Earthworms were the topic this morning at the Farm. As good as our soil may be, it will only get better with worms working it 24-7. One organic farmer has bought earthworm eggs…. Amazing! Put ‘em in the ground like you would a seed… and soon the little critters will hatch and do their thing. They drill tunnels that break up hardpan and help soak up a drenching rainfall. Each worm generates its weight in castings in a 24 hour period – good for balancing the ph in your soil. And, supposedly, earthworms can churn out 15 tons of worm castings per acre in one year! That outta help! (3/19/11)
A couple of Farmers have begun to trim the rye grass growing next to their plots. It makes great mulch and it’s there for the picking! The advice is to spread it thinly – it will decompose and help loosen the soil for drainage. And we could all use a little more nitrogen in our plots! (3/16/11)
Several plot-neighbors have decided to share plot-walks between their plots. Half a foot on my plot line next to half a foot on your plot line gives us both a one foot walkway. Brilliant! (3/17/11)
Our walkways are turning a gorgeous green on St. Patrick’s Day. Nothing like some good winter rye grass to put a glistening green glow on a morning at the Farm! Once the rye grass starts to fade to brown, the clover seed already planted under it will begin to germinate. Nice planning by Valley Crest to keep our walkways looking good. (3/17/11)
We have some mighty fine plot-art and sculptures at the Farm. But special kudos must go to our first “scarecrow” – her name is Gerianna – the white hair gives away the source of her name (geriatric!). After she went up, the proud owners tipped a glass to her and then paid homage to the powers that be that Ms. Gerianna will really keep those nasty black crows away. One Farmer swears these crows are perched in the trees laughing amongst themselves as we humans toil away cultivating a “pantry full of crow food”. Please, Ms. Gerianna, Please …. Please …. Please do your thing for all of us! (3/14/11)
Good Day Farmers,
This is our third monthly newsletter and we are looking for an Editor. If you would like to become a critical part of the new organization and and have time each month to organize a newsletter, please contact me:
Blake Caldwell (598-5365 or 404-964-8409) .
Saturday, February 5th (Rain date Feb 12th )
Music at 1:30
Remarks at 2:00 PM
In the Garden – McWhorter Road
Refreshments by Cha Bella
Hester and Zipperer and Olde Savannah Gardens
will have vegetable plants for sale
Schedule of Events:
People have been asking so I thought it worthwhile to write this for those of you who are interested. After some remarks from our VIPs we will proceed to the drawing. There will be separate drawings for organic and non-organic plots. Gardeners will line up with those renting 2 plots in front. You will pull a flag with a plot number from the bucket and we will record it in our data base. After everyone has drawn a flag we will open the gates (with fanfare) and all gardeners will enter to find their plots. Paid members who did not draw(are absent from the opening) will have their plot flag drawn by a third party – ideally a local dignitary I can persuade to help us.
For gardeners who pay on the day of the opening: We will have a separate drawing after the pre-paid gardeners and most likely from a different garden quadrant. Questions and comments always welcome.
Lots of Work Parties:
The Farm as a Work in Progress Over the past month there have been many opportunities when our farmers have come out to lend a hand. So much Gravel to Rake!
We have a beekeeper for the Farm. Mark Bradle who is active in the local chapter of the GA Beekeepers Association and the beekeeper at the Cha Bella organic garden has bees on order for our farm. They should be installed in April and will be located in the back left corner of the garden. Mark has agreed to do educational programs about the bees.
Children’s Garden Update:
Planting seeds (figuratively) is our goal while waiting for the optimum soil temperatures and some gentle sunshine. We are sowing seeds. Our hope for the Children’s Garden area, adults and children together, will discover and produce a new passion for the process of growing vegetables. We are in the business of fertilizing hearts and minds.
On Saturday we are expecting to meet and greet the Moms and children that have signed up to participate in our pilot project. A donation from the Green Thumb Garden Club has enabled me to provide a wonderful publication with lovely illustrations and practical instructions for visualizing the development of a tiny seed. Also purchased, are a variety of seeds that prefer the coolness of very early spring. They include: spinach, radishes, lettuce, carrots, herbs, and sunflowers for fun and fancy. This donation insures a large enough plot area to plant for an abundance of learning and enjoyment. We hope to welcome more children between the ages of 4 and 8 years of age. We have 3 volunteers who will be helping on “planting day” in the near future. See you at the farm; it has taken shape and structure. Our children are the future gate keepers for the Garden.
Pat Barry, Children’s Coordinator
Organic Gardeners Corner:
“They aren’t here for their beauty or as a cash crop – they are a key pest control strategy down on the organic farm.”
They’re talking sunflowers – wild sunflowers to be more specific. The following article is from The New York Times dated November 29, 2010, entitled, Farmers Find Organic Arsenal to Wage War on Pests. Mark Van Horn is the director of the student farm at the University of California. They have planted wild sunflowers around the edge of a field of tomatoes and sweet corn.
The article reads as follows:
Research here on wild sunflowers, he says, shows they are home to lady beetles and parasitic wasps, which are good bugs that kill bad bugs. “The sunflowers help us provide a bed-and-breakfast for beneficial insects and keep them going year round,” he said. “And native sunflowers are a lot better at it than domestic. There’s a lot more insect biodiversity in wild sunflowers.” …there’s a growing understanding among organic farmers of ways to harness natural systems as part of what is called integrated pest management.
Natural enemies are key to the organic approach. Eric Brennan is the lone full-time organic researcher for the Agriculture Department, and he works in the Salinas Valley, the so-called salad bowl of America, where some 80 percent of the country gets its salad greens. One of the most difficult pests is the lettuce aphid.
The treatment of choice for commercial organic lettuce is to plant an ornamental flower called alyssum among lettuce beds, taking up 5 to 10 percent of the total field. Hoverflies live in the alyssum and need a source of aphids to feed their young, so they lay their eggs in the lettuce. When they hatch, the larvae start preying on the aphids.
“If you were an aphid on a head of lettuce, a hoverfly larva would be a nightmare,” said Dr. Brennan. “They are voracious eaters of aphids. One larva per plant will control the aphids.” Dr. Brennan is studying the most effective configuration of lettuce and alyssum beds.
Organic researchers are also studying the role of soil fertility in pest control. Some studies show nutrient-rich soil may enhance the plant’s immune system and increase natural resistance to insects and pests, or provide a home to natural enemies. Organic soil in potato fields that Dr. Crowder studied, for example, has higher levels of a fungus that kills potato beetle larva than conventional fields.
REMINDER: If you have not ordered yet, but are interested in having access to compost (the same that Bethesda uses) the price will be $50.00 a yard. Our plots are 10′ wide by 20′ long. You might want between 1″ to 4″ of compost. Here is a website to help you calculate how much. http://yardscut.com/how-much-dirt.htm Example: 10’x20′ at 4″ would be 2.5 cubic yards, at $50.00 a yard = $125.00. If you would like to have the compost spread on your plot for you, there will be an additional fee – details to follow.
For orders, email me,– email@example.com You’re welcome to call me if you have questions. 349-2370 or 655-7716
Janet Waldie – Organic Gardeners Corner Coordinator
Capital Fund Update:
The construction of the Farm is nearly complete and we have Paul Kurilla of TLA and Chris John of Valley Crest to thank for the remarkable job they have been able to accomplish in their free time after regular working hours. We also have many of our gardeners to thank who have responded to calls for manpower help in recent weeks. As we celebrate this accomplishment at our Grand Opening on February 5th, we ask you to remain mindful that we are still short of our goal to raise the $80,000 necessary to cover the construction costs of the farms. We still need $30,000 to finish the job and repay some debt!
In upcoming weeks and months, the Skidaway Farms Development Committee will be asking for your financial support by attending fun and educational fund raisers in the garden and also, at any time, will gladly accept any tax-deductible donation you care to make. These can be made to Skidaway Audubon @ 600 Landings Way South, Savannah, GA. 31411. Share the Farm with your friends and neighbors, too. Let them see what a wonderful amenity this is for our community and maybe they will write us a check, too.
Costal Gardening Know How:
Hester and Zipperer as well as Herb Creek have nice selections of vegetable seeds. In addition, here are a few of the well-known seed companies. If others have favorites to share let me know and I will add them next month. www.burpee.com www.organicseed.com www.parkseed.com www.henryfields.com www.cooksgarden.com www.johnnyseeds.com
Top soil in the coastal south is primarily sand and silt. It is easy to dig but has little organic material and does not hold nutrients well. Amending/improving your garden plot will probably be the most important thing you do for your vegetables the first couple of years. We have begun the process by adding purchased top soil, lime, rotted horse manure, and finely ground wood chips (except in the organic quadrant). However, be aware that building good soil takes worms, appropriate bacteria, and time. You can hurry this along by adding additional compost to your plot.
Good Day Farmers,
This is our second monthly newsletter and we are looking for an Editor. If you would like to become a critical part of the new organization and and have time each month to organize a newsletter, please contact me:
Blake Caldwell (598-5365 or 404-964-8409) .
Save the Date
Saturday, February 5 th (Rain date Feb 12th)2:00 PM
In the Garden – McWhorter Road
Live music, Refreshments by Cha Bella
Hester and Zipperer will have vegetable plants for sale
Free Hay Rides-Bring the Children
Get Involved! (Second Request)
Several people have stepped forward to join our governance committee. However, there are still jobs to fill so please consider being part of the ‘ground floor’ as we build this new amenity for our community.
Chair- Blake Caldwell
Mike King: Finance Coordinator
Vice-Chair (rising Chair) – vacant
Linda Huntoon: Communications Coordinator
Education Coordinator: Vacant
Janet Waldie: Membership Coordinator
The Governance Committee will “be responsible for decisions regarding the membership and also current and future Garden activities. Committee members develop, interpret, and enforce the Garden rules. Only Garden members may join The Governance Committee” We need people to volunteer for this important work. The first couple of years will set the stage for many years to come, so please consider giving your time and wonderful ideas. If you would like to take on one of the vacant position or serve on a team, please let me know. (404-964-8409 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our First Work Party
The Farm as a Work in Progress. On December 30, with very short notice, we got 12 hearty gardeners to join us in shoveling and raking ground asphalt to be the base of the perimeter paths in the garden. Most of us have gray hair but we absolutely moved a lot of base material. The Valley Crest folks were mightily impressed. We all say thank you to: Janet Waldie,
Bill Bowen, Joe Shantz, Peggy Miller, Joan Huxler, Aletha Dunlavy, Andy Ward, Lou Molella, Connie O’Donnell, ,Liz McGough, Beth Thompson, and Jackie Huntley. Your chance will come. We plan at least one more work party before the farm opens Feb 5th.
Watch your e-mail.
Organic Gardeners Corner
I’m looking forward to gardening at Skidaway Farms. At our first work party, I met a lot great people and we are excited about sharing gardening tips with each other. Turns out, we have very experienced organic gardeners in our midst. The organic gardening plots will occupy a section in the back right corner of the garden. At the Grand Opening, we will have a separate drawing for those plots. If you would like to sign up for the organic section and have not done so already, please contact me. Janet Waldie. (email@example.com – 655.7716.) The following was taken from the University of Georgia’s web site under Organic Agriculture. Organic production is usually thought of as growing foods or fibers without the use of synthetic fertilizers or synthetic pesticides, or in the case of animals without using extra hormones or antibiotics. In reality, organic production is a system of practices that relies on biological cycles to minimize diseases and pests, and to help maintain fertility. Take a look at the definition below from the USDA National Organic Standards Board.
“Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”
(Examples of off-farm inputs: purchased compost, rock, manure, etc.)
Our Sign is Up!
Look for it on the left on McWhorter Road beyond the split toward the aquarium.
Capital Fund Update:
Skidaway Farms will be celebrating its Grand Opening on February 5thth. We thank everyone who has so generously contributed not only financially, but also their time and labor to make this possible. We started out hoping to raise $80,000 in our Capital Campaign for the infrastructure needs – fencing, deep el, irrigation, tilling, grading etc. We are still short of meeting this goal by $27,000. Donors at all levels are invited to join us and will be recognized on our web site: www.skidawayfarms.com. Additional sponsorships exist to honor those who you may wish to celebrate or commemorate – naming rights to the garden’s ways and lanes, and plaques to be placed on benches and picnic tables built by Bethesda Barn Builders. Donations are tax deductible and should be made out to Skidaway Audubon and sent to 600 Landings Way South, Savannah, GA 31311.
Children’s Garden Update:
Plans are underway to provide an area reserved for children. The pilot program is our initial attempt to educate and allow children and parents to experience the joys (mostly) of growing vegetables from seed. We will begin with two plots within the area designated for the Children’s Garden.
A crop of cool weather (early) vegetables are planned. Garlic, onions, radishes, spinach, parsley, and carrots will be attempted. Each child will have a portion of the 20 X 20 foot plot.
During the Grand Opening, a sign-up sheet will be available and a flyer to give to parents. Meetings will be conducted on selected Saturdays from 10 AM until 11 AM. I will monitor the progress and inform the participants to join me when “things” start to sprout. They may learn the fine art of weeding, if nothing else, initially. We will tend and cultivate the veggies as they mature. A harvesting celebration is envisioned for each child, as they remove their produce to take home.
So far, we are a committee of 2, Pat Barry and Green Thumb president, Linda Rich. We would like to encourage others to join us and continue to develop and “grow” the garden for children. I have spoken with a few mothers who are enormously excited and supportive of the opportunity to share the fun and knowledge gained.
Costal Gardening Know How:
We area also looking for a person to write a monthly “what you should be doing this month” in the garden. You do not have to be an expert, but we want this column to be specific to Skidaway Farms. So if you want to talk about what you are doing and advise other farmers, please let us know. We are happy to have ‘guest editors’ each month until someone decides it is theirs to take on.