Thursday, August 12, 2010

Webb City Sentinel - 8/13/10

We have some fun things at the market this week. Today Mary Ann Pennington with University of Missouri Extension will test pressure gauges for free from 11 to 2. If you have a gauge, be sure to bring it. An inaccurate gauge turns canning from good-for-you to dangerous for both the canner and the consumer.

Lynette Rector, our Saturday baker, is trying her hand at the Friday market today. Lynette ran Freda Mae’s Restaurant in Pierce City when she started baking for our Saturday market. She’s done so well that she’s closed the restaurant and is concentrating on her market sales. She plans to have fruit pies on Fridays, along with cakes, and fruit breads. On Saturdays, she’ll have cream pies and breakfast goodies.

Lunch today is Salisbury steak, scalloped potatoes, peas, banana pudding and drink for $6 or a garden salad for $4. The Granny Chicks play from 11 to 1.

Tomorrow, breakfast is served by volunteers from Webb City Lodge 512, Webb Chapter 204 Order of the Eastern Star, and Praying Hands Court 15 Amaranth. They are donating all the profits to the Tri-State CP Center. Our music will be provided by Southwest Missouri Suzuki Strings. These kids wowed us during Arts in the Park last year. They’ll play from 9:30 to 11:30.

We’ll also host a special fundraiser for the local chapter of the Make a Wish Foundation. They will be selling new stuffed animals donated by Precious Moments. It should be a great chance to stock up on Christmas presents and support a good cause. The Make a Wish Foundation works to grant wishes to children with terminal illnesses. It is heart-warming work. You can get more information on the market’s blog:

Update on the Kids Community Garden: Who knew that Japanese beetles in our garden could help create an industry in Kenya? Like almost all gardens and farms in the area, the Kids Garden was hit hard by Japanese beetles – and stinkbugs - this year. It is a rare tomato, pepper or egg plant that we harvest without signs of bugs feasting before us, leaving us nothing to sell and little to send home with the children. Luckily, we devoted about half of the garden this year to cutting flowers so the children have been able to sell bouquets at the market even when produce was not available.

We have a no-spray policy at the garden but we were faced with losing pretty much all the produce so I consulted our market grower Tim Green who normally is all-natural but in dire circumstances will use the most benign sprays available. He recommended Pyrethrin, an organic based biodegradable spray that kills bugs on contact. And this is where Kenya comes in.

Pyrethrin comes from the seed cases of the perennial plant Chrysanthemum chinerariefolium, which has been grown commercially since the late 1920’s in Kenya and the highlands of Eastern Africa. In Kenya, which produces about 70% of the world’s supply, Pyrethrin is in large part grown by small-scale farmers and is a major source of export income for Kenya. So that’s how Japanese beetles in Webb City, Missouri, create thousands of jobs in Kenya.

Just because a spray is organic and biodegradable doesn’t mean it is harmless. Used improperly it can cause headaches and allergic type reactions in the person applying it. It has a one-day post harvest period. In other words, within one day it biodegrades so there is no residue on the produce.

Bearing all that in mind, I sprayed the garden last Saturday evening just before dark, after the pollinators - butterflies, moths, and bees - had become inactive and left the garden. The garden was not harvested until Tuesday morning, plenty of time for the spray to biodegrade, ensuring that the garden is safe for the children to work and the produce safe to eat.

Now, we just have to figure out how to keep the bunnies from feasting on the sweet potato vines! And, sadly, how to keep people from stealing the kids’ produce.
I had urged the little gardeners to be patient. The melons weren’t ripe yet. Well, they were about 5 days from ready last Friday when someone stole them. Our neighbors across the street are wonderful about keeping an eye on the garden but apparently the melon thieves slipped by them. This was not one of the lessons we wanted the kids to learn, but we’ll use it to create problem-solving skills.

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll sit down with the kids and some seed catalogs and choose next year’s plantings. With the stolen melons fresh on their minds, I’m sure melons will not be on the list. It’s a shame because melons are so satisfying to grow. But the cutting garden has proven to be a steady source of market income for the children and we can improve on that. The root crops are undisturbed by marauding visitors. We’ll, no doubt, plant tomatoes again because that is something the children will likely grow as adults but we may cut down on tomato space in order to expand the cutting garden. We’ll talk about sequential planting as well as green manures (we’re putting in buckwheat as a green manure soon and will also plant turnips to turn under before fall to improve the soil). Planning ahead, now that’s a useful life skill.

See you at the market.