Howdy, everybody! My little garden is coming together, and I am super excited! When I started this internship, I honestly had no idea what I was doing let alone what project I wanted to do. When I finally told Corey I liked butterflies we decided on a butterfly garden and went from there. Since then I have realized I want this butterfly garden to have many purposes. First of all, I want my garden to be a place for butterflies to travel through during migration season which has already begun. Second I see this garden as just the beginning of an idea for future Howdy Farm members. I want this garden to be used as an educational tool as well as the rest of the farm.
What I mean is that a butterfly garden can be used to teach students of all ages about butterflies and why they're significant as well as about habitats, ecosystems, different types of plants and how butterflies and other pollinators are attracted to them. It can be beautiful and educational and if properly taken care of, could last a long time.
Well, that is my hope for the future anyway! For now, I'll just talk about whats currently happing out on the Howdy Farm. As of this past week, I have filled every row in the garden with plants and things are starting to grow!
I started out with all of these transplants that were growing in the greenhouse, and I took them out into the field for planting. With the help of some excellent volunteers and a fellow intern we got everything planted and watered down in no time at all. We planted a combination of plants that attract pollinators as well as a variety of host plants that can be used in the spring if they make it through the winter. Once all the work was done, we were left with this cute looking piece of land.
It is incredible how things have grown just since I have taken this picture. My zinnias are blooming, the borage is enormous, and my sunflowers get taller every day. And down in the rain garden section, the Turks caps are looking healthier since I started watering them, the milkweed is healthy, and my hibiscus flower bloomed again! It is comforting and beautiful out here.
I am not the only one finding the Howdy Farm comforting. There are many insects that find our farm irresistible. However, some of these creatures are not as beautiful or as helpful as butterflies. For example, moths. Moths are one of the pests we have an abundance of on the farm. The adult moths themselves are not so bad, and they can be helpful like butterflies when it comes to pollination. Their larvae, however, can reek havoc on crops.
This picture I took of some of the daisies I planted in the garden, and you can see three moths enjoying the flowers I planted. This photo gave me another idea for my garden. If pests are eating away at my plants, then maybe they won't be eating our produce that we eat and sell. I planted half of my garden with host plants for them to be eaten anyway, so I did not mind the moths plating their eggs in my garden. My primary concern with that idea though was that it is possible that these plants attracted more moths instead of just distracting the ones that were already there. Oh well, it is all a learning experience!
This week on the Howdy farm I continued planting in my section of the garden as well as some usual farm duties. This week some of these responsibilities involved pulling lots and lots of weeds!
I was going to start planting in my butterfly garden but I couldn't because there were so many weeds! After removing as many as I could then I planted my transplants from the greenhouse. When I had finished, I stayed to help weed some more in other areas.
On the Howdy Farm, we have some carrots, beets, and radishes growing in one plot. This section of the farm needed some serious help. The weeds were nearly out of control. So a group of us worked on weeding that plot for hours.
In this picture, you can see a row that has been only half weeded. The little green sprigs left behind on one side are the carrots we seeded there. The other side of this row is so full of weeds you can't even see the tops of the carrots. Then on the far left of the image, you can look at the piles of weeds that I pulled from just half of a row.
Weeds are a big problem for many reasons. The most critical issue that weeds can cause is competition for nutrients in the soil. When we plant seeds or transplants in a field, we are already creating competition among the plants. This healthy competition is okay for us to do because we want as many as possible to do well, so by overplanting there is a possibility of getting too many of a plant rather than not enough. When you add weeds into the mix, the weeds use up nutrients in the soil that our crops need. If our plants don't get the nutrients, they need they won't survive. Another problem weeds cause, especially in this situation, is reduced sunlight. In the picture above the weeds have grown taller faster than the carrots. These tall weeds are blocking out most of the sunlight that the carrots need to develop. With no sunlight, plants cannot photosynthesize or make sugars to use to make a carrot.
Some other fun things happening on the Howdy farm this week was preparation for the plant sale next week! Whoop! While on the Howdy Farm this week, I helped harvest, wash, and store some of the delicious plants we will sell at the Bryan Farmers Market as well as the Plant sale on the 21st of October, 2017. You should come check us out.
Now with some crops, you will have to dry them before you store them. If you can, sometimes run your leafy green vegetables through a salad spinner. As you can see below just fill the bowl of the spinner, then put the lid on and pull the chord to spin the bowl. This will rapidly spin off any extra water that is on the leaves. After this point, we bag the produce, dump the ice from the coolers put the crop back in the ice chest and put it all into a freezer until its time to sell. This keeps everything nice and fresh for our customers.
Well, that was my week on the Howdy Farm! Thanks for joining me and see you soon.
As I have mentioned before, I am starting a butterfly garden on the Howdy Farm that future howdy farmers can use to teach others about the importance of butterflies. Well, I am super excited to tell you that I have finally gotten some things planted! I am so thrilled not only that this project is finally taking off but it also looks super cute!
These two pictures here are how the butterfly garden area used to look. It was empty other than the few plants that remained from last year. The soil had been mulched and formed in such a way that rain and additional water is filtered down a slop into a rain garden. Well, now it is starting to look very different!
In these rows, I have transplanted some of the plants I had growing in the greenhouse. Here we have sunflowers, zinnias, borage, as well as some seeds of bachelor buttons. The middle picture shows the trenches that Michael dug in which we planted seeds. We planted them like this so the seeds will get enough water and sunlight. If I recovered the seeds with all of the soil as well as the mulch they seed would not get enough sunlight to grow.
This week Corey and I also went plant shopping! We bought some more mature plants to transplant on the farm so they wouldn't take as long to become established. We bought some of these plants from Home Depot and others from Farm Patch in Bryan. Later in the week, after letting the plants adjust a bit, I planted them in the butterfly garden. Below are the plants I bought adapting to Howdy Farm conditions which is also called hardening off.
Here are the rows of store-bought flowering plants. Now, something important to know about the plants we bought is that all of them are biennials. Biennials mean that all of these plants have a two-year life cycle. If we had bought annuals, they would have grown just to be killed off in the winter. These biennials will die back but will grow again as soon as the weather warms up. So we get another year out of biennials than if we had annuals.
These are close-ups of the plants and their common names.
Lastly this week on the Howdy farm I harvested a bunch of yard long beans and almost 13 pounds of cucumbers!! It was so much fun working on the farm this week, and I can't wait to keep growing!
Howdy, everyone! Thanks to the fantastic (gross) weather we've been having I couldn't do too much on the farm this week. That means, this week's blog will be a bit thinner than usual, but I'll keep it as interesting as possible!
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, that the Howdy Farm every semester we have a huge plant sale. I am super stoked to say that the plant sale is this month! Whoop!! Since we look forward to this event so much we are already getting things started. We have so many people come to our farm for the sale we want everything looking as beautiful as possible. This means I have more weeding in my future. Hooray! (Ugh)
Generally, when you are pulling weeds, most people just grab and yank. Sometimes this works sometimes it doesn't. Just pulling on whatever you can grab won't always get all of the weed. With grass-like weeds, just pulling from the top will rip the leaves off and keep the roots in the ground. Morning Glory though is a different story.
Ironically enough, morning glories are one of my mother's favorite flowers! Here I am ripping up tons of my mom's favorite flowers! So when one popped up in my garden science lab plot, I transplanted it for mom to take home. I told her not to plant it next to any other plants she likes!
In other Howdy Farm news, the seeds I panted for my butterfly garden and sprouting! Last Wednesday I went to the greenhouse to take a look, and I am so excited that so many are already growing! As they grow larger, I will begin to take them out of the greenhouse to harden-off or become adjusted to life outside the greenhouse! I'll keep you updated on that!
Some other fun things that happened this week (although not strictly Howdy Farm related) were the plant rescue and giveaway that my friend Avery and I completed. Allow me to explain. The horticulture department has loads of plants that they use for the labs especially the HORT 202 lab. This past week they finished up the labs involving hundreds of coleus plants and the lab instructors and TAs were just going to throw them all away! So we saved as many as would fit in our cars!
After that adventure, I brought all the ones I "saved" in my dorm. As girls walked by I would ask them if they wanted a free plant. I got many strange looks, but no one turned me down! Eventually, as I unloaded all the plants I just started pulling them outside my window so people could walk by and see them and take one or two. Within a couple of hours, all 15 plants had been claimed! I was super excited, and I can't wait to do that again. Girls even came back to talk to me about their plants later asking for tips on how to best take care of their new coleus.
Yep, so that was my week on the Howdy Farm. I've also been seeing loads of butterflies flying about. Hopefully, I can get things growing around here for the butterflies to enjoy!