Performing a Scouting report every two weeks is a necessary function to mitigate the risk of pests, and weeds. Damage of the plants, particular bugs found on the plants and any other noteworthy information is critical to mention in these reports.
It has been amazing to watch the progression of the different plants from mid May up until this point. The fruits of our labor are able to be enjoyed. Using physical labor to put together the growing boxes in the hoop house, and watching the plants flourish. Watching the little baby plants grow up almost brings a tear to my eye. Nurturing these plants with love and care makes the food taste even better.
We are excited to announce that Eden Hall Farm will be offering an 8-week produce share starting September 15th! All graduate students at Chatham University will be eligible to apply, but space is limited. The share will be available to students through a “work and pay” system: students will pay a small fee ($50) and commit to working on the Eden Hall Farm for a total of 6 hours over the course of the fall semester. Stay tuned for more details!
Another great season of Work and Pick has begun at Eden Hall! Every Wednesday night an AMAZING group of volunteers have been coming up to help us around the farm. Above you can see a few of our volunteers this past week weeding around the perimeter of our movable high tunnel! With so many extra hands, tedious tasks like this take no time.
As half of our crew weeded, the other half filled several wheelbarrows full of leaf mulch and layered it around the potatoes. Why leaf mulch? Mulching helps insulate the soil against heat while also retaining moisture. It will be exciting to watch the potatoes grow as the Work and Pick season continues.
The Progression of the hoop house: Starting by making a level area for the beds, then filling with them with topsoil and compost. Planting the ginger coupled with okra was the next step, and finally finishing the newly transplanted plants with the organic fertilizer to help mitigate the transplant shock.
I want to take a second to highlight the structures that have made our first year of full season extension here at Eden Hall Farm possible. We were able to grow this full past year, thanks to the foundation and support of our four greenhouses. They have weathered wind and rain and withstood the test of time.
Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes and can range from fairly inexpensive to highly designed structures. The goal and use of a greenhouse for season extension is multi-fold.
The benefits include:
- Providing extended growing seasons
- Protecting crops from damaging weather
- Providing more optimal conditions for a better quality and higher yield harvest
- Protecting against disease, insects and predators
- Providing extended work to laborers
- Providing extended marketing season to growers
On our farm, we have four different types of greenhouses.
The first greenhouse is our heated glass greenhouse. This greenhouse is used by students for class work and experiments, but is also vital to our farm-to-institution functioning. We used the glass greenhouse warmth this past winter to start and grow seeds and its adjoining building as our harvest wash room.
The second greenhouse is our Solar High Tunnel. This greenhouse is heated by solar energy and has been used the most throughout this past winter to grow our hardy greens, such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, tatsoi, Red Sail and Rhazes lettuce and is also home to our beets, peppers, and carrots. The Solar High Tunnel is equipped with sliding seeding tables that now hold several trays and gutters of new seedlings. It is also now home to our baby Praying Mantises.
The third greenhouse is our Moveable High Tunnel. This greenhouse is currently growing only kale and Swiss chard, but is being prepped to start production for upcoming summer plans. What is unique about this greenhouse is the ability to slide the entire structure on a set of runners to cover a completely new plot of soil. This is useful for crop rotation and soil preservation.
The fourth greenhouse is our Hoop House. This simple structure is one of the more inexpensive designs, but still provides all of the benefits of season extension listed above. This hoop house was not used through this past winter, but has plans to be tilled and prepared for our new ginger crop.
The diversity at Eden Hall Farm does not stop at its crops (both plants and humans!), but includes its structures as well!
Our Solar High Tunnel has approximately 50 new tenants who made their debut to this world Sunday (under the watchful guardianship of Tony’s son), and were released into the “wild” of our Eden Hall High Tunnel yesterday.
Praying Mantises are utilized as a means of organic pest management. They dine both day and night on many tasty insects. When young, the Mantises eat soft bodied insects like aphids, leafhoppers, mosquitos, and caterpillars, and graduate to larger grasshoppers, crickets and beetles as they age. They are beneficial to the greenhouse as their prey often find prey in our tasty crops.
Our team of baby Mantises was released directly onto our growing Red Sail lettuce, Kale, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi and Spinach.
We hope to observe as they grow and thrive in this environment, though it will be somewhat of an experiment to see how many stay, and how many travel elsewhere once the temperatures rise and the High Tunnel walls start to open and close.
How did Praying Mantises get their name?
(According to Rodale’s Organic Life):
“When lying in ambush for prey, all mantises strike the same ‘prayerful’ posture of folded front legs held tight to the body. They use their back and middle legs to grasp a twig or stem. When an insect comes into reach, the mantis strikes out, impales, and holds the prey with its spiny, or toothed, front legs. The strike occurs in the blink of an eye. A Carolina mantis can actually strike twice before a housefly can open its wings to attempt an escape.”
After their ceremonial send-off by R. Kelly, we moved along in the Solar High Tunnel to seed some Claytonia micro greens and a few experimental pepper seeds.