Our Bumpy Days at GFS

Last week was the third week for the GFS (Growing Food and Sustainability) summer program in Middleton. It has been more challenging for all out participants as compared to the previous weeks. Check out what has happened and our reactions:

  • We had a super warm week with temperatures ranging from around 90-104 degrees Fahrenheit (on Thursday the heat index was 120). All of the plants were so desperate for natural watering and it was unpleasant for us to work outside under such extreme weather. (It might be worth mentioning that we were so excited that it rained on Tuesday, but it only lasted for a couple of minutes). As our response to this situation and parents’ concern about it, we decided to have more indoor activities with our students so that everybody could maintain their health and excitement throughout the program.
  • Our bean plants in the front bed were ‘trimmed’. We assumed that deer might have done it. One of our Program Leaders, Gabrielle, asserted that the deer might have run out of food from their natural habitat due to the long drought (oh poor animals…and our plants too!)

Bean Plants Eaten by Deer

  • A number of other bean plants were severely damaged by Japanese beetles. We saw a lot of them all over the Youth Farm and ended up spending about half an hour catching them. We throw them into soapy water to kill them. We decided that we will have a bug-catching session every day to control their population and to prevent our plants from being damaged further.

Japanese Beetles!

  • Some kind of animal ate our planted seeds which were surrounded by a cage made of 1/4 inch hardware cloth in the greenhouse. It was our second attempt of planting squashes and melons. Gabrielle was determined to have the third try by reseeding and putting the tray inside the closed hallway. The next day, we were disappointed to discover that our seeds were eaten again! (what a smart kind of pests we have here). We decided to have the fourth try and put the tray inside the classroom. This might be our last try since we are running out of seeds (keep fingers crossed).
  • Despite the fact that we were having a national public holiday on the 4th of July, we had our program as usual. That morning, Lauren, one of our full-time participants, quickly realized as soon as she woke up that there was no bus going to Middleton from Madison throughout the day due to the holiday (Our full-time participants, Lauren and myself, depend on the Madison Metro bus service to get to Middleton form downtown Madison every day for the program). We soon came up with the solution: Lauren and Ain took a different bus to get halfway to our program venue and Natalie fetched them from there by car. Problem solved and the program ran just like any normal day!

Along with all the challenges that we have faced throughout the week, there are also a few exciting updates for everyone to cheer up for:

– We had a new kid in our Tuesday/Thursday group who attended our program for the first time last Tuesday. Her name is Elizabeth. She is six years old and a smart friend of the triplets. Thanks to Virginia, the triplet’s mom, for bringing more people into the program!

Lauren and Elizabeth

We built worm bin with the Wednesday/Friday group with instructions by Gabrielle. We are going to use the worm bin this summer to do vermaculture composting (an indoor composting method which uses worm as decomposer).

– We are having adorable baby eggplants at the Youth Farm. We might start harvesting eggplants pretty soon!

– The sunflower seeds that were planted by the Wednesday/Friday group are already sprouting at the front part of the Middleton High School garden.

Our compost is now feeling warm after we added beer mash last week (lots of nitrogen!)

We recovered the strawberry and raspberry plants from being dried out by the extreme heat after we watered them generously throughout last week. Now they look green again!

We harvested onions, peppers, radishes, beets, and tomatoes for the first time. We might be getting more of them soon!

– Ain

Cross-posted from http://growingfoodandsustainability.wordpress.com/

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