Groundhog Warning

This afternoon, en route to weeding and watering, a gardener surprised a woodchuck in the lower garden. It is not clear where it had come through the fence, but everyone should check the portion of fence adjacent to their plot and make sure that it is as tightly staked as possible. We recommend that the same be done in the upper garden. Although we have not yet had any reports of critter sightings there, some young broccoli heads show signs of nibbling.

Also, please do not dump garden waste down by the lower garden because there is no easy way to retrieve it from there at this time of year.

The gardens are looking lush and wonderful and represent an impressive amount of work. Bravo to all!

Late Blight

Hopefully this isn’t going to be a repeat of the late blight disaster of 2009. If you can’t remember what the symptoms of late blight look like, please go to the Cornell website for tomato/potato diseases or just google late blight.

http://forumhome.org/late-tomato-blight-confirmed-in-grafton-county-p-14697-149.htm

If you suspect any of your plants of having this fungus you can ask either Kathy, William, or Susan to have a look. Copper based fungicides are supposed to work to keep it at bay.

Sorry for the nasty news…. keep an eye on your plants.

 

Garlic Mustard

Encroaching invasive plants are gradually degrading the health of our forests and natural areas.  Trained eyes and maintenance and control measures associated with enlightened landscaping practices, planning and patience can prevent many of these invasives.   Thus, we can reduce this threat to the remarkable biodiversity of our region and promote native plants that provide valuable eco-services to us and to the wildlife we treasure.

Garlic Mustard images
To begin to build region-wide awareness on the threat of invasives, a small ad-hoc group associated with Hanover’s Conservation Commission and other communities is working on a plan to educate the public about a small plant that is fairly new in the region, and is spreading very quickly into neighborhoods.   The plant is garlic mustard, and research has shown it to be a significant threat to forest health (see attached background document, with pertinent references).   Other invasive shrubs are well established, and their control is a different matter – with garlic mustard, we are trying to halt the spread of a fairly new plant, since it is not yet pervasive.

This regional project will require an aggressive two-pronged approach, with both an educational and control aspect:  We hope to train more ‘eyes on the ground’ to report the plant and to build teams in each neighborhood where this plant has settled, to help to keep it from reaching further into the region.  Mid-May is the best time to attack Garlic Mustard.  See attachments and contact the Hanover Conservation Commission for more information.

Garlic Mustard Has Invaded Handout

Garlic Mustard Neighborhood Strategy

Garden Spider and Beetles

Garden spider
Our friend Barbara sends the following news:

For the past few weeks we’ve been in the asparagus patch daily, picking Japanese beetles off the plants.  At first, there were hundreds, but of late just a few or none.

At one point, this wonderful spider appeared with her web in the tops of the plants.  She wanted to catch the numerous beetles;  I guess she finds them tasty.

First she spent time adding a vague white design down the center of the web, and a few days later pulled this material into the lovely zig zag pattern you see below her.    Maybe bugs find that attractive?

When she caught a beetle, she wrapped it completely in her silk like a neat package, and these were placed on the web for future dinner …. we saw as many as four of these bug packages attached to the web — but once she was done with the meals, the bug-packages were cast off.

In this photo (it took many tries to get one in focus), she is eating her last package…she huddles over the bug bundle, sticks her jaw into the package, manipulates the package with her elegant long legs, and neatly seems to pull out the insides of the bug.

Such simple entertainment.  We’ve spent hours watching her patient progress.

Now I know why EB White spun that wonderful children’s tale about Charlotte. Maybe it is time to re-read that story?   Doesn’t she give Wilbur advice about life, and other good things? It’s a good thing we didn’t spray anything on the plants to kill the bugs — look what we got instead!

Late Blight in Garden

Our tomato plants have been attacked by blight. It is very bad news. William has removed all but three of his tomatoes (those remaining will be gone soon). He also cut back his potatoes to the ground. We only have a week to really deal with the issue.

If you have any qualms about removing your plants, you need to know that this could ruin the soil at the community gardens for years. William is going to speak to each gardener that he sees and tell them the news, and what to look for. It is important to be ruthless. Removing individual leaves does nothing to stop the mold from spreading. Every garden William has looked at has blight already. The biggest problem is going to be with gardeners who are away.

We need to have all of the diseased plants out by Wednesday. If you don’t remove them, the garden committee will…it’s terrible but it has to be done.