Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Triumphs and Disasters in Home Gardening from the Staff at CT NOFA

Executive Director, Eileen Hochberg, discusses fighting worms for her brussels sprouts!
"This year for the first time ever absolutely everything in my vegetable garden was started from seed - organic seed of course. Being a lover of all brassicas, most notably kale,
  I just had to take on another favorite, the biggest brassica challenge of all - brussels sprouts. In so doing I now realize that successfully growing brussels is a nearly year long endeavor. Having planted the seeds inside in February, I am still nurturing the plants and still fighting the cabbage worms, as I hear the brussels will improve with frost and can be left growing until November. I have to add that cabbage worms have been my biggest trial and tribulation of the season, and since the garden is filled with brassicas that has meant a real fight to determine who gets to the kale, broccoli...and brussels....first. Never again will I plant without row cover in the spring to ward off the army of cross-striped cabbage worms that followed the green cabbage worms and then the green cabbage worms that followed the cross-striped!" 

CT NOFA's bookkeeper Rita shares her experience with her gorgeous peach tree
"The peach tree is four years old and has been fertilized with compost and mulched with wood chips each year.  No chemical sprays have been used.  The tree is a dwarf and is approximately 7 feet tall.  I watch for peach borer activity and monitor the trees and berries regularly all year.  The biggest problem has been too many blossoms resulting in too many peaches and not enough early selective removal of blossoms/immature fruit.  One branch broke this year under the weight of too much heavy fruit. I hope the tree has not suffered from overproduction. The fruit was relatively large and relatively unblemished resulting in fresh peaches, jam and peach crisp.Yum!"

CT NOFA Program and Event Manager Stephanie explains what she will do to improve her disastrous garden for next spring:
"My family grows on a 35'x 10' size plot on the abandoned farmland behind our house. My home garden this year was just as described, a disaster. Weeds overran my entire plot, woodchucks feasted on almost every edible vegetable due to decrepit fencing, and I suspect we had a few cases of plant disease. Thanks to attending all of our On-Farm workshops over the summer I have learned many new skills and techniques to
weeds on weeds
 consider when planning out next year's garden. For starters I plan on laying down cardboard and newspaper over the entire plot then cover with soil to prevent weeds. Also I will change my irrigation techniques and routine; I learned from our workshop on Plant Disease that you should always water at the plant's base, never work in the garden when the plants are damp to prevent disease, and to water in the early morning. I also plan on organizing my plants in accordance with the principles of permaculture. I have just begun an introduction to bee keeping course, so hopefully by spring time I will have the pollinators buzzing!"
Linda Goldsmith, CT NOFA's marketing, design, and fundraising manager believes in good bacteria as a foundation.
"I believe good bacteria is the foundation to personal health as well as soil health. This years garden started with cow manure a year ago in the fall of 2012. A farmer down the street has cows. I made new friends and apple crisp for a trade with them for their manure. When spring started I was ready with seeds. My summer squash won first place at the Harwinton Fair this past weekend from the help of it growing on the fence without a blemish and beautiful symmetry. This fall I plan to plant hairy vetch to add more nutrients and find some horse manure from the other side of town where it is up for grabs to continue with the great organisms of biodiversity. Now that all sounds good, but the garden was planted in the early spring and left to its own devises. I find finding the proper time of harvesting is not on my schedule but the plants unfortunately. And if I put a bit more time in its care throughout the summer weeding, thinning, watering and nurturing I would have more reward. Let's see if I can do that as I continue to build up good soil as a foundation!"


  1. Nice post! so many fascinating plants! I don't know where to start with my comments, because so many of your plants are totally different than what I have in my garden--and I'm fascinated with them all! I'm going to have to stop by your blog more often. I'm rearranging my blog feed lately, and I will add you to the list. I especially LOVED the first shot showing all the foliage and cacti together!

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