One thing I learned out on the farm this week is just how many MANY insects are out there. I think in largest quantity first place goes to the ants all over the place! Sugar ants to fire ants and nearly everything in between. We also have a fair amount of wasps in the Howdy farm as well. Unfortunately for me, I am terrified of wasps. A fellow intern got to watch me flip out when one almost landed on me. However we besides the fire ants I brought home in my shoes and the wasps I run from we do have a bunch of fascinating insects on the farm!
This beetle looks like a ladybug on steroids because in a way it is. The Mexican Bean beetle is part of the family Coccinellidae which is also known as ladybird beetles. So just think of the Mexican Bean beetle as the hardcore cousin to the ladybug and the Asian lady beetle! As similar as they look, however, this guy does some things differently. Most insects in the Coccinellidae family eat other pests this one eats plants. Maybe he and his buddies were the reason there were some holes in the sweet potato leaves?
Okay, I keep talking about the sweet potatoes that we worked with. I'd say 'harvested,' but that's not as accurate a description as we'd hoped. Oh well, better luck next time! When I arrived on the Howdy Farm Wednesday, Corey told me we'd be harvesting some sweet potatoes. I was pretty excited since I love sweet potatoes, they're just so good!! Anyway, we get out there and start cutting the vines and leaves out of the way and saving them to sell to Ronin cooking, a unique company that makes all of their food only from the freshest of veggies! While cutting off leaves and such is when I found my little beetle. Once we got everything out of the way, we began to dig.
We dug and dug following the roots trying to find some Sweet potatoes. The picture above is Corey showing us how to dig around the tuberous root without breaking it. Despite his excellent demonstration I still broke at least two. Oops! I still had fun though! We cut back three or four plants all of the same variety to see what we could find.
From the plants that we cut back, we only harvested a few sweet potatoes as you can see from the picture on the left. I know it wasn't much, but I still had a blast working with all that dirt. The other interns, as well as myself, enjoyed using our hands rather than shovels too! Now anywhere on the Howdy Farm, you will find some rouge plants growing randomly. For example, that picture on the right is a dried up Okra I found under the sweet potatoes. There had been an okra plant there, but it got choked out by vines of the sweet potato. The cool thing about this particular pod is the thing sticking out of it. By the time I uncovered this okra on the ground the seeds inside started to germinate and the radicle (or first root) became so strong that it broke through the hard outside of both the seed inside and the okra itself. Pretty nifty!
I also worked on the farm Thursday this past week, but for the sake of you dear reader, I'll keep it short-ish. Thursday involved cutting back the blackberry bushes, ripping up the morning glories that were taking over the trellis and planting sunflowers and zinnias. Then (literally) on top of all that, we added mulch and compost to all the beds we had been working on. We shoveled a lot on Thursday. Back and forth from the beds to piles of compost and mulch with two wheelbarrows. When I got back to my dorm from the Farm Thursday, my roommate asked how my day was. I told her "I am sunburnt and smell like compost...and I had a blast!"
*Note to self: WEAR SUNSCREEN AND A HAT!