by Matt Selic

With the summer season officially here, we have been dutifully toiling away in our garden under the hot sun, caring for all of the beautiful green plants that have sprouted and blessed us with their presence and beauty.  With a great heat wave upon us, and no rain in sight, it has certainly been a challenging season for gardeners and farmers everywhere.

Fortunately for us, we decided to construct raised garden beds this year, comprised of alternating layers of stray and compost, that have allowed us to better retain moisture in our garden even through periods of drought.  These beds are also further protected by a final layer of stray mulch on top, helping to shield the delicate soil from the intense, hot sun, and keeping it moist.

Now if only our concerns ended with the unrelenting heat!  This year has also been a challenging one for pests, namely bugs in the garden that are ever so fond of our delicious greens.

We were quite dismayed to see more than a few of our crops disappear very quickly at the hands of both the flea beetle and the cucumber beetle.  Often farmers will use what is called row cover, which is a protective sheet placed over the rows of crops early in the season, to help keep out unwanted visitors.

At this time of year though it is usually too late, as many of the offenders are already settled in underground.  This year we have opted for a few different approaches in attempting to ward off our uninvited guests.

Firstly, as a short-term measure to curb the rapid disappearance of our plants, we applied neem oil to all of the affected foliage.  Neem oil is a natural pest deterrent that is derived from the Neem tree originally found in India. It is not a pesticide, but rather an all-natural and safe alternative to pest management.

As a more long-term approach, we are hoping to naturally balance the pest problem with the introduction of frogs in our garden space.  We are planning to create a few small ponds inside the garden fencing to create an environment that would be suitable for our little green friends, in the hopes that they will indeed create balance once again within this space.

On a more positive note, we have two lovely helpers from Germany, Melinda and Larissa, who have graciously volunteered their time over the next month to help shape and maintain our garden.  Over the next month we will be adding paths and structures to our garden space to really give it some added definition!

As always, we are happy to accomodate any volunteers who wish to share their time and experience with us. . . or even just drop us a line and say hello!  You can contact me at: mselic@gmail.com.  Please note the change from the email address listed on the last newsletter.

Look forward to hearing from you.  Happy gardening!