Monday, May 10, 2010

May Crop Mob at Kestral Perch Berry Farm- Recap & Photos!

Many thanks to Jim Bosjolie for the great photos!
"More grows in the garden than the gardener sows." - Spanish proverb

Ithaca's last frost date is in early May, and we were all reminded of that fact this past weekend. Weather reports for Saturday warned of strong winds, a steep temperature decline into freezing, and an 80% chance of precipitation. So it was with some trepidation- and a strong sense of purpose- that the Crop Mob gathered at Katie Creeger's Kestral Perch Berry Farm at Ecovillage on Saturday morning. 

But imagine our surprise when the gray-blue clouds above our heads gave way to warm, yellow sunshine when we began to work!

Our first task was to cover Katie's strawberries with floating row covers to protect them from the coming cold. Row covers blanket the crops, allowing sun and water to filter through while keeping the temperature underneath nice and toasty (about 2-4 degrees higher than the temperature outside). Gathering rocks from a nearby pile, we weighted the covers down at the edges to keep them taut so they wouldn't get caught by the wind.

After that, we began our next task: weeding and hilling the berry bushes.

Katie explained the importance of selecting high-quality bushes when transplanting- some of hers had suffered from being left in their original growing cones too long, and their root masses were root-bound. Her land is also sloped, and the downhill rush of water had left some bushes at the bottom of the slope stunted. Hilling the raspberries would help prevent erosion, as well as prevent waterlogged soil at the bottom of the slope. Weeding would not only allow for happier, more nourished plants, but would make picking easier when berry season arrived.

Meanwhile, some of the group split off on a rescue mission- to locate young elderberries that had become lost in a jungle of weeds! The grasses and weeds we were pulling from the raspberries became compost for these little guys.

As the morning went on, we were visited by a few guests- a reporter and photographer from the Ithaca Post interviewed some of us in between the berries. Our Ithaca Times representative took photographs and interviews as well! We look forward to seeing their articles.

Finally, at 1:00, we gathered in Ecovillage's SoNG Common House for a delicious meal of homemade vegetable soup, rolls, rice crackers, hummus, apples, and berry spritzers made from Kestral Perch's own berry syrup. It was wonderful!

All in all, we weeded and hilled six rows of raspberries, saved strawberries from the coming frost, and recovered elderberries from the depths of wild vegetation. And we managed to get it all done before the rains came... and then the snow!

Thanks again to Katie Creeger and everyone who came out. Look out for details on June's Crop Mob, coming soon!

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