Sunday, November 1, 2015

Eggplant Frost Protection Again? How to Prevent Damage Saint George Court Gardens, Linda Maintanis

It seems like we started the year the same way. Back in early May I posted on Saint George Court about the frost warnings and how I protected my eggplant from damage. Sheets of bubble wrap were gently secured around the small plants with a tab of scotch tape.



This time, this past fall, I found the plants needed frost protection once again. A warm, sunny September had allowed another heavy crop of around fifteen or more eggplants to set up. 

But by the middle of October I was watching the temperatures each night with keen eyes. The days were still so glorious; strong sunshine that still branded pink cheeks. And this crop was a bit small, they could use every extra day of growth. So I left them on the vine. 

When temperatures dropped below forty degrees I conceived a plan. A cocoon of sorts, like a tent/greenhouse, to protect them from a freeze. My first idea was to drape a tarp around them, that was too heavy, and actually would have trapped condensate inside. So I kept the concept with one modification; cotton sheets. They would breathe and trap ground heat at the same time. Perfect.

The sheets were draped over the stakes at dusk. Tucked under the drooping eggplants, they formed a breatheable cocoon. Able to trap warmth but exchange moisture to avoid condensation.

Linda Maintanis, James Maintanis, saint george court, warwick, mary lou reynoldsLinda Maintanis, James Maintanis, saint george court, warwick, mary lou reynolds


 
It worked! I was finally forced to harvest this bowl of eggplants on November 1,2013.
They were definitely worth the effort, a very nice Halloween "treat". Try some of these recipes with your own crop, Minto Island.

Linda Maintanis, James Maintanis, saint george court, warwick, mary lou reynolds
Linda Maintanis, James Maintanis, saint george court, warwick, mary lou reynolds

Friday, September 25, 2015

Squash on the Vine - When Do You Harvest Your Crop? Saint George Court, Warwick, RI

If you've been reading me all summer then you know that I planted some butternut squash in the garden. Two on trellises, one in a patch near the cucumbers and several up and over the grape arbors.

For weeks now curious family members and spectators have said, "Your squash is ready." and I say      "No. Be patient. You have to wait until the stems turn brown".


saint george court, warwick, ri, linda maintanis, governor francis farms

saint george court, warwick, ri, linda maintanis, governor francis farms
When a squash grows in the wild there is no one
there to pick it. When does it fall from the vine?
When the vegetable matures and the stem withers. Turning brown indicates there is no nourishment passing through the plant to the squash.

The large squash to the left is a perfect example. Shown here hanging from the arbor, it has been looking large and fine for months.
But not ready til this week.

Notice how dry and brown the stem has turned?
You can't see it but it actually has a crackle to it.

Look at the additional photo below,
the withering vines seem too dry to do anything.

But it is all part of the process
and picking too soon will only yield
under-ripe, overly-wet produce.

saint george court, warwick, ri, linda maintanis, governor francis farms

Friday, September 4, 2015

Saint George Court, Warwick, RI - Butternut Squash Bounty of Governor Francis Farms Gardens

While we've been enjoying the splendor of these last few weeks of summer some mighty big things have been happening on Saint George Court. Butternut squash that was planted by the base of Turtle Pond Wines' grape arbors has been steadily producing a bountiful harvest!

Saint George Court, Linda Maintanis, Warwick, RI  Governor Francis Farms

Saint George Court, Linda Maintanis, Warwick, RI  Governor Francis Farms


Saint George Court, Linda Maintanis, Warwick, RI  Governor Francis Farms

Saint George Court, Linda Maintanis, Warwick, RI  Governor Francis Farms

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bird's Nest Fungi on Saint George Court, Warwick, RI Tropical Mushrooms in Governor Francis Farms

While watering tomatoes this week I noticed a cluster of teeny-tiny 
cup shaped mushrooms in the compost. Memory flash to the guide books 
I read last year on identifying local fungi; I had seen this one before. 
Yes indeed, a quick trip to Google gave me the positive ID I needed. 

I had found Bird's Nest Fungi!

Notice the immature fungi; creamy beige, with a raspy exterior. 
They will soon open up to spread their spores.

Read more about the fungi here: Bird's Nest

Saint George Court, Warwick, RI Governor Francis Farms, Gaspee Bird's Nest Fungi

Saint George Court, Warwick, RI Governor Francis Farms, Gaspee Bird's Nest Fungi

Saint George Court, Warwick, RI Governor Francis Farms, Gaspee Bird's Nest Fungi

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Vertical Gardening on Saint George Court, Warwick, RI Reaches New Heights!

Amazing things are happening in the gardens on Saint George Court. Butternut squash was planted at the base of the grape arbor, as it was last year. The location produced about a hundred pounds of butternut that lasted until February 2013 and we knew that we would replant there this time. With just one catch...

Saint George Court, Governor Francis Farms, Warwick, RI
The squash would go vertical.

Instead of creeping and climbing like an octopus with fifteen foot long arms I would train it to climb up the arbor towards the canopy of grapes overhead. With a bit of garden wire the butternut vines have been lifted and teased into the strong trunks of the grapes.

In this photo to the right you see butternut squash approximately two months in the ground. It has been gradually trained up the trunks of the grape vines forming a weave of squash blossoms.

The baby squash are peeking out of the vines everywhere!


Saint George Court, Governor Francis Farms, Warwick, RI

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Governor Francis Farms Gardens Grow Bigger and Better Saint George Court, Warwick, RI

Seriously? I never expected my tomatoes to outgrow this years' innovative new stake system. With about six and a half feet of stake above ground I thought that my tomatoes would never make it to the top. Instead I find myself at the end of the pole, literally.

James Maintanis, Saint George Court, Warwick, RI - Governor Francis Farms

As you can see here the Costoluto Genovese tomatoes, near the cucumbers at the right rear,  and the Yellow Pear tomatoes, at the forward end, have reached the top of their stakes.

We measured today and have recorded SEVEN feet and four inches! HOLY TOMATO!

Let me give you a few points of reference. The eggplant in the front, left corner is about 34".
And the frame of the raised bed, by the cobblestone pavers is close to a foot, at 10".

Do the deductive reasoning.



Linda Maintanis, Saint George Court, Warwick, RI - Governor Francis FarmsThe cucumbers at the other end of the beds were planted in boxed cages. There are nine of them total and we have picked about a dozen cukes so far. Check the Food for Thought blog soon for ways to use cucumbers!

Eggplant progress is much better this week. There are five trees and each one has some heavy produce setting up.


Linda Maintanis, Saint George Court, Warwick, RI - Governor Francis Farms