Well, everybody, we made it! The end of the semester is in sight! Whoop! It's astounding for me to think that Thanksgiving is next week which means finals are around the corner. Somehow I am terrified and confident about my finals at the same time. Well, no matter what happens I can move into my next semester remembering all the fun I've had on the Howdy Farm in this past couple of months!
This past week on the Howdy Farm was super exciting for me! I showed up Wednesday morning like always. However this time there was a large group of people standing near my butterfly/rain garden area. I walked over to admire the beautiful flowers that have bloomed this week and soon began talking with the group of people there. They were interested in what I was doing and learning more about the Howdy Farm, so I started to tell them about my self and everything we do on the farm. I ended up giving them a whole tour of the farm from one end to the other and even into the Garden Science Lab gardens. It turns out the group of people I had been with for the past 45 minutes worked for the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association.
Not only did these nice people work for TNLA but they were the board of directors and the President/CEO of the company! I had so much fun giving this group a tour that 15 minutes later when another crowd showed up for a visit, I hopped in a gave the whole tour over again! I just have so much fun teaching people and learning more myself as I go.
In other news, my little garden area just looks more beautiful all the time! When I showed up to work this week, more flowers had bloomed, and these plants continue to grow much larger than I imagined they might.
Here you can see my borage has bloomed! These beautiful little flowers are almost mesmerizing when you look at them. They have a unique color and shape, and I am so excited they are blooming before it gets too cold.
So just as I predicted on my last blog, I have more cosmos beginning to bloom. However, I was surprised by the change in color. I am so happy they bloomed in this shade of pink. Before these start to die back, I'll be cutting a bouquet of these flowers since they're my mothers favorite color.
I was delighted to see that despite unusual weather around us my black-eyed Susans are looking much better now. On top of that, I also have two more blooms. Yay more flowers!
Lastly, I am thrilled to report about my sunflowers. While at least one was already shoulder hight, all of the sunflowers have buds ready to bloom at any day now. The smallest sunflower plant has already flowered as you can see above. I call him the runt of the litter, but he's growing strong! I hope they will all bloom before it gets too cold!
Well, folks, that's about all I've got in me for this blog. May we all stay healthy for the rest of the semester. Good luck on finals and Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!
Fall is here! This week on the Howdy farm was terrific because for most of my time on the farm it was cloudy and cold. While I was working outside the weather stayed around 60 degrees F. My roommate who is from North Carolina, has been complaining about the weather not being cold enough for October and November. Now that cold weather has moved in she seems more at home. Hopefully, this cold weather can stick around a while this time!
While the weather has been changing making many students sick, the plants on the farm are thriving! I hadn't seen my garden in nearly two weeks, and I came back to quite a beautiful surprise. Everything in my garden is thriving and growing beautifully. Some plants are growing much bigger than I anticipated them to. It's all so exciting.
Borage and zinnias were the first transplants to be planted outside. As you can see both of them are doing really well. Some of the borage is even producing little fruit-like things in the center of the plant.
My sunflowers are still growing strong! They are all about 3ft tall so far, and they each have 3 or 4 flower buds around the top. I can not wait to post pictures when they bloom!
Everything I planted is just beautiful right now. I love working in my garden area even if I am just pulling weeds. With all the flowers around and the more pleasant weather, it's really calming to work out on the Howdy Farm.
As you can see my plants are getting so well established that they hardly need me at all anymore! I am so proud of my little garden. I have even been able to teach some students and volunteers about the importance of the combination of plants I have growing here. I can not wait to see what this garden can become in the years to come!
Well, folks, I am sick. This whole week have I been so sick I could hardly leave my room let alone work on the Howdy Farm. I missed the farm and everyone I work with this week. I especially missed taking pictures and coming up with an idea for this blog. Then one day it dawned on me that I could still write a blog, it will just be slightly different than usual.
In addition to this internship, I am also in the garden science lecture with Dr. Pierson and the lab with Dr. King. I love these courses so much! They are entertaining classes which make learning that much more comfortable. I highly recommend these professors for these classes. They are awesome! In Dr. King's Garden Science Lab each student in the class gets to make a video explaining how to do something in the field of horticulture. We could make any "how to" video we could come up with or any video describing the importance of different techniques in gardening. My video will be about the significance of raised bed gardens and what you can use to make one.
This is a picture of my garden bed and me from the beginning of the semester. Since then everything has grown like mad. My tomatoes are way beyond the cage, my squash is growing over nearly everything else, and my zinnias are almost two feet tall. However before anything could grow here that little bed had to be built and filled with the right stuff. Since the video I am going to make can only be two minutes, this blog will be a more extended and more in-depth description of garden beds.
Raised bed gardens are important in places like this area of Texas because of the parent material in this area. The soil is made up of three different components; sand, silt, and clay. Places like College Station Tx have more clay in the ground which makes it harder for water to drain through. Places like Galveston Tx have more sand in their soil which makes it harder to hold water and leaves the root systems less stable. It is ideal when your soil has all three components in relatively equal parts. This perfect soil is often called loam or medium loam.
As shown in this triangle chart ideal soil is found in the middle of the chart at 20,40 and 40% of each component. This table can help identify what kind of land you have. You can have your soil tested by Texas A&M extension service at http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/. On the howdy farm a little while ago we received some new dirt, and we wanted to know what was in it. Instead of sending a sample off to be tested we decided to have some fun with the new soil. We took an empty water bottle and filled it halfway with soil and then filled it with water. After putting the cap back on Michael, our new Farm Manager shook the bottle for about 5 minutes, and the soil started to separate. After a few days, we could see almost equal thirds of clay slit and sand. The clay was the heaviest and settled at the bottom, and silt was in the middle and sand being the lightest was on top.
Once we can understand the soil and what it is made of, then we can understand it's composition. When we think of soil, most people probably don't realize what is actually in their soil. The materials discussed earlier will only make up 45% of the soil no matter what percents of clay silt and sand. All soil, in general, is 50% solid matter and 50% pore space.
Now that you know the soil is made of sand, silt, and clay in the 45% of solid material Lets talk about the critical 5% of organic matter. The organic material in soil is essential for microbes and the plants themselves. When creating your garden be sure to have organic matter in your bed for nutrients for the plants.
The raised garden beds we built for my garden science lab were constructed from planks of wood which we cut into 4ft long pieces. We made 19 (WHOOP) 4x4 beds for the students in the lab. The bottom of each box was lined with newspaper to keep some of the weeds from growing. Next, some of the original parent material was added back into the box. We used some of the soil from that area because it had low enough percentage of clay that we would not be concerned by it. On top of this soil, we added a bag of potting soil and half a bale of peat moss. Peat or peat moss is a excellent component to add to any garden. It's great for the pants and the microbes living in the soil. This peat moss incorporated our organic matter to the beds.
Lastly, we all mixed the different soils in our boxes to create a homogeneous mixture. This step is crucial but can be easily overlooked. One student did not mix their soil well enough, and her plants did not grow well and eventually died. After they remixed the soil and replanted their garden bed, they became much more successful plants. After all your soil is mixed, you can plant seeds and transplants and watch them grow! Have fun gardening!