Recap: Jan 11, Chris Rain: What to Plant and Do Now [read more]

Chris Rain, in charge of the vegetable garden beds in Hermann Park, showed us the garden beds in Hermann Park and enlightened us about what he’s planting and doing now for them. His talk was interesting and informative.
Chris introduced himself and spoke on his responsibilities and activities as manager of the Herman Park Family Garden. A volunteer coordinator for volunteer participation at the Family Garden also spoke briefly. Chris’ slides showed the layout of the Garden and the raised beds that have been constructed. In addition to vegetables, the garden grows herbs — culinary, as well as medicinal. Currently, the garden donates and provides its harvest to: Emergency Aid Coalition @ Trinity East United Methodist.
Suggested seed sources were: Baker Creek ( mostly heirloom), Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Botanical Interests.
Chris described making a compost tea. For those who want to purchase commercially produced compost, he suggested The Ground Up and Nature’s Way as good sources.
For caterpillar control, the bacterium “BT” or Bacillus thuringiensis was recommended. It is commonly available at most garden centers. Also, for pest control, an all season “soybean oil” (natural oil) can be used. For “bad” fungus, he referred to a product called “Actinavate” or any mixture that includes garlic chives; this was also suggested for use as an organic control.
Micro-organisms are a necessary part of fertile, productive soil. The book, “Teeming with Microbes” by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis was a highly recommended read.
A plant that is easy to propagate with cuttings and that draws bees and will flower without losing foliage is “African Blue Basil”.
The Garden follows an 8 season plot rotation which can be researched in the gardening book written by Houston’s Bob Randall. In the Family Garden they do not plant Nightshade-related plants (tomatoes, peppers, chiles) in the same plot for 4 years. The plot is then considered “insect dormant” and can be returned to production when the same crop is replanted.
Currently in the ground or to be planted for Spring/Summer crop: okra, roselle, Jicima, eggplant, Luffa, cotton, peanuts and sweet potatoes. Last year, the crop of peanuts was decimated by rodents that had tunneled in to beds. “Big Bertha” was a suggested bell pepper for a February start.
In the garden now producing are: “Brassicas”, ie. broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Also. Swiss chard, parsnips, turnips, beets and peas.
Chris Rain also strongly encouraged the planting of flowers and suggested sunflowers. A suggested mulch was pine needles, which do not leach too much acid.
Thanks to Rich Vega for the notes.

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