"Oh, good scholar,/I say to myself,/how can you help/but grow wise/with such teachings/as these-/the untrimmable light/of the world,/the ocean's shine,/the prayers that are made/out of grass?" - Mary Oliver

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

horticultural hotline hailey

Good afternoon, my name is Horticultural Hotline Hailey, at your service!

In all seriousness, I am currently working the master gardener hotline at the extension office. Chuckle if you'd like, but it's a rivoting horticultural world out there, and some of us need to face it head on! :)

For example, we have the case of the missing potatoes. Manny McFarmer dude planted a 150ft row of potatoes... only to find that a little while later they had all VANISHED. Theory #1: bad seed. Theory #2: due to the EXTREME wetness of the spring, the potatoes rotted to oblivion. Theory #3: Manny McFarmer is a senile old bat, and simply forgot to plant the potatoes. Theory #4: something in the "small critter" family found this 150ft row to be a LOVELY dinner treat, and ate them all. right. UP!

Rivoting, I know. However, afternoon shifts are actually pretty nice here - few calls, and lots of time to hang out in the office & play online. Which is a privilige these days, since I am mostly without the net.

Week one at the farm flew by. It's crazy how quickly time can go by, even when the individual experiences seem to drag on forever (i.e.- pulling pigweed, also known as the Blight of Cane Creek Farm). The week was pretty successful though, I must say. Highlights include:

-- LOTS of hoeing (hehe, I know. Farming has an endless potential for sex jokes), weed pulling, and mulching. We mulched our two bean beds (I direct seeded these beds with the help of my wonderful mom, dad, & sister, Chloe, when they were in town for my graduation. Now every time I look at them, I think about my family, which is really special <3). My friend/soulbrother Nicky came up to visit with his partner Addison from FL, and we mulched together on Saturday while adapting our favorite songs to include the word "rock" in every sentence (not quite as random as it sounds - we were picking up rocks to make a border for a new circle garden I'm creating, which I'm very excited about! I'm going to plant flowers and herbs.
-- I weeded and remulched the open beds in the lower garden, which are looking pretty good overall. I can't wait for the flowers to bloom -- we have sunflowers, cosmos, and zinnias in the ground, and I'm going to plant a few others soon! (probably some marigolds and nasturiums first, to help with some of our (somewhat pervasive) pest problems)
-- I got the world's worst sunburn.... good LORD. My own fault, of course, for gardening in my scanty summer attire (shorts, a rolled up tank top, and boots), and not wearing sunscreen. However, I luckily didn't peel, and have learned my lesson... only the semi-hard way. :)
-- Despite the health of most of our plants (tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, peppers, and flowers are all looking pretty healthy), we are currently in the midst of a squash crisis. I sent a panicked e-mail to Karen Neill, the Guilford County urban horiculture agent, entitled "help, Karen! - squash crisis." And unfortunately, it really is. Our plants are teeming with cucumber beetles and squash bugs (pictures to follow). Luckily for me, however, there may be more options than I'd originally thought. I'm about to try and track down two organic sprays -- one called bifenthrin (which may be under the names talstar or bifen)and another called sabadilla. I'll let you know how they work, and what tactics we ended up using to apply them most successfully. I'm pretty concerned about this pest problem, because it's only gotten worse since last year. If we're going to be an "organic" farm, then we need to follow the "integrated pest management" principals a little more religiously. However, it's really hard to do in such a limited amount of space!! It's also hard when I'm kind of inheriting a space that's been farmed for awhile, but in exactly what ways I'm not really sure.

Anyway - lots to do, and lots to look forward to in the upcoming week.

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