanwhile, the corner of the bed is still unplanted.
Take-homes: Last week we dispersed seeds to various attendees in small pots. The basil seeds that were dispersed have germinated! and are doing well. The mint that we tried to propagate is showing no known progress.
Hammock!: Thank you to Judy for donating her hammock to the garden! We successfully put it up with the help of Jonathan, Shawn, and Steven and it looks great! Unfortunately it’s still too low/loose to sit in (you’ll hit your butt on the ground). Next week we’ll hopefully get a ladder to scooch it higher up the tree trunk, dig out a small ditch underneath, or tighten the ropes so it doesn’t sag as much. Jonathan’s got handle on it no matter what we decide. It’s set up between the first two trees to the east of the shed.
Suggestions for next week:
Plan a Pizza Night
Figure out what to do with all the pill bugs. Are they horrible pests? Should we try to control them?
Plant int the empty beds (2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
Fill bed 8 with our own compost.
Other suggestions are welcome!