Back from Boot Camp

This morning was the Fall Gardener’s Boot Camp. I woke up early, loaded up with novel, insulated cup, backpack and my trusty green basket, and headed out at 7:30am. First stop was Starbucks to fill insulated cup, for the day does not begin until I have tea. After a bit of tea, some reading and a croissant, it was time to head to the farmer’s market. The market opens at 8:30 and the workshop started at 9, so I only had about 15 minutes to shop. The basket was quickly filled with shiitakes, red peppers, onions, eggs, plum jam, figs, baby squash, mung beans sprouts, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, and then I started towards Boot Camp.

The Fall Gardening Boot Camp was exactly what it sounds like. David Reed had gathered a bunch of farmers and gardeners to give short talks about subjects related directly to gardening in our area. It was an intense amount of information in a short period of time, then plenty of time for individual questions at the end. All of that, plus breakfast and lunch and free seeds! Utterly worth of penny of the $25.

What I did wrong:

  • starting cucurbit seeds early
  • too little soil amendments
  • infected/untrustworthy soil (probably where mosaic virus originated)
  • too much uncomposted “brown matter”
  • not enough/any mulch
  • plants too close together
  • allowing seedlings to stay in trays too long, planting stressed seedlings
  • once I started spraying, not spraying often enough

What I did right:

  • planting several heirloom varieties to see which did well
  • watering with pond & rain water only
  • planting herbs with vegetables
  • separating cucurbits and nightshades
  • using raised beds
  • solarizing bed with mosaic virus

What I’ll try this time:

  • planting unrelated plants to confuse diseases/pests
  • adding more soil amendments & compost
  • neem oil in castile soap as foliar spray
  • more herbs & flowers among veg plants to attract pollinators
  • since major pest problem is caterpillars, add birdbath to attract birds
  • if the cabbage loopers come back, Bt spray twice a week
  • mulching with coffee grounds

I’m excited about my fall garden. The workshop was positive, the other gardeners sympathetic and supportive, and everyone offered great suggestions. I will be trying all of them.

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