With summer in full swing, the tomato plants at the COFGA garden are growing larger and larger! As tomatoes become bigger, it is important to keep them off the ground so they can stay clean and avoid diseases. In addition, it is much easier to harvest tomatoes that are grown vertically. To prevent the tomatoes from growing on the ground, we decided to support them with a trellis.
The trellis provides a string for the tomatoes to grow upwards around. To set up the trellis, we installed three pairs of large wooden stakes about 25 feet from each other. On top of the stakes we strung a 50 foot wire. Above each tomato plant, we tied a piece of biodegradable garden twine to the wire and wound the loose end of this twine around the stem of the small tomato plant. This way, the tomato plant will grow up and around the twine and stay off the ground. Hopefully, this will keep our tomatoes happy and healthy for the summer!
This week at the garden, we noticed that a few of our broccoli plants bloomed much earlier than they should have. Broccoli plants are very temperature sensitive and prefer 65-80 degree weather, so we assume that the hot temps we’ve had up on runnals hill caused their heads to begin developing. This is called “bolting.” The plants that bolt will produce very little broccoli and be more mealy than normal, so we wanted to find a way to stop the rest of our broccoli from blooming.
To solve this, we decided to experiment with row covers! Although row covers are usually used for protecting against the frost and insects, they also effectively reduce the intensity of the sun. Hopefully, they will prevent our broccoli from blooming too fast!
In addition, we noticed that there are a few nibbles on the leaves of the broccoli plants, so we’re hoping that the row covers will also prevent more pests from spreading to the broccoli and other brassicas.
On Saturday, we visited a permaculture project, working with trees (mostly berry and nut) and perennial plants. This is an awesome farm! One main concept of the land is planting on swales, which are dug “ditches” along an elevation contour. These swales prevent from dirt being eroded from the fields by providing area for the water to slow. The farmer we visited takes some inspiration from Ben Falk’s farm and swale project. If you want to learn more, here is a youtube link to his description of the swales.
It seems that our gardens have been full of aphids this season, and as a result of that, we’ve learned a lot!
Our experience with aphids started when we were growing seedlings in the Olin Greenhouse, and they had managed to feast on our eggplants and some of our peppers! Now, we are working on our eggplants, which still have a few aphids on them (though much less than before!). Continue reading