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Pretty peppers

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Thank you

Thank you!

These grass clippings are free of all non-organic chemicals and were donated by the garden’s good friend Rebecca. (Thanks again!) Mulch should be laid at least three inches thick and prevents weeds, conserves water, and improves the quality of the soil.

Much more mulch is still needed!

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Mulch Appreciated

While we’ve been preoccupied with planting, harvesting, aphids, market, and composting (worm and otherwise,) a problem has been slowly creeping up on us, fed by the heat and the dripline (which is sometimes left on too long) spreading it’s pernicious tendrils up and down the rows.

Weeds.

Weeds. It seems as though we just weeded, and yet there are weeds. A quick search for organic weed control methods turned up some interesting results (apparently boiling water works really well for grass in driveway cracks) but almost all mentioned one method in particular- mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch.

So the garden is in need of organic mulch materials. Grass clippings, straw, cardboard, lawn detritus, (I am even considering shredded paper) as long as it is not sprayed with toxic chemicals (Herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers). If you bag your clippings and don’t spray your lawn, let us know, and we’ll be very grateful to come pick them up and give them a good home.

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Growth

It’s strange how quickly things change in the garden. The July garden was not the same as the June garden, and the August garden is not the same as the July garden. Even this Monday’s garden is not the same as last Friday’s garden.

Since we are out there nearly every day, the changes don’t seem so dramatic. It’s only when I sort through the pictures that I can see the difference.

Remember our little bean sprout? Thirty-five days later, it’s a bush bean proper.

And the tiny tomatillo plant from the blooms post? Now it’s one of the largest plants in the garden.

In the original (late June) pictures of our sign for the “about” page, you can see the freshly hoed and planted rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons. By late July, the vines were huge, and the flowers we planted to attract beneficial insects were in bloom as well.

Plants are magical.

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Melons on the vine

Crimson sweet

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Aphid Update

Dead Aphids

The soap spray (we used liquid Dr. Bronner’s organic castille soap after the first day) is quite effective, and doesn’t seem to bother the plants. Above you can see the blacked, dead remains of a once-thriving aphid colony on a brussel sprout leaf.

Unfortunately, the aphids were multiplying faster than we could spray them, which with a kitchen spray bottle and five long rows of brassicas to spray is very tedious and frustrating work.

(A friend recently informed me that aphids can be BORN PREGNANT, since they reproduce parthenogenically. They certainly do breed at an alarming rate)

The brussel sprout (left) and purple cabbage (right) below are lamentably completely overrun by aphids.

Infested Brussels Overrun Purple Cabbage

There was still hope, however.

Ladybugs for Sale Another organic method of pest control was still available to us. Natural predators. Rebecca picked up a plastic container of 1000 ladybugs for us at Zamzows. We released them after our first night at market.

Ladybugst

We were concerned about them all flying away, and while not all of them stuck around, I see four or five a day as I putter around the garden. I was particularly excited to find the ladybug larva in the image below on a brussels leaf.

Ladybug Larva on a Brussles Sprout

Between the ladybugs, the occasional spray with cold water from the hose, and a bi- to tri-weekly soap treatment (focusing mainly on the actual edible sprouts themselves, which bud off of the central stalk) the aphids are very nearly under control. While only three very large brussels plants made it through, we should get some sprouts off of them and are better equipped to deal with possible aphids on the new flat of brassicas Sarah picked up from Beth this week. (We planted some broccoli and cabbage this morning.)

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Caldwell Farmer’s Market (Our first two weeks)

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I am pleased to report that we have two successful visits to the farmer’s market under our belts! The picture above was taken by a helpful fellow vendor at our first farmer’s market. After some, challenges, with the canopy (Caldwell Farmer’s Market has very strict regulations regarding appearance. Canopies must be white or green, no blue, and unfortunately just a few days before the college had sold all of it’s green canopies at the yard sale and kept only the blue) (luckily after calling several rental companies and sporting goods stores we were able to borrow a green cover from the market administration) we were off.

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We were unprepared for exactly how much lettuce was in our three rows of lettuce mix. Once washed it filled well over thirty bags- seven or so are pictured above, the other 23+ spent market day in the cooler. We sold most of our produce that first day, and made a decent amount of profit, considering it was our first day. (Initial estimates were about twenty dollars or so after subtracting the cost of materials and the market fee. Later, when Amanda counted up the cashbox, she told us we made much more.)

Customers and sometimes other vendors approached us and told us some wonderful stories about their breakfasts, gardens, kitchens, families, whatever. (One gentleman told us in great detail about his morning smoothie, which contained among other things, highly nutritious but sometimes-difficult-to-love kale). A few people were curious to know what to do with or how to cook some of our produce- questions that despite working for a food service and a catering company I wasn’t fully prepared to answer. I did my research later on sorrel, a tangy leafy herb reminiscent of rhubarb, and found that is most associated with sorrel soup. (Which was delicious, by the way. Some of the leftovers from market found their way into my roommate’s newly purchased stew pot)

By the next Wednesday we were Farmer’s Market Experts and harvested, bundled, and priced much less produce with considerably less stress and set up in no time. This time we nearly sold out of everything (!) pushing our total market profits to over 100$, doubling our budget. (Which was no longer as desperately necessary thanks to the donation of a hoe by our beloved benefactor Beth and ten tomato cages by another friend and organic grower, Bart.)

Below are pictures of our second, streamlined booth, featuring our walla-walla sweet onions.

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The past two weeks we have been absent from the market, choosing to focus on and send our produce to the Idaho Green Expo, but we’re looking forward to a comeback next Wednesday.

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