Sometimes when you’re sowing seeds in the greenhouse you accidentally put 2 seeds in one cell. This happened a lot (at least to me) in early September when Sarah and I were sowing the winter greens. We reaped what we sowed on Wednesday, when we walked through some rows of collards, kale, and cabbage, and picked out any doubles we came across. Many of them were growing right on top of each other. The ones we picked went into the compost, and the ones we left now have plenty of room to grow!
This week, I have spent each morning at UGArden and have completed lots of different tasks. Today, I, along with the volunteers, set out the hoops in one plot that hold the white fabric that protects the plants from frost. Although it isn’t that cold yet, it is good to be prepared in case the cold weather comes when we aren’t prepared. It was also nice to talk with the volunteers about their time at UGA and what brought them to UGArden. They thought the farm and our crops were so cool and were happy to learn about what we do!
At UGArden we have an area dedicated to shiitake mushrooms. They like the cold, so they have recently started fruiting since the fall weather has rolled in. They are grown out of logs cut from UGA property that are inoculated and sealed with wax to allow the fungus to take over the log. Last semester, I got to be part of the process with Dr. Hartel and now this semester, I am helping harvest those same logs. I love mushrooms, and unfortunately the slugs do too.
Today, some volunteers and I took on the weeds that were growing in the 5 collard rows planted about a month ago. Luckily, the soil in those particular plots is extremely soft and easy to work with. The grass and other weeds popped out with ease. The collards are coming in nicely but still have a few more weeks before they’ll be ready to harvest for Campus Kitchen’s Turkey Palooza!
I love that at UGArden I get to learn things hands on. Drip irrigation has always blown my mind, but I have finally mostly figured it out, I think. It is such an ingenious and lazy way to water your crops while also being extremely effective. I am hoping to have my own garden ready for it by the spring!
Today, Sarah and I fertilized the beds in the high tunnel and used the BCX to mix it in. Then we laid out the lay-flat drip tube and I stapled it in so that it would be ready for next week when we put the header line together and get it ready to be planted!
Down by the lower barn in the raised beds a feast is taking place. Black swallowtail caterpillars have rained down on the poor fennel and are making quick work of it. These lovely caterpillars are fattening themselves up as they prepare to form their chrysalises and eventually transform into a black winged butterfly with yellow and blue outlining the bottoms of the wings. If you happen upon one of these beautifully patterned beasts, you may be able to persuade them to shoot their orange horns out at you if you lightly poke them in the back.
This morning I found myself standing in the middle of a plot of sweet potato vines, but instead of digging underground for the pink potatoes, I was carefully stepping over vines to find the perfect leaves. They say you learn something new everyday, and today that thing was that not only can you eat the leaves off the vine, but they’re actually good! They’re a lot like spinach, and I am excited to try them in a salad or stir fry. Some of the caterpillars like them too! It makes me wonder how many other sources of food we have right under our noses, but are too oblivious to realize their value.
This was my delicious lunch yesterday consisting of sautéed shiitakes with garlic and spinach and roasted okra. The mushrooms and okra were picked that morning! Recently, the garden has been abundant with okra, mushrooms, radishes, beans, watermelons, muscadines, eggplant, and more… Yummy.
Today Anna and I installed the new irrigation in the high tunnel. The tubing we put in is much thinner than the regular irrigation we use because seeds that are directly sowed seem to like it better. We also went to war with numerous ant piles and got a few bites in the process. Emma Kate came down towards the end and helped us weed the Bermuda grass that has been creeping into the high tunnel. This plot will soon be ready to plant!
My favorite area on the farm is between the rows of muscadines. Picking muscadines bring back memories from my childhood from my grandparents’ house picking and eating them and making jelly. At UGArden we have several varieties, but my favorites are the great big golden ones. Apparently the wasps like them too, because they’ll hide among the bunches and sting you if you aren’t careful.