Hark, the Harlequins are Closing In!

Mid-August is about the time of year when we really begin to see the Harlequin bug show up in our gardens. Widespread in Southern regions, Philadelphia and Chester County are about as far North as this pernicious pest has managed to establish itself.   The Harlequin bug is about the size and shape of a stink bug (with an armored shell protecting retractable wings) and earned its name because of its bright, distinctive coloration.   Harlequins are attracted to all plants within the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family (cabbage, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, etc), and can cause severe crop damage if left unchecked.   The good news is that they are easy to spot at every stage of their development. The bad news is that there are few options for controlling their spread in an organic manner (detailed below). With harlequin bugs the best defense is a good offense, and you can do for your crops a huge favor by catching them early.   If your garden has any of the crops listed above, take time on a regular basis to check the leaves carefully. Often you will find pests hanging out on the underside of the leaves, so some diligence is required. Once you’ve located any harlequins, they can been disposed of either by crushing them or by using the following method.   What you’ll need: a cup or glass of soapy water. A little bit of dish soap is sufficient to break the surface tension of the water, which means bugs sink instead of float when they fall in. Only fill it halfway to avoid spillage.   Harlequin...

SAP America Hosts Garden Olympics

Weeds shriveled! Bugs scurried! The compost pile flipped its lid!   Triskeles was thrilled to help organize the first ever Garden Olympics at SAP America on August 16th. SAP America held its largest Take Your Child To Work Day, with nearly 300 young people in attendance. There were many opportunities to learn about how “The Future of Work is Now” at SAP America, but three groups rose to the challenge of Olympic greatness when they visited the garden.   Four separate events were held, and over 100 youth competed for garden glory. Each of the three visiting groups arrived at different times of the day and the children chose which event they would participate in.   The Bug Hunt tested diligence and attention to detail as contenders searched the garden for bugs, nymphs, larvae and egg formations.   The Weed Pull saw the youth rack up points as weeds were pulled from the raised beds. Extra points were awarded for weeds pulled up by the roots and for entire beds cleared of weeds.   The Compost Turn was a test of strength as pitchforks and shovels were used to turn over two huge piles of compost in the allotted time.   The Hoe Down pitted armed children against pernicious grass clusters growing through the woodchips, with points awarded for piles of the unearthed invaders.     Here are the results: In the Bug Hunt the Olympians in the Red group took the day with 288 points. The Yellow group had 148 and Orange had 131. In the Weed Pull the Red group had a whopping 922 points for first place....

When the Saints come mulching in

Saint-Gobain is putting down new roots and reaching new heights at its North American headquarters in Malvern. In the spring of 2017, the company partnered with Triskeles in an effort to address food insecurity in our region. As the newest member of the Food For All program, Saint-Gobain worked with Triskeles to establish a large raised bed garden with the intention of donating at least 50 percent of the harvest to local pantries, taking their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility to new levels. We welcome their partnership! We recently had an opportunity to sit down with a few of the gardeners from Saint-Gobain who worked to establish the garden in 2017 and asked them a few questions about themselves and their efforts. Colleen Sgarra is a Payroll Specialist who has been with Saint-Gobain since 2016. She has fond memories of helping her parents in the garden as a child. Now, as a mother herself, Colleen is carrying on that legacy by sharing her gardening experience with her five children. In 2017, her participation in the garden added 576 lbs. to the final harvest and impacted more than 2,200 meals. What motivated you to participate in the garden? CS: It was my first year working for Saint-Gobain, and I didn’t know a lot of people. When I saw that there was going to be this beautiful garden space I couldn’t believe I had this opportunity. I thought it would be better than sitting at my desk or in the Café and that it might give me a chance to meet people in different departments, which it did. That was...

Saint-Gobain Earns Impact Award

Triskeles is pleased to present Saint-Gobain with its Initial Impact award. This special recognition highlights and celebrates Saint-Gobain for the company’s outstanding achievement during their first year in partnership with Triskeles and the Food For All program network. In the spring of 2017  the Saint-Gobain Foundation worked with Triskeles to establish an attractive 20-bed garden at the company’s North American headquarters in Malvern, complete with deer fencing, drip tape irrigation and a garden shed. Few could have anticipated the bounty that would come from the first year, or how their investment in the garden program would produce such a windfall for recipient pantries in the area. Colleen Sgarra, a Payroll Specialist with Saint-Gobain, worked in the garden last year and made regular deliveries to a partner pantry in Paoli. “The people there are amazing, and so appreciative. Every time I would go there they would tell me, ‘You don’t understand how important this is. You’re feeding so many families.’” Sgarra added, “Doing that kind of good makes you feel really wonderful.” The 25+ committed volunteers from the Saint-Gobain community worked to bring in a staggering harvest of 3,731 lbs., a per-bed average yield of 187 lbs., almost double the program-wide average. Determined to exceed the 50 percent required donation, the gardeners at Saint-Gobain built relationships with partner pantries in the area and donated 81 percent (3,027 lbs.) of their fresh organic produce to benefit neighbors in need. “It’s great to see what a difference the produce makes for the recipients,” said Lynne Watt, a Manager in Risk Management with Saint-Gobain. Watt also had an opportunity to develop a connection with a...

Cooking from the Garden

June 29th, 2016   Our previous posts touched on the health benefits associated with planting and caring for a garden, but the benefits of gardening are far reaching, extending into your kitchen and beyond. Cooking with what you grow in your garden is one of the best things you can do for you and your children’s health. Not only does adding homegrown fruit and vegetables into your meals improve the taste, but a study by the Journal of American Dietetic Association found that children are more than twice as likely to eat the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies when they are homegrown. Bringing children into the process of growing and cooking their food has been shown to improve healthy eating patterns later in life. When so much of processed and fast food advertisement is directed towards children it is vitally important guide and inform kids on where their food comes from. Being an active participant in the creation and cultivation of your own food can provide a sense of accomplishment and pride, as well as giving you the exercise and nutrition you need. The act of gardening can provide mental and physical health benefits, and taking your homegrown produce into the kitchen can provide even more!   Annamarie Hufford-Bucklin Triskeles Intern   http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1275&page=2...

Cabbage Moth Destruction

  Cabbage Moth Destruction: By now, you have all experienced the sometimes very severe damage that the cabbage worm causes to your plants.  The cabbage worm is a caterpillar that is part of the life cycle of the white cabbage moth.  The moth lays its eggs on the leaves and out come the little caterpillars who munch away and make holes in your leaves, sometimes completely defoliating the plants to the skeleton. This cabbage worm/caterpillar then turns into the pretty white moth you see floating around your garden, and the cycle starts all over again. All members of the Cole family/Brassica family are affected, and the only way to control the cabbage worm is to spray BT. This natural basilis comes in two forms that are commercially available. One is called Dipel Dust and the other is in a liquid form, simply called BT. The liquid form of the BT is diluted with water at 4 tablespoons per gallon, which will treat up to 8 beds of brassica plants; a 1/2 pound bag of Dipel dust will do the same, simply dust it over the plants. You apply both products when the plants are dry and you are not watering, at any time of day,  which allows the substance to be ingested by the caterpillars. At this point, you need to apply BT about twice a week and remember any rain or watering will wash away both dust and liquid. Members of the Brassica family that are affected by the cabbage worm include: cabbage, Chinese cabbage (Napa), tatsoi, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. This autumn the cabbage worm damage seems to have gotten...