The demonstration vegetable garden at the Northern Neck Farm Museum near Burgess, one of several demonstration gardens maintained by NNMG, produces a variety of vegetables and fruits. Each week during the growing season, the harvest is delivered to the Healthy Harvest Food Bank in Warsaw. Susan Losapio and Bonnie Schaschek head up the Farm Museum garden project.
In 2020, the garden yielded 1,500 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for the Food Bank. This year, as of the end of November, the garden has produced more than 1,100 pounds of produce. The garden continues to produce kale, Chinese cabbage, and cabbage. The Swiss chard, which had not been doing well, is finally making a rebound.
Sweet potatoes rank at the top of the list of best crops. They are easy. We planted them and essentially forgot them until harvest time. They required virtually no maintenance and produced more than 100 pounds of ready-for-Thanksgiving sweet potatoes for the Food Bank.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash were also at the top of the 2021 best crops list. We had one planting of carrots, and that crop also performed well.
The Master Gardeners planted okra for the first time and it did well. The variety selected for planting was relatively pest free and produced a high yield. The blackberries overall did not fare as well this year. The Master Gardeners plan to rejuvenate them next year by cutting them down further than has been done in the past and replenishing the soil around them.
Insects are almost always a problem. We always seem to be battling hornworms. This year harlequin bugs attacked the turnips early in the season. Armyworms on the tomatoes were a complete surprise; however, an application of BT insecticidal soap (Bacillus thuringiensis) seemed to help on the young worms and we handpicked and dispatched the larger armyworms.
In other garden news Tom Osborne, Pete Kauneckas, Trent Jones, and Bill Bell helped Ian Cheyne and project manager Jim Myers build an 8’ x 12’ shed to store equipment and other garden tools. Foundation work for the shed was completed by Ian Cheyne, Jim Myers, and Lynn Osborne. Lynn also made sure the construction crew had lunch each day.
Earlier in the year, Tom Osborne designed and fabricated a new 4-bin composter to replace a much smaller 10-year-old compost bin. Jim Myers helped with the construction of the new composter bin.