Composting, Growing Strawberries, and Potting On Tomatoes – This Week at the TC3 Farm – Student Post By Candice
This week at the TC3 farm we learned about composting. Composting is a natural process of recycling organic material such as leaves and vegetable scraps into rich soil humus. There are many benefits of composting food and other matter. Compost energizes the soil food web, which is made up of microscopic bacteria and fungi, along with earthworms, crickets and many other life forms. Compost enhances the ability of tomatoes and other vegetables to stand up to diseases and may improve their flavor and nutrition. Compost also helps the soil retain as much moisture as possible. You can get compost from a number of different commercial suppliers, but the best compost is homemade! The TC3 farm gets the raw material for making compost from the leftover food served at Coltivare Restaurant, in Ithaca, NY.
We also uncovered the strawberry patch which was under several layers of row cover for the winter, in order to let the sun get to them to enhance their nutrients. Although rained hard we were still able to get the whole patch weeded, mulched with wood chips, and we even replanted some of the plants we grew from runners in the greenhouse over the winter. Strawberry plants are known to have runners – which are stolons that the plants use to vegetatively propagate themselves. Most students offered to take the runners home and replant them last fall, while the rest were planted in the greenhouse to fill in gaps in the strawberry patch at the farm. Clipping the runners from the mother plant allows the mother plant to focus on fruit production rather than multiplying. The runners are doing great, they have blossomed and are now ready for this year’s season!
The class has also learned the importance of potting on plants, or moving them to bigger containers so that their roots don’t get bound before they are transplanted into the field. This week’s plant to pot on was the tomatoes. We have many different verity’s of tomatoes growing in the greenhouse. Some are for the TC3 Farm, others are to sell at market or plant sales like the one we are having at Green Tree Garden Supply at 606 Elmira Rd. in Ithaca (3 consecutive Saturdays from 9am to 2pm, starting May 21st), and some are custom seedling orders from transplant customers. The tomatoes are now hardening off and getting ready to be transplanted. We have been looking forward to getting all of our plants in the ground and waiting for harvest!