Integrated Pest Management in the School Garden

aphids on tomato plant

aphids on tomato plant

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the term we use to describe the methods involved in controlling animals and insects in the garden.  Before listing them it is important to point out the following:

1) Not all insects in the garden are harmful. Familiarize yourself with who the good bugs aka beneficials are and those that do the most harm.

Good Bugs – See Meet the Beneficials, a pdf poster from IPM Online, University of California Davis that illustrates the various natural predators and parasites that feed on common garden pests.

Bad Bugs – See Plant Pest Identification Chart from Dept of Entomology, Texas A&M University .

2) Frequent monitoring of your plants is essential. Don’t let a little problem become a big problem. The earlier a problem is addressed the more quickly and easily it can be solved. Careful inspection of your plants should be done on a regular basis. If you’re fortunate enough to own a greenhouse careful monitoring of your pants indoors is recommend as well. (If you’re in the UK, Argos has a great range of greenhouses.)

3) Some level of damage can be tolerated. A few wormholes on your leaves is not going to destroy your plant. However if unchecked, and they start feeding on the grow tip the plant will not mature.

These are five methods of IPM:

1) Plant Selection
A healthy plant is better able to withstand its environment than one that is stressed by improper fertilization, irrigation, or being planted out of season. Remember to plant cool-weather crops in the fall (in California) and warm weather crops in the spring.

Plant selection also includes the planting of specialized crops. Some plant varieties are more susceptible to pests than others. Choosing the right variety may be all that is necessary to ensure a healthy plant. For example tomatoes labeled with a VFN designation are better able to resist the diseases caused by Verticillium, Fusarium viruses and Nematodes (microscopic worms that feed on plant roots). This information will be readily available in most seed catalogs.

2) Physical Barriers
A good example of physical barrier is a fence. If deer or rabbits are a problem in your garden the area will need to be fenced. Bury the fence about one foot deep to keep burrowing animals out. If gophers are a problem you will need to place chicken wire below your raised bed. Floating row covers and bird netting are other examples of physical barriers.

3) Traps
Insect traps use pheromones, visual lures or food to attract pests and capture them. Pheromones are the substances female insects use to sexually attract males to them. Visual lures use colors and shapes to attract pests.  A good example of a trap is the yellow sticky card that keeps whiteflies off your tomatoes. Aphids and white flies as well as other small flying insects are attracted to the yellow color and are then entrapped in the glue. They are not effective in a very large area but for a small school garden they are effective.

Another example of a trap is to lay a wooden board down in your pathway raised a few inches on one end to attract snails. They will try to hide there during the day. Simply turn the board over and remove the snails.

4) Biological Controls
Biological Controls rely on the use of living organisms called natural enemies or beneficials to eat or kill the pests. Two well-known beneficials are ladybugs and green lacewings.

Another biological control is BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a microorganism that occurs naturally. It is very effective with worms and caterpillars that congregate on the underside of green leaves such as beets and chard as well as on the leaves of the entire Brassica family. BT is diluted with water and sprayed onto the underside of leaves.

5) Pesticides
Pesticides are used as a last resort. If you must use a pesticide, choose the least toxic yet most effective product that targets the pest but does not also kill natural enemies or is harmful to pets and other animals. Insecticidal soaps usually fit this bill. To learn more about pesticides see National Pesticide Information Center.

For more detailed information on IPM, see Pests Listed According to Vegetable.

A Garden School Grows in Africa

Students at MDFT Primary School

Our story begins with David Gido, Headmaster of the Making a Difference Foundation Tanzania (MDFT) Garden School, a small primary school in Arusha, Tanzania, the gateway to the best Safaris in Africa.

As a teacher, David wanted to do something about the growing number of HIV/AIDS orphans that were not attending primary school. He started tutoring about 10 children after school and the numbers soon grew. He then enlisted the help of a few of his school colleagues and paid them from his own meager salary. Soon, kids as young as 3 years old were walking very long distances to attend David’s school, which by now became the only viable education option for many of these families whose parents make on average about $2-$3 a day. Although there is currently a government initiative for change, most Tanzanian public schools are not free and parents must pay fees along with buying uniforms and supplies.

David grew up as an orphan himself. He was born in Rwanda, where his father was killed in the Hutu/Tutsi conflicts.  His mother returned to her native Tanzania, and as is common, David was not well accepted by his new stepfather’s family. As a result, he has a soft heart for indigent children who face a life of extreme poverty and difficulty because of circumstances outside their immediate control.

David felt such empathy that with his own money he rented a building and started a school. His objective was both simple and lofty – to create an education model that can make a profound and lasting difference in the students’ lives in order to transform their future. It is his wish to educate Tanzanian’s next scientists, business entrepreneurs, social developers and decision makers.

Around this time a kinship began on Facebook between David and Matinga Ragatz, an innovative and dynamic high school teacher in Michigan. Among her many accomplishments, Matinga was named Michigan Teacher of the Year for 2010/11 and in 2011 became a NASA certified Educator.

Matinga immediately felt a kinship with David as a teacher that aims out of the box.

“We began to dream together,” she said. “David wants to provide an education that truly makes a real impact in these young kid’s lives. We are collaborating on this prototype hoping to collect data and demonstrate an effective education model that can help transform the skills needed to provide a better quality of life for our students as well as for their community.”

One of their benefactors is Todd “TJ” Duckett. He is a former NFL running back and now a philanthropist and founder of New World Flood, an organization focused on encouraging young people to take up the slack during the economic down turn through volunteering and service to their communities. TJ visited the MDFT primary school in the summer of 2011 and is the inspiration behind the naming of the school farm, the Flood Garden.

On the MDFT blog, David explains it this way, “We decided to call our little farm the Flood Garden because we intend to flood our community with children who are skilled and able to take up the current economic slack and help fix the immediate issues in their own communities. We also want to FLOOD the community with innovative ways to improve their diet, income and budgets from the ideas of our little urban farm.”

From the start, the school farm was imagined as an integral part of the school.

“The school farm would help us diversify our income, start a parent cooperative where they could exchange sweat equity for school fees, create outdoor classrooms to lessen overcrowding within the traditional 4 walls, replace the immediate need for traditional books, labs and other conventional resources (the farm is the best textbook!!), introduce a better diet for our school meals program, create Kitchen Garden models to spread to our community the idea of growing one’s own food in a crowded, low income urban setting, and among many, many other things, create a place were our teachers could learn and innovate their lessons and skills every day!”

The MDFT teachers, although young, are very enthusiastic about participating in the Flood Garden learning model. The idea of making a Maasai style house as an outdoor kitchen came from them.  They are interested in teaching history to the students by showing them traditional Maasai building techniques. Currently the teachers make less than $1,000 a year, which is not enough to provide them with a living wage, so the teachers sleep in the school at night.

Along with this dedicated teaching staff, David has been able to gather support from parents, students and community members. Because they are low on funds they are able to find resources in the form of knowledge, materials, and care. One of the first people they met was Cecilia, a local community member with a degree in Agriculture who is turning her property into a nursery for exotic plants and ponds. Cecilia has been incredibly supportive and generous with her time consulting with the school staff on horticultural matters.

The MDFT Garden School is like a small seedling. There is still much room for growth.

Phase 1 is the current Primary School Garden (ages 2-7) with an emphasis on curriculum and self-sufficiency.

Phase 2 will be to expand the school physically to allow students to continue their education throughout their school careers (ages 8+).

As Matinga explains, “We want to study the impact of our education model on the future economic opportunities of our students but we cannot do that if our students leave our system at age 8.”

To this end David and Matinga are hoping to purchase 10+ acres of land that would allow them to:
a) build additional space for the school
b) expand farming efforts to provide a better meal plan for the students
c) expand the farm (both crops and fish ponds) to create a surplus they could sell
d) build dormitories and provide a better environment for the homeless children
e) expand the farm to create a Farm Cooperative for widowed mothers
f) expand their project-based education model to provide an innovative Career/Technology Education program for middle and high school students.

Unfortunately, there are currently no funds available for these programs. In the near future we hope to initiate a Kickstarter.com program as well as other fundraising efforts to raise money and awareness.

I’ll keep you posted.

Teachers at MDFT Flood Garden

Left to right (a friend of the teachers), David Gido (in blue plad), Teacher Loveless (pink vest), Head Teacher Jackie (in Red), MDFT Parent helper (in back), Teacher Nixon (in black jacket), Vanessa (5 year old MDFT student) on the day we broke ground

“GROW TOGETHER” WITH ONE SEED CHICAGO IN THE YEAR OF THE HERBS.

Kids in Hoophouse

The following is a guest post from OneSeedChicago.com. If you are a Chicago gardener please vote, everyone else, take notes, perhaps you’ll be inspired to start a similar program in your city.

NeighborSpace’s One Seed Chicago project lets Chicago gardeners vote on their favorite seed then distributes the winning seed for free to encourage urban farming, healthy eating habits, and sitting down for meals with family and friends.

CHICAGO – Gardeners across Chicago started the New Year by voting for their favorite herb seed for One Seed Chicago and the winning seed will be mailed to them for free. This year’s candidates are basil, chamomile, and cilantro. As in previous years, One Seed Chicago will teach Chicagoans how to grow the winning seed in their garden. Local chefs and foodies are encouraged to submit original recipes for the community featuring any of this year’s candidates to demonstrate how easy it is to go from garden to plate.

“For the fifth year One Seed Chicago is uniting Chicago gardeners,” said Ben Helphand, NeighborSpace Executive Director. “By planting a common seed, backyards, windowsills, community gardens and balconies across the City will be linked together in a season-long celebration of urban gardening and local eating.”

The three candidates were selected at the annual GreenNet Potluck. Community gardeners from across the city took part in a One Seed Chicago primary election which narrowed the race to the three herb candidates. In addtion, this year One Seed Chicago is expanding voting even further, offering schools, offices, garden clubs and wherever gardeners gather the opportunity to host a polling station.

“This being an election year, we thought we’d celebrate our democracy by growing new voters along with seeds,” explains Helphand. “Gardeners who want to host a polling station can download a ballot, poster and Teacher’s activity guides from the One Seed Chicago website.”

Voting
Voting began on Sunday, January 1, 2012 and continues until April 1, 2012. The winning seed will be unveiled at GreenNet’s annual Green and Growing Fair at the Garfield Park Conservatory. To vote simply log onto www.OneSeedChicago.com.

Origins of One Seed Chicago
One Seed Chicago is a project of NeighborSpace, Chicago’s land trust for community gardens. Entering its fourth year One Seed Chicago aims to introduce more Chicagoans to the joys and benefits of gardening. Previous winners: Sunflower 2008. Blue Lake Pole bean 2009. Beebalm 2010. Swiss chard 2011. Since 2008 One Seed Chicago has distributed over one million seeds to Chicago residents.

About NeighborSpace
NeighborSpace is a nonprofit urban land trust dedicated to preserving and sustaining community managed open spaces in Chicago. Their growing network of gardens provide thousands of people the opportunity to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers; to restore habitats; and create unique gathering places in their own neighborhoods. NeighborSpace’s partners in the community can rest assured that the land will remain dedicated to conservation and their efforts will never be displaced. For more information, please visit www.neighbor-space.org.

Seed Starting for the Spring

Sunflower Seeds awaiting harvest

Sunflower Seeds

New 2012 seed catalogs have started to show up in the mail. Still makes me feel like a kid to peruse them while dreaming about what gourmet treats we’ll be cooking up with all that we harvest.

Now that the winter break is over it is time to think about what we’ll be planting in the spring and then to start those seedlings indoors.

Warm-season crops include those from the Cucurbiticeae Family (cucumbers, chayote, melons, pumpkin, squash, watermelons) and Solanaceae Family (eggplants, tomatoes, peppers).

Vegetables with larger seeds like beans and corn that we also plant in the spring are better off sowed directly in the soil after the last frost.

For an introductory handout see Starting from Seed.

For more extensive information See Plant Propagation from Seed from the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Three seed companies I recommend:

Botanical Interests – Large selection of organic varieties.

Pinetree Garden Seeds – Smaller packets, smaller prices.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – Large selection of heirloom varieties.

A vast child obesity gap between affluent city, lower-income one

Manhattan Beach has the lowest child obesity rate in L.A. County, Bell Gardens the highest. Their demographics are starkly different, and residents’ perceptions on the issue can contrast sharply.

By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times

Doris Chang limits her three sons’ intake of sweets and doesn’t feed them any processed or frozen food. At their Manhattan Beach home, she monitors the boys’ time in front of the television and keeps them busy with baseball, basketball and karate.

About 20 miles to the northeast, Lorena Hernandez takes her 6-year-old daughter to McDonald’s at least twice a week and frequently gives her Kool-Aid and soda. They go to the park often, but when they are in their Bell Gardens home, the television is usually on.

The families’ divergent attitudes toward food and exercise reflect just part of the challenge facing officials as they try to close a vast and costly gap in obesity rates across the region.

Just 4% of children in affluent, mostly white Manhattan Beach are considered obese, the lowest rate countywide, according to public health officials. In poor, predominantly Latino Bell Gardens, the rate is 36% — higher than in any other city.

Click link above to read entire article.

Unromantic Truth: Gardens are hard work

By Tricia Elisara, KidsInGardens.com

Often, the clear-eyed observation that “gardens are hard work” is an argument given for NOT starting a garden.  I believe, however, that this truth is one of the most compelling reasons to (ahem) dig in if you hope to teach character education.

In the spring of 2010, Julian Elementary won a National Schools of Character award from the Character Education Partnership.  As such, a team of staff, teachers, and one parent (moi) attended their national conference last year to accept the award.  Funding had been made available to produce a 10-minute film highlighting how character education is taught at the winning schools.  We hired First and Main Media, and they produced a gem of a video, which is now featured on the CEP’s website.

After attending the conference last year, I noticed that the idea of school gardens as vehicles for character education was absent from the three-day series of workshops.  As such, I returned to the conference this year with colleagues to lead a session entitled “Gardens that Grow Character.”

The intersection of gardens and character education is a theme I plan to explore periodically on this blog, and I thought I’d lay down some history, starting with this film. If you’re in a hurry, the garden makes an appearance at minute 6:20.

Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program 2012

Please read thoroughly. Applications are now available online only through Yvonne Savio. You must be on one of her email lists to receive application link.

MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEER TRAINING PROGRAM

13 Saturdays, March 3 – May 26, 2012, 9am-4pm

January 6: Last Day to Get Onto Elist to Receive Application Link
January 15: Last Day to Submit Completed Online Application

WHO CAN APPLY
• Any resident of Los Angeles County with an email address and computer access. Most communication will be by email and websites.
• Anyone who wants to help teach low-income and limited-resource people how to grow more nutritious vegetables and fruits.
• We especially invite residents of inner-city neighborhoods and bilingual gardeners.

HOW TO APPLY
• You must be on either or both of our resource elists – 1) Community Gardening and Food Security, 2) School Gardening.
• If you’re not on either elist, email ydsavio@ucdavis.edu by January 6, 2012 and indicate which elist you want to be on (you can be on both).
• If you’re already on either or both elists, email ydsavio@ucdavis.edu by January 6, 2012 to receive the online application link.
• Complete and submit the online application by January 15, 2012. No application will be considered before then.

WHAT WE’LL DO
• Accept 50 applicants. Main criteria for acceptance: 1) prior community service, 2) know gardening basics, 3) passion for helping low-income
gardeners, 4) given presentations, 5) work well with people of diverse backgrounds, and 6) initiative in starting and carrying through projects.
• On February 1, 2012, we will email you whether or not you have been accepted into the program. Don’t contact us earlier.
• If you have been accepted, we will email you a Live Scan form and list of Live Scan locations in L.A. County for required fingerprinting and criminal background check by the U.S. Department of Justice. This must be done for us specifically, only at these locations, regardless if you’ve done it for another agency. Note differences in prices, hours, and whether an appointment is required.
• If you have been accepted, we will email you instructions on joining our MGs-only Yahoogroup. You can use either your existing email address or your new Yahoo email address to receive all of our MG emails and materials. You will receive LOTS of emails!
• On February 15, 2012, we will post onto the MG-only Yahoogroup your first assignments due on March 3, the first day of class.
• Teach you how to garden successfully. Topics and garden activities will cover basic plant science, propagation, fertilization, irrigation, soil, compost,
vegetable and herb and fruit gardening, flowering plants and trees, Integrated Pest Management (diseases, weeds, insects, small animals), tools, how to start community and school gardens, and outreach techniques.
• Provide you with Volunteer and Continuing Education opportunities all over Los Angeles County.

WHAT YOU’LL DO IF ACCEPTED INTO THE MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEER TRAINING PROGRAM
• By February 14, 2012, mail the Live Scan form completed by the Live Scan operator to: Valerie Borel, U.C. Cooperative Extension, 4800 E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90022.
• By February 14, 2012, pay course fee online with credit card, or mail check for $200 made payable to “UC REGENTS” to: Valerie Borel at above address. Low-income residents pay only what they can afford—see application for details.
• By February 14, 2012, join our MGs-only Yahoogroup and make sure you’re receiving postings.
• By March 2, 2012, become familiar with our Common Ground public website and our MGs-only Yahoogroup website.
• Attend 13 classes on Saturdays, March 3 through May 26, 2012, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, at our office. Some meetings will be at other garden sites;
we encourage carpooling with classmates. After the first class on March 3, only one class may be missed – and only with prior notice.
• Give gardening workshops at community gardens, school gardens, seniors’ gardens, housing development & other low-income gardens.
• Answer gardening questions at gardens and fairs, on the phone at our office, or by email from your computer.
• Help with program activities and workshops at the UCCE office in East Los Angeles.
• Post all your Volunteer and Continuing Education hours on our online Statewide MG Volunteer Management System (we provide instructions).
• Starting in June, attend monthly MG Continuing Education meetings on the second Saturday of every month at different garden locations.

WHAT YOU’LL GET
• University of California California Master Gardener Handbook; and discounts on other UC publications.
• Certificate of Completion of Class Instruction—after completing the 13-week training program and passing the take-home, open-book examination.
• Monthly Continuing Education meetings with speakers and activities on in-depth gardening topics.
• Frequent emails of Volunteer and Continuing Education opportunities and other program information.
• Annual recertification as an active MG after you post online at least 50 Volunteer hours AND 15 Continuing Education hours by May 31, 2013. (Future years’ annual requirements are 25 Volunteer and 15 Continuing Education hours.)
• Joy and satisfaction that you’re helping other gardeners grow more nutritious vegetables and fruits, you’re making new friends, and we’re all working together to beautify our neighborhoods and “Green LA”!

For More Information – Email Valerie Borel at vtborel@ucdavis.edu by January 12, 2012