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Volunteer plants
In this gardening season, we’ve had several volunteer plants make their presence known in our teaching garden. The most common have been lettuce, squash, and tomatoes. Volunteer plants are called so because they volunteer to start growing without any planting or sowing by humans. Most likely these are seeds that survived from seasons past, didn’t decompose in the compost, or may have possibly been deposited by birds.
These have been really exciting to find while weeding our garden. Seems to make pulling all the weeds worthwhile when you find an actual plant. Even though our plants are in nice, neat rows, I’ve let the volunteers sprout wherever they please. This is one of our lettuce plants that sprouted from last year’s lettuce crop. Since our lettuce did so terrible this year, I figured it couldn’t hurt letting this one grow (even though it’s in our tomato area).
Another interesting volunteer plant appeared in our middle bin of our compost. A full tomato plant appeared. It has now been transplanted to the proper tomato area and out of harm’s way in the ever-turning compost pile.

Volunteer plants

In this gardening season, we’ve had several volunteer plants make their presence known in our teaching garden. The most common have been lettuce, squash, and tomatoes. Volunteer plants are called so because they volunteer to start growing without any planting or sowing by humans. Most likely these are seeds that survived from seasons past, didn’t decompose in the compost, or may have possibly been deposited by birds.

These have been really exciting to find while weeding our garden. Seems to make pulling all the weeds worthwhile when you find an actual plant. Even though our plants are in nice, neat rows, I’ve let the volunteers sprout wherever they please. This is one of our lettuce plants that sprouted from last year’s lettuce crop. Since our lettuce did so terrible this year, I figured it couldn’t hurt letting this one grow (even though it’s in our tomato area).

Another interesting volunteer plant appeared in our middle bin of our compost. A full tomato plant appeared. It has now been transplanted to the proper tomato area and out of harm’s way in the ever-turning compost pile.

The Governor’s Gardener

Our teaching garden had a big day at Life Adventure Center of the Bluegrass’s Open House on April 10th. A man stopped by the environmental education table I had set up. Our teaching garden pepper and squash seedlings were center stage for all to see. He asked me a little about environmental education and our teaching garden. As I explained our little operation, he happened to mention that he was the “Governor’s Gardener.” I had to ask him to repeat what he had said as I was in disbelief. He even asked how he could help!

The Governor’s Gardener (GG) has already donated 1,000 tulip bulbs to our organization, which were delivered on Friday (3/13). Turns out the GG had a great time at the open house learning about our organization and what we do. So needless to say our teaching garden had a great boost of support in the last few weeks!

If you’d like to learn more about the Governor’s Gardener and the program he helps oversee, please visit http://greenteam.ky.gov/garden.

The afternoon we planted

Yesterday afternoon Cara, Sarah, and I planted our little veggie seedlings in the teaching garden. We ended up with 10 rows of veggies altogether. Some we directly sowed and did not start from seeds. These tend to do better when direct sowed (ds).

 

From left to right we planted in rows

1)      carrots & radish (ds)

2)      mesculin, white chard, & arugula (all ds)

3)      kale & red chard (ds)

4)      cabbage

5)      broccoli

6)      cauliflower

7)      beets

8)      (sickly, sad looking) lettuce

9)      N/A

10)   Onions

11)   Cucumbers

Things we learned

·       Plant half as many seedlings of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumber. We had about half a flat of each of these leftover. We’re keeping some on reserve in case some of our seedlings don’t make it. Otherwise, we will be donating them to our staff garden near our kitchen on our property.

·        Trying to start onions from seed is extremely difficult. We had to scrap all of our “seedling onions.” The onions we planted are the ones that were rescued from our garden earlier this spring (which were planted last fall).

·        Egg cartons are great for starting seeds but you can’t keep them in the carton for very long. We lost of all our cute little squash plants because we didn’t bump them up to a bigger pot fast enough. We will be directly sowing the rest of our squash seedlings next week in hopes of having some squash plants (for Cara and Sarah to eat).

·        Starting lettuce from seed also did not seem to go very well. I couldn’t give up on them so I planted them in one of our open/unused rows. I also seem to have misplaced the other lettuce seeds  I thought we had so if these little guys don’t take, I will have to go buy some more.

Onions and peas

I’ve been slowly cleaning out the education building as most of our seedlings are outside now. I’ve taken all the rest of the seed starting materials including the leftover pro-mix and old flats down to the gardening shed as well. Only the peppers and squash are left inside.

I’ve also moved our new strawberry plants and the onions that were rescued from the garden, back down to the garden. They’re hanging out with the peas here in this picture. They’ll go in next week Tuesday with the rest of the plants.

Even though my feelings for squash haven’t changed much, I am excited for our seedlings! These were planted on 3/20 in a re-purposed fiber egg carton.

Even though my feelings for squash haven’t changed much, I am excited for our seedlings! These were planted on 3/20 in a re-purposed fiber egg carton.

Squash

Now I have to admit if it weren’t for Cara, our garden may have been squash-less this year. I have a dozen or so quart jars full of squash from last year’s CSA experience. I can honestly say that I was squashed out. However, for the good of the garden, I decided we needed squash. Plus, Cara told me how much she liked squash. And you’ll soon find out what Cara thinks, happens 99.99% of the time. And that’s okay because she knows 99.99% more about gardening than me.

So I planted squash seeds today in the reused fibrous egg cartons. I used the same pro-mix and capping mix as before. I also filled them with pro-mix the day before planting and watered them well before planting. Always a must if you’re starting your own seeds.

Many hands make light work

I met with Cara and Sarah today at lunch. We’ve decided to create a gardening committee. It’ll be nice to have extra helping hands. Cara suggested directly sowing the radishes but starting squash indoors soon.

It’s okay to ask others for help! I’ve found that even buying gardening books or reading articles online that talking to actual people that have gardening experience far outweighs these other sources of information.