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Community Kitchen Garden: Home Demo Garden
by Janine Butler, garden volunteer
 
This week we spent some time tending the home demo garden. This is a small raised bed, approximately 4’ by 12’ that shows just how much home gardeners could grow in their own back yard, in a small area. It’s jam-packed with veggies such as Roma tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, and hot chili peppers. There’s also lots of herbs including basil, thyme, and purple basil. What makes this small garden special though is that there are other flowers planted among the herbs and veggies; marigolds next to the tomatoes, and salvia next to the herbs. The addition of flowers takes the vegetable garden from being solely functional to something pleasant to look at. I think a lot of people who might wish to have a veggie garden in their own yard worry that it could end up looking ugly, but as you can see from the picture below, a couple of extra plants can really transform a garden. 
 
 

 

home demo garden

home demo garden

demo garden

demo garden

Some of the necessary chores this week included weeding (of course!) and removing the flowerheads from some of the herbs. Apparently, herbs shouldn’t really be allowed to flower as it makes them taste bitter. Regular harvesting of herbs keeps the flowers at bay, and the plant should continue to grow all season. We removed all the flowers from the basil:

Basil - with flowers

Basil - with flowers

Basil - without flowers

Basil - without flowers

We also spotted a tomato hornworm that had been parasitized by wasps. This is bad for the caterpillar, but good for gardeners as the hornworm can severely damage your tomato plants. My photo isn’t too clear, but a google search shows a much better specimen and explanation

 

 
 

 

Tomato hornworm covered in wasp cocoons
Tomato hornworm covered in wasp cocoons

Back in the main vegetable garden, we continued to harvest squash and zucchini, eggplant, and peppers and we also tidied up some of the zucchini and squash plants by removing dead leaves. We are now mainly in a maintenance phase, reaping the fruits of the hard work already done. When we gather wheelbarrow loads of veggies it’s such a thrill, and knowing that the Central Virginia Foodbank/Feedmore is putting them to good use makes it even better and all the more satisfying. 

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