BY AMANDA MOSES
The Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) has flourished over the summer. August’s harvest has yielded bright red heirloom tomatoes, white eggplants, emerald green cucumbers, sweet-smelling lemon grass, and spicy red and green peppers. The summer harvest has been successful for a number of reasons: plenty of sunshine, water from the garden hose and rain-storms, weeding maintenance, nu-trients in the soil, and pollinators.
Garden Educator Jacqui Roytman has worked closely with members of Spring Creek Senior Partners’ (SCSP) Gardening Club to plant, weed and water all of the vegetation in the UGC. Weeding and watering may seem like monotonous tasks, but these simple acts are crucial. If there are too many weeds within the garden bed, a plant will not be able to absorb the right amount of water, nutrients from the soil, and the sunlight needed for photosynthesis may be obstructed.
Aside from the human aspect of maintaining the garden, insects also play a big part in blossoming vegetation. Pollinators are among the most beneficial insects to find in a garden because they spread pollen. At the UGC, if you quietly observe the numerous flower beds, especially the Zinnias, you will see bumble bees and various butterflies probing for nectar (and spreading pollen from its wings and bodies to other plants). Once the pollen has been spread to other flowers, these plants will grow fruits, seeds, or more flowers.
A few other helpful insects are ladybugs, praying mantis, spiders, and ground beetles; each of these insects preys upon bugs that are harmful to vegetation in a garden. For example, aphids are tiny, light green insects that suck on a plant’s sap. A large infestation of aphids can cause a plant’s leaves to wilt or turn yellow because of the excessive removal of sap. Ladybugs, spiders, and ground beetles eat the aphids, thus forming a natural pest control. Praying Mantises are intimating looking creatures that are attracted to cosmos, marigolds, and dill flowers. These carnivorous insects are about 0.5 to 6 inches long and eat moths, beetles and crickets (each of these bugs feed on plant leaves, which can damage garden crops).
Roytman has told the SCSP Gardening Club and many of her classes that a garden is like a miniature ecosystem with its own life cycle. The atmosphere and the creatures inhabiting the garden allow it to grow and flourish.
Photos by Amanda Moses