It is still early in the season, but we are experimenting with use of different types of mulch (spent hay and colored plastic mulch) to maximize production of the produce - especially tomatoes and peppers. We are also experimenting with drip irrigation in both gardens, but with the extensive rain recently, this has not been widely used yet.
Another major success is having children in the garden to learn about how the different veggies grow. They get to harvest veggies, plant new seeds, learn about composting and then have an opportunity to taste the veggies they just picked.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Weather has been a major challenge this year. Significant temperature swings and rain delayed planting and growth of many of our crops. Significant hail storms did damage many of the 200 newly planted peppers and tomatoes in the main garden. Early blight has been a problem with some tomato plants. We are now experiencing more crops being harvested, but some of our succession planting in raised beds in the main garden has been impacted. At the Coopers Cove Extension Garden, we have been been able to accommodate some of these challenges more readily because of it being a large field garden.
Since these are organic gardens, pest control is an ongoing issue - especially with the Colorado potato beetle.
How are you working to overcome them?
We continue to monitor the plant for weather damage and treat/support them as we can. For pest control, we hand pick the bugs off and use organic insecticides (neem oil and spinosad) as needed. For early blight, we are using copper fungicide and cutting off damaged areas. We will be trying the spinosad to control the Mexican bean beetles sand Japanese beetles if they become a significant issue.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
Use of red plastic under tomatoes and silver plastic under peppers appears to be having a positive impact on the amount of produce developing at this point. Spinosad proved to be very effective in controlling the Colorado potato beetle which was also finding its way to tomato plants in the garden.