I have two clarifications to that last email. First, the workday I listed is during the week. We have some retirees and others who have volunteer time at their place of work, so I figured we can get a jump on the board replacement even if we just have a few folks show for the first workday of the year. For those of you that are handy with tools, I will reiterate that replacing the boards is a relatively easy process once you have the boards on site. The hardest part is removing the soil from the inside edge of the boards – but generally that can be done with a shovel in under 30 minutes. If you want to see what your plot should look like just prior to having the boards replaced, please have a look at R.B.’s plot – #30. If you can prep your plot to look like that, it will make it easy to knock out the board replacement. That process will help with the controlling the Bermuda grass as well (the runners creep in from the sides). See photo below.
The second question that has come up is that a few people have mentioned that their check hasn’t been cashed. Those that sent me checks early in the process (thank you!) were sent with my own check to EnRichmond’s address listed on their website’s deposit form. I noticed that my own check hadn’t been cashed, I decided to visit them last week to make sure that my process was ok. As it turns out, the address on the deposit form is old, but they still get the checks from that location (The Landmark) but the folks at the Landmark are sometimes a little slow to notify EnRichmond that they have mail there… so that explains why they didn’t cash the first round of checks as of last week. With the second round of checks, I hand delivered them during my lunch visit, so I expect those to move much faster. Any checks received later than last week will either be dropped in the lockbox or sent to the new location.
I just wanted to send out a short welcome to our new and returning gardeners this year. Here are a few tips for the winter:
Winter is a great time for tidying up your garden if you haven’t already. Clearing off debris is a key method of preventing disease especially if you noticed symptoms on your plants last year. There are a number of insect pests that overwinter in the top layers of leaf litter/detritus. There are several preventative measures of dealing with overwintering pests – removal and tilling (or turning it over by hand in our case). Since we are 100% organic, I would recommend that gardeners completely remove any known infested plant remains from the garden area entirely (i.e. please do not compost diseased/infected/infested plants) as leaving them on or around the premises is just spreading the pain to the rest of the garden.
I will use the example of the notorious asparagus beetle as an example because I have noted several gardens have nascent asparagus beds (but no beetles yet, thank goodness!). Generally, the asparagus beetle overwinters in the old stalks of the plant just below the soil surface so they are ready to infest new stalks as they emerge in the early spring. That makes it important to remove the old dead and dying asparagus stalks at the end of the year pretty critical, even if you don’t have signs of beetles. If you do happen to get an infestation, remove the new infected growth stalks several inches down from soil level and take them (preferably bagged) from the premises (they look like shepherd’s crooks) and make sure that any visible beetles get squished that are feasting on healthy stalks.
So many people have had squash bug issues at our garden that I generally don’t recommend growing squash or cucumbers for new gardeners because if several gardeners leave their plot alone until late spring, the beetles will emerge from last year’s squash and just crawl or fly over a few feet to the new squash plants. There are lots of other pests that can be managed effectively by turning the top few inches of soil over. In addition to pest and weed control, beneficial microbes and plants benefit from the extra aeration.
Ideally, when you turn the top few inches of soil over, you should add some organic matter to your soil at the same time. Dead tree leaves added in late winter will be broken down by May if you turn them in with the soil. Keep in mind that leaves are super for soil tilth, but you will need a nitrogen source too. I use whatever nitrogen source I can get my hands on, including well-aged manure, my own kitchen compost, organic fertilizers and our garden-purchased garden compost.
As I mentioned above, turning over the top inch or two of soil also kills emergent weeds. It’s just a really good thing to do in the Fall and early spring. I highly recommend a thorough weeding and turning over the first few inches of soil for the reasons mentioned above.