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Earthworms and Empires

Heather here.

Our June 24th class went extremely well.

First we took people through sign-in, dropping off planting records, reminding them to pick up a hand-out on planting dates/time-frame of when to plant each vegetable,  and a hand-out on plant spacing.

We reminded people of our fall crops/crop rotation/cover crop class on July 15th, and our canning class on July 18th.

Phew. There’s a lot going on.

After the introduction we opened the floor for questions, and took people around the classroom garden. Using the garden as a teaching tool, for ourselves and others, is instrumental. We can take people through and they are able to compare what’s going on here to their own gardens at home. It stirs the memory and brings up more questions and thoughts as well. It’s also a great way to point out all the things you need to do in your garden, and do them with the group, to bring it home to people what “Garden Chores” are needed right now.

For instance, we started in the squash bed. The vines were starting to become jungle-esque, and the different growth habits of winter and summer squash were apparent at this stage. It reminded people why we planted the winter squash on the edge, and also allowed us to demonstrate “training” the vines–basically, picking up and then setting down the unruly vines in the direction you want them to grow in–in this case, outwards across the lawn, not into the summer squash.

Sometimes people are afraid to handle their plants for fear of breaking them, so seeing all the rootlets along the squash stems where they hit the ground, and how easy it is to just lift and move, assuage people’s fears of “breaking” the plant.

We demonstrated tying trellis tightly, and correcting trellis woven too loose. Makes a big difference for all the weight of the plants.

Looked at potato beetle larvae, and demonstrated walking around, checking out your plants,  examining the threshold.

We scooted along the tomato bed asking if people understood pruning their tomatoes and leaving the first 12 inches of space bare. We stood where my former broccoli once was and talked about what I would plant in that bed next–Not broccoli.

We harvested garlic–a big thing. People were worried about ruining their garlic and wanted to dry it properly.  It’s important to loosen the soil a bit with a fork when the bottom leaves of the garlic have yellowed and browned. Remember to snap off the scapes–the curling top of the garlic plant with a flower-like bulb on the tip. Snap this off at the base and chop up small for soups and salads.

 

Group photo of morning class June 24th in Abingdon, VA

We looked at the wash bins, and demonstrated basic first rinse, second rinse–bleach the tubs at your produce washing station prior to harvest, fill both bins with water.

Wash produce with one bin designated as the first rinse, scrubbing or swirling the plant around in the water, leaving the product sit so insects can drown and sink to the bottom, and transfer product to second rinse, where any remaining particles of soil, mud, insects, and so on, are clinging to the plant. Pick off any yellow-y leaves or plants that look deformed/maimed in some way.

 

Abingdon, VA

 

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