8/3/23 Pantry Garden article Contributed by Gwen Herzog, WCHI Pantry Garden Chair
What do you get when you combine sunny, hot days, warm nights, ample rain, great soil, well-established plants, and a great group of volunteers? You get one rocking garden! I am writing this article on July 27th and this week we were able to pick 47 zucchini, 22 yellow squash, 28 bell peppers, and 6 tomatoes. Our zucchini and yellow squash beds are really loaded up with plants and wow – they keep producing and producing. Even with all we picked in July, there is a constant supply of new growth which means a constant supply of new vegetables to pick. I’m not going to lie, when we were planting the seeds, I did drop 3-5 seeds in each hole I dug, so there are lots and lots of plants in each bed. So many that it can sometimes be a challenge to monitor and get in there to pick. I also think that from the time I arrive at the garden to cut the grass and when I get ready to leave, the zucchini have grown larger! I know this is not likely the case, but I’m sticking to my story.
At the beginning of July, a large quantity of tomato plants in pots were dropped to Shari Noctor’s office. We promptly planted them in a portion of our “U” bed, caged, and watered them. While they are a little smaller than the rest of the tomato plants, they are growing well and about to flower. Thank you to our mystery donor for this great gift!
As you know, with any vegetable garden there will be issues. After treating our eggplants for flea beetles, we are now seeing lots of flowers and a few small eggplants. The groundhogs have also seen the small eggplants and have taken a few bites, so this bed was fenced. In early July the leaves of our pepper plants started getting eaten prompting treatment, but pepper production has not been impacted. While it has been exciting to see some of our early tomatoes change color, the groundhogs have been eating the change. The tomato bed has therefore been fenced but it is not fully deterring these determined critters, so more aggressive action will have to be taken.
As I mentioned in my last two articles, WCHI is a Lehigh Valley Plant-A-Row drop off center. If our pantry cannot give away donated produce through our monthly food distribution or at our free community meals, it will be shared with another food pantry. On July 24th we donated 18.1 pounds of vegetables we grew at our WCHI garden along with donations to the food pantry at St. Stephen’s Church. Don’t forget, any extra produce you grow will help to feed a food insecure household when you donate it to WCHI and Lehigh Valley Plant-A-Row. Call or text me at 610-379-6823 to arrange for pick up or you may drop it at Re/Max Unlimited Real Estate at 1080 Schadt Ave, Whitehall M-F 9 am– 5 pm.
Although it is hot outside, we are planning our fall weather crops. Our plan is to get winter squash seeds into the ground very soon and try again to grow some cabbage and cauliflower. We plan to purchase some plants from The Seed Farm in Emmaus. Located at 5854 Vera Cruz Road, The Seed Farm will be holding their fall plant sale Saturday, August 12th and Sunday, August 13th. A partner of Second Harvest, plants are grown using organic practices. Why not try some fall crops in your own garden?
We always need help to weed, water, plant, harvest, and control ground hogs. Please join us at the Mickley-Prydun Farm at 3540 South Ruch Street, Whitehall on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. We love having visitors!
In case you were wondering, here is our year-to-date harvested vegetable tally: 129 zucchini, 80 yellow squash, 21 bags of radishes, 15 tomatoes, and 28 bell peppers.