Our tomatoes are still going strong! The gardeners have lots of varieties of tomatoes in their beds, from large heirlooms to small random hybrids that popped up on their own.

Beth’s orange tomato

Sandee’s black tomatoes

Blanche’s yellow cherry tomatoes











And one pest that loves tomato plants is the tomato hornworm (which is really a caterpillar that pupates into the five-spotted hawk moth). We found a total of 6, yes 6, healthy tomato hornworms on Melissa and Turner’s tomato plants. And we promptly fed each of them to the Strong Family Farm chickens, who were quite excited for the treats. 

Tomato hornworms can grow to be up to 10 cm (3.9 inches) long!

They are a bit juicy so we used a shovel to carry some of them over to the chickens.













Maureen is growing vibrant gazanias.

A few gardeners are growing flowers that are just beautiful! While the majority of what we have in our beds is edible, there are some really lovely flowers as well, which the farm’s bees certainly seem to like. 

With all the rain we’ve had it’s been a tough year to fight off water-borne diseases. So our Master Gardener intern Vicki Deleo has been helping us scout for disease and makes sure we remove diseased leaves and fruit properly: putting them in the trash can and not in the compost. 

This coming Saturday is the SFF fall clean-up and volunteer appreciation day, so those who are able are invited to come to the farm for 9am to lend a hand with weeding, painting signs, and all kinds of tasks that our nonprofit needs to get done to function at its best. If you are new to volunteering with SFF just come see me in the volunteer center in the garage and I’ll get you set up! 

If you have any questions about the Raised Bed Gardening program you can reach out to us at


Success and Succession Planting

It’s been a busy few months around the farm, including for the gardeners, and I took some time off from writing. 

Cassie’s sage and bunching onions are quite happy.

Some of our crops are done for the season and we have started our last rounds of plantings. Mentor Deborah Winicki of Mon Soliel Farm was with us this past Saturday to show us what we could still plant more of to keep harvesting, also known as succession planting. She mentioned beets, radishes, lettuces, and spinach among others. 

Our tomatoes are going strong, and Cassie’s sage and bunching onions have been looking beautiful. But this hasn’t been a great year for cucumbers, new SFF gardener Sherrie has had the best luck while most of the rest of us have been struggling. 




Swallowtail butterfly that had just emerged from its chrysalis.


Veggies and herbs weren’t the only things growing in our beds, we also had some swallowtail butterflies! The caterpillars loved our dill, and two of them formed chrysalises on my bed. One of them emerged while we were there on Saturday after our meeting and we got to see it stretch its wings for the first time. 







It took hours of weeding and some sturdy boots, but the compost bins are cleaned up.

This year we have also taken over responsibility for the compost bins that Master Gardener Dan Gallagher and his brother had built two years ago. We used some of the lovely compost that was made last year to fill our two new garden beds in the spring, and have a good amount left to put on all the beds in the fall when we close up for the season. 

Next meeting we’ll scout for pests and disease and do some more harvesting. 

If you have any questions about the Raised Bed Gardening program you can reach out to us at 


International Compost Awareness Week

We have compost from last year’s efforts by Cecily, who generously took over the composting at the farm for 2022.

Last week was International Compost Awareness week (May 7-13), so the main topic of our Raised Bed Gardening meeting was, of course, composting. What is it? Why do it? How does it happen? Our Garden Mentor Dan Gallagher, master gardener and master composter, answered these and other questions in his talk. 

So, what is compost? It’s just plant matter after it has decomposed. Simple, right? Well…mostly simple. There’s a bit more to it. Ok, then why do it? The main reason we discussed was to create our own microbiology for the plants in our gardens to thrive on. Most fertilizers are not able to be used directly by plants, they are meant to break down and be consumed by the microbiology in the soil, which the plants then get the nutrients from. So we want the microbiology to be healthy and plentiful. And one way to do that is by composting our plant waste. (Another reason to compost is to save yourself the cost of buying it. Good compost can be pretty pricey.)

As for how it happens, composting is essentially decomposition and it is done by insects and the microbiology. Insects are easy to remember, but it’s vital to remember that the microbiology is hard at work.To start composting, Dan says to make a pile that is 3 parts “browns” (eg, dried leaves) and 1 part “greens” (eg, uneaten vegetation). The “greens” are high in nitrogen and “browns” are high in carbon/carbohydrates. The finished compost will end up approximately 10:1. Two important environmental factors are moisture and temperature; 50 degrees is when the microbiology comes alive and starts working. 

Dan and I found this 2-inch long grub in the farm’s compost. He wouldn’t let me kill it (even though it looked like it was from a sci-fi movie that doesn’t end well for humans) and thinks it is a June beetle grub, which is mostly harmless.

Dan also said that the two best times to start composting are in the spring, when cleaning up the garden/yard, and in the autumn, after the leaves have fallen. Then, whenever you add anything to a compost pile, it has to be covered up by new browns, even by pulling back a top layer and adding small amounts of green under that and recovering. Periodically the compost will need to be flipped, so that it breaks down more evenly. And whatever way you compost, plan on 2 piles: one that is curating and one that is ready to use.

With low temps in the 30s forecasted for this week, most of the raised bed gardeners held off on planting our warm-weather plants last weekend, but we are planning on it at our next meeting Sunday afternoon after the Chicken Run. I can’t wait to get my cucumbers and zucchini in! 

If you have any questions about the Raised Bed Gardening program you can reach out to us at