As the semester draws to an end, so does my internship at The Howdy! Farm. But all good things must come to an end, right?
Reflecting on the past couple of weeks, growing things here on the farm has really sparked my interest in making a few garden beds to raise my own plants back home. With all the wisdom Michael has shared with me, I feel a lot more confident in being able to keep my own plants alive.
For a general summary on the final results, the Hestia variety of Brussels Sprouts grew the biggest in our given time frame. They will most likely not be ready to harvest until springtime. The mint plants established very well and are full and healthy. They never seemed to be phased by the few freezes we have had. I will be making a few cuttings to take with me so I can always have a piece of them with me.
The turnips are still growing, and will not be ready for another couple of weeks. One thing I would have liked to have time to do is mulch the rows. This may have kept the Henbit at bay and would offer a bit more protection from the weather. I plan to contact Michael in a couple of weeks for pictures of the plants and to see how everything is turning out!
For those of you reading this to learn about the Howdy Farm, possibly to seek out an internship as I did, or other ways you can get involved, I highly encourage it. I have definitely earned an appreciation of plants and their growing process that I did not have before. Volunteering out here is a great way to be outdoors and be active in between classes or in the afternoons. Or maybe you just need to sit back and relax or get a breath of fresh air and study. It is a change of atmosphere from a desk or library, so bring your laptop, book, or lunch and just enjoy the outdoors.
I am very thankful for the opportunity I have had here at The Howdy! Farm. The memories and knowledge I have learned here will be something I will surely carry with me for a long time. ~Balt
This is the Tokinashi Turnip. A lot bigger than the others!
Today, we had quite a few things going on at the Farm. Michael and I started the morning by taking cuttings of the passion fruit vines before the freezes took them completely. It was good to exercise the skills I learned in plant propagation class. When we took them into the greenhouse I snapped a sweet picture of these succulents! Aren't they beautiful? We then transplanted a few bell peppers that didn't get too hurt from the freeze and moved them to the greenhouse as well. In the midst of all of our farming, we met two baby opossums that live in the brush pile beside the compost bins. The baby possum was huddled by the compost most likely taking advantage of the warmth given off by the chemical reactions that happen during decomposition. ~ Balt
Everything is looking mighty fine! I'm so proud of my plants! It's a great feeling coming and checking on them and being able to visually see the growth that happens within a few days.
I took a course, HORT 335, called Sociohorticulture which focused on the interaction of people and plants. I couple of things that I remember is that spending a few minutes a day with plants can lower stress levels. I feel relieved and happy when I'm working on the farm. The plants are something I can look forward to and take pride in.
Today was only Monday, but I had a bit of time in between classes and I was curious to see my plants so I came to check on them.
Anyhow, I noticed a lot of growth in the mint and brussels sprouts bed. The Hestia variety of Brussels sprouts are growing great. Keeping in mind that the description for the Hestia variety is"Early, firm, and good field-holding." , they are taking to the Texas soil and climate very well. The other varieties are alive and doing well, but Hestia are noticeably bigger at this point in growth.
Last week I noticed a bit of green sprouts coming in from the beds too. Thinking it was probably the pesky Henbit, I left it alone thinking it was going to come in whether I wanted it to or not. But this week I noticed it had grown significantly and it looked like something else that I was familiar with. I picked some of it and it ended up being cilantro!
Cilantro is pretty cool and I like the smell of it, plus it doesn't look like its hurting anything so I think I'll let it keep growing. ~Balt
Here is an update on the turnip growth in two weeks. Not much has happened in the front bed with the mint and Brussels Sprouts, so I didn't take any pictures, but everything is still thriving! The little green sprouts you see coming in among the turnips is a pesky weed called Henbit. It's almost impossible to get rid of completely but Michael said it wont do much harm to the turnips. The only thing I could think of that Henbit could hurt is take sunlight from the turnip leaves but I believe they are big enough that they will be just fine. ~Balt
A week later and the baby turnips have sprouted! It's difficult to tell exactly how much germination percentage I had since I direct seeded in the rows and guesstimated how frequent the seeds were sprinkled (approximately 2 seeds every 3 inches). There are A LOT though.
Today we took the Brussels Sprouts off of the hardening off bench and planted them into the front bed! With help from some farm volunteers, we spaced them about 6 inches away from each other to give them plenty of room to grow. By keeping the varieties separated, I will also be able to see which variety does best. And to amp things up and get the train rolling, I gave them another 2 1/2 cups of 8-2-4 all purpose fertilizer.
Everything is finally planted and doing well. Grow, baby, grow! ~Balt
Today's big headline: The Turnip seeds have arrived! My main task today was to weed out and shape the rows for the turnip seeds I planned to sow earlier in the semester. Here are the varieties:
Tokinashi- a white turnip traditionally from Japan
Purple Top White Globe- this one looks like it is supposed to grow huge!
Hirosaki- a red colored turnip substitute for 'Red Scarlet'
These should sprout by next week, and be ready to harvest in approximately 50 days.
Another task that I decided to tackle today was ground layering the mint vines. I did this because the plants were looking too bunched up in the center with little to few branching out. Serpentine layering is a technique where you wound a part of the vine by slightly cutting it or breaking it and burying it beneath the soil. This is suppose to trigger hormones responsible for root synthesis and adventitious root formation. This will make my mint plants cover more surface area in the bed. I have been told that mint is VERY aggressive and will establish itself well and eventually take over the bed if not properly maintained and pruned. ~Balt
Source: HORT 201 Horticulture- Science and Practices Dr. Reed
This week, I added an all purpose fertilizer to the front bed where my mint plants reside. Good news is they survived the stressful transfer from pot to bed! Hopefully this boost of nutrients will help them grow. Among all 5 mint plants, I applied 2 1/2 cups. Also this week, Michael and I, along with a few volunteers built a new compost bin area! ~Balt
This was the week my Brussels Sprouts germinated! It seems that some germinated, while others did not. Michael said that it might take a couple more days for the others to germinate. Also, last week Mr. Gerald allowed us to have a mint plant of each variety he had, which I moved to the hardening off bench. Those went into the ground today. Here are the varieties:
Kentucky Colonel (Ornamental)
I spent most of the morning clearing the front beds of weeds, and in the afternoon we put them into the bed and watered them thoroughly.
Excited to see what happens! ~Balt
My seeds came in today! I ordered 3 different varieties of Brussels Sprouts; Hestia, Dagan and Churchill. According to the website, each variety offers an advantage over the others.
Hestia: "Early, firm, and good field-holding."
Dagan: "Dependable midseason variety"
Churchill: "Earliest to market"
I planted one tray of each variety, which is about 98 seeds each tray. After watering them in, Michael and I set them in the greenhouse. Eager to see the germination! ~Balt
Today I began my internship at The Howdy! Farm. Since my seed orders had not come in yet, I was in charge of other tasks such as shaping up the hedges in front of the farm building and removing dead branches of Rosemary so that the plant could look nice and green. Michael and I also spread mulch in rows where he planned on planting turnips. It was a hot day, but all in all it was an enjoyful experience getting to be able to tidy up different areas and make the plants look sharp and clean! ~Balt