Garden Grit: Field to Fork CSA in Palisade, Colorado, discusses watering & pest control
THE GARDEN GRIT
Free Press Opinion Columnist
FIND FIELD TO FORK CSA
Field to Fork CSA hosts a produce stand at Downtown Grand Junction’s farmers market every Thursday. The stand is located at Third and Main streets near Pablo’s Pizza.
When it doesn’t rain enough, turn on the spigot. Veggies need water to produce, so watering the garden correctly is crucial in the hot summer.
Since we live in the West, water conservation is very important. Here are a few tips to help your garden grow during the hot month of July.
Water must go down, down, down to encourage deep roots and get away from the hot soil surface. The deeper the roots, the less watering down the road. I also encourage deep watering for root vegetables.
Many times I talk with excellent gardeners who comment they can not grow carrots. The trick is to amend the soil and to water very deeply so the roots dive down. Watering is important, but so is the time between; let your soil dry and watch your garden for an “indicator” plant. An indicator is the first plant to wilt as the garden becomes dry. You’ll always know to water when that particular plant has droopy leaves. The first is usually a squash, cucumber or melon because the big leaves lose lots of moisture fast. Water early in the morning so that the foliage will dry early and quickly to minimize disease risk.
The gardening principle here is to avoid adding to the length of time that the leaves stay wet because many diseases need moisture to thrive. Do what you can to keep water in the ground. In our dry climate we encourage using an organic mulch such as wheat straw, finely ground bark, pine needles, or chopped-up leaves; it is a welcome barrier between the moist soil and the hot sun. A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch makes a huge difference in hot weather, acting as shade to hold in moisture and cool plant roots. Without mulch, the intense sun bakes the soil — and you end up watering the garden even more.
BUG & PEST CONTROL
Customers are always curious to know if we grow squash and have squash bugs. We answer “yes” to both questions.
It is important to have a pest and bug control plan in place before the pest arrives. We use a few different methods to control squash bugs and a series of steps to control the squash bug and many other bugs.
Initially we use companion planting — radishes with our squash — so the squash bug gets confused and can not find its food; squash bugs hate radishes.
Once we see a squash bug we know we have a problem. Then we initially use a neem oil spray that helps limit eggs hatching. Neem is great for fungal problems, plus it is good for the soil and plant health.
Whenever we spray our plants we also use a fish emulsion-binding agent that fertilizes at the same time. The biggest step to fighting bugs is plant health, and your plants need vitamins just like we do, so fertilizing is very important.
Once we see little gray baby squash bugs, we know they will quickly turn into adults. Next we use a certified organic spray called Pyganic. It is a plant extract from the plant called pyrethrin.
Using these methods we usually can control the bugs long enough to have some great summer and winter squash.
It is very important to also rotate your squash and never plant in the same place year after year. It will turn into a squash bug breeding ground and will cause problems for everyone.
We use organic practices because we feel it is what is best for the farm, the consumer and our personal health. We have our official organic inspection in August, and we can’t wait to be serving certified organic produce to Mesa County.
During July, take some time to separate your perennials and you will have more blossoms next year! Keep on the weeds. We are so close to enjoying the fruits of our labor!
Jessica Washkowiak is co-owner and operator of Field to Fork CSA, an organic farm in Palisade, Colo. As a gardener in western Colorado, she aims to educate locals about how to make a garden thrive in Grand Valley’s desert climate. Please ask questions and share your tips as well by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and weekly farm updates, visit http://www.fieldtoforkcsa.com or find it on Facebook.
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