Here is what's happening this week at the Cornell Farm Kitchen Garden
This week in the kitchen garden our greenhouse is full-to-brimming with beautiful. summer/fall veggie starts, culinary and medicinal herbs. Arugula, beans, broccoli, kale, lettuce, onions, hot peppers, peas, pumpkins, squash are all well-stocked; we also have a full house of common and exotic culinary herbs and a new collection of 20 medicinal herbs on display and for sale. Not to mention, our citrus collection is looking gorgeous and flowers are showing. Need basil? Tarragon? Mint? We have it. Come on down.
Our edibles demonstration gardens are producing tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, edible flowers (pineapple guava, marigolds, violas, Scarlet Runner Beans...) and, several medicinal herbs are ready in bloom and thriving (Blue Hyssop, Borage, Culver's Root, Roman Camomile, Lemon Verbena, Rue). Our tomatoes, squash, peppers and cucumbers are blooming, growing, and starting to fruit. Our Fuyu Persimmon and Pineapple Guava are flowering and fruiting. Come and see our kitchen gardens grow!
Spring weather is predictably iffy and it is always a gamble to plant warm weather veggies and fruits before the soil is warm and the hard rains have subsided in late May. The rainstorms in mid and late May this year were a bit much for tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers causing some yellowing of leaves, stunted growth, root rot, and copious amounts of sadness among beginning gardeners.
If you get excited about early warm weather and planted early in May this year, you may have run into some problems. However, there are some things you can do to increase your possibility of success in future. Plant tomato varieties that are grafted on rootstock that can handle cold wet spring and fall weather. Always plant tomatoes in well-draining soil and be at the ready to protect your plants from breaking, root rot, and over-watering due to the pounding rains we can get in May. Be prepared to protect the young plants from the pounding rains while still allowing what sun there is to shine on them.
Young plant starts have tender young roots. When you plant summer fruits and veg in your garden, keep the roots moist (not soaking) for the first 10 days; this helps young roots grow and take hold in their forever home. "Rooting in" or, establishing a strong root system is what you aim for as this must occur for your plants to thrive.
When new leaves start to grow and flowers begin to show the roots are ready to support the plant and you will want to transition from "moisten the roots" watering to deep watering (less often), to encourage roots to grow deeper down into the soil.
Shallow roots make tomato plants susceptible to disease and wind damage; deep watering helps the roots stabilize and access nutrition and the healthy temperatures available deeper in the soil. Letting tomato plants go partially dry between deep waterings stimulates tomato growth and sweetness. Check your soil before deep watering. Never let tomato plants go totally dry.
If you lost some of your tomato, hot pepper or cucumber plants due to the May rainstorms, come on down and see us. We have some large-sized Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes available in the 1-gallon size ready to be planted, have a HOT selection of hot peppers available, and we have a few cute and delicious Mexican Sour Gerkin cucumber plants. We can also give you some sound advice about what to do for ailing plants if you need it.
Last but not least, our baby chicks are growing up! Yes, we consider them part of our Kitchen Garden. Mamma hen has taught her chicks how to eat, drink, stay warm, cooperate with each other, and roost. They are enjoying eating fresh organic blueberries, watermelon, lettuce, kale, worms, and corn on the cob in addition to their chick scratch. Our grown-up flock is healthy and happy eating the same summer diet plus their oyster shells. Note that some human foods such as tomatoes and avocados and many more are poisonous to chickens so please, enjoy feeding them the chicken treats we sell and don't feed them other random things.
Have a beautiful week and happy gardening from your Cornell Farm Kitchen Garden!