Head gardener Becky Halbe reports that the Rock Spring UCC garden succeeded despite this year’s copious rain, thanks in part to its well-draining raised beds and the regular replenishment of planting mix in them. Rock Spring’s dedicated volunteer gardeners also deserve thanks. Their hard work throughout the season helped produce over 400 pounds of produce for AFAC, a new record for the garden.
The increase in production this season was largely due to increasing the tomato crop from two plants to five. This meant a LOT more work for their resident builder, who not only encased each individual plant in chicken wire to discourage the very determined squirrels and chipmunks, but also added another level of caging as the happy, string-trained, and very productive tomato plants shot up over six feet tall.
Other crops featured a wide array of varieties: snow peas and Oregon II snap peas, French Breakfast and Cherry Belle radishes, Detroit Red spring beets, seven types of hot peppers (among them Jalapeno, Serrano, Habanero, and Asian Tiger), Black Beauty and Rosa Bianca eggplants, Black Beauty zucchini, Jewell sweet potatoes, as well as two crops of bush beans in three different beds, pole beans on a somewhat shorter bamboo trellis than in past years, and kohlrabi. The first cucumber crop that followed the peas on the big trellis also did very well.
Voracious deer and squash borers provided challenges for the garden, and excessive late summer rain took a toll on plantings of cucumber and sweet potatoes. But gardening innovations provided a number of successes as well. Encasing and barricading the bean beds with hog wire protected them without the need for deer repellent sprays. Putting hardware cloth over the early radishes foiled the squirrels this year. Adding blood meal to the seedling planting holes and refurbishing the soil mix produced very strong, healthy, and prolific pepper, eggplant, and tomato plants. Adding and maintaining native flowers to attract pollinators continued to boost vegetable production this season.
Overall, Rock Spring is proud of its “personal best” yield and its dedicated team of hard-working gardeners and looks forward to their 2019 garden.