Winter garden work

A few of us met in the field on this beautiful sunny day to check on our winter crops in the hoop house. The young plants look healthy, but they have been waiting during the past month for longer daylight hours before they can resume growing. 

Checking on the winter spinach and tatsoi in our hoop house

We have tried several strategies for making winterized windproof caterpillar tunnels, and found that we had to make a few repairs to some of our tunnels. Fortunately, they must have blown off during a windstorm that occurred in recent warmer weather, as the plants under them were not damaged by frosts. We are still learning a lot about this land, it’s challenges, and how to make use of limited supplies.

Our main task for the day was to put a small dent in our eradication effort of invasive bittersweet, which is strangling some of the large trees at the edge of the field. It will likely be a multi-year project to fully remove the bittersweet, but for our first efforts, we focused on freeing the trees from their strangulation by cutting the vines to the ground, and carefully gathering and bagging any berries from the brush that had been freed. Many of the berries were way too high in the trees for us to access at the moment, so we will likely have to pull seedlings again as they sprout in the Spring.

Asiatic bittersweet in the trees along our Wayland field

Photos and post by Carrie Wager

Winter greens in our hoop house

We have a nice row of greens growing in our hoop house. They might not grow much until the days get longer in February, but we are planning lots of harvest then. We have spinach, tatsoi, bok choi, lettuce, mustard greens, and beet greens. We’ll put an extra layer of cold protection, low hoops with fabric row cover, over them soon.

Harvests

Last week we donated 153 pounds of produce, and this week 72 pounds. And we’re celebrating because this week we crossed the 1000 pound mark! Woohoo!

Photo by Carrie Wager

Today’s Harvest

Another beautiful day out working in our Wayland field! We harvested and donated another 100 pounds of produce to our local pantry, Open Table of Maynard. We were hit by a surprise frost this week – three weeks earlier than usual. Our summer squash was hit pretty hard.

Photos by Kathy Martin

A Praying Mantis (Aurelia’s brother?)

We’ve found many types of insects out in our fields. Earlier in the season, we saw mostly the vegetable eating pests, like aphids, cabbage worms, and horn worms. But now the good guys that eat the pests, are around en force. This praying mantis was protecting our tomato plants today.

The mantis reminds me of our garden’s name. “Aurelia” was the name Hannah, our Field Leader, gave to a mantis that lived on her garden cart last summer – for over 3 months – while she zoomed around the Mass Horticultural Society’s Gardens at Elm Bank supervising everything in her role Senior Horticulturalist. The name Aurelia’s Garden is about the symbolism we learned from the mantis and our intention to work to restore balance to our inequitable food system.

Photo by Kathy Martin

As Hannah describes, “The summer the mantis took up residence with me was one of my most hectic times. I was running all over – I tore my Achilles but had to keep going. When the mantis showed up on my garden cart I started driving more slowly. [I learned] about the symbolism behind a praying mantis choosing to enter a person’s life. The Mantis tells us to slow down, to practice patience and mindfulness, to move and act with more intention and less reaction, and to find balance in life. It was a good lesson for me and for others I worked with.

“When our newly formed team first began trying to find a piece of land for Aurelia’s Garden, we looked in the Sudbury Valley Trustees area. The land is beautiful, and we set our hearts on that immediately. We went to the site one day to walk the field. While there, we found a praying mantis egg case with the late afternoon, winter sun, shining on it. It seemed like a moment of clarity – a moment in time that heartened us all.

“So, the name Aurelia’s Garden is not really about a praying mantis – it’s about hope and balance. The name Aurelia’s Garden is symbolic of our intention to work to to work with hope and passion to restore balance to our inequitable food system.”