I felt like we were playing poker in class Friday with Food Commanders.  With gardens being in for 1 to 2 months in our East Tennessee homes, the teens were comparing who had what bugs and who had more!  As we started class talking about how the gardens were coming along, I received my first data from the teens on produce coming out of the gardens!  How exciting to hear I picked my first tomatoes, I got my first peck of onions!  Not a lot of produce yet, but it is coming.  Some even commented that the strawberry plants they thought were dead, have come back and are looking really good.  Another teen brought their disposable camera back in full of pictures!  I cannot wait to develop them this week, and share next week some of the progress these teens talked about.

After figuring out who is starting to harvest, and who should start getting produce soon, we started talking about the bugs they were seeing.  One started with I have beetles on my corn!  (all excited he had a pest in his garden)  Another had holes eaten out of the leaves of their bean plants.  So, a perfect opening into our discussion for today, how to use the spinosad that is going home for pest control!  As we began the discussion of what might be eating the bean leaves and describing a lady bug looking bean beetle, the young man with the corn beetles energetically pipes up I have those on my bean plants!  I could not believe the excitement of the idea of finding bugs in your garden.  The teens thought it was amazing!  To keep the bugs from destroying all their plants and vegetables, we went over how to mix and apply the spinosad.  We also talked about a beetle trap for the Japanese beetle on the corn and diatomaceous earth for the bean beetles, and potential flea beetles that one young man thought he had on his lettuce – he said they hopped.  I am off to the store this week to get beetle traps and diatomaceous earth.  I only wish they would have brought some pictures in so I could have shared the bugs they saw.  After giving beef jerky out to the ones who brought in pictures and data, I am sure next Friday I will see more pictures and data!  What will the treat be this week?

In the picture above is our intern, Bobby, who is tilling up a garden at Rural Resources and preparing it for fall crops.  Bobby has graduated from our teen program and is currently interning for the summer at our farm working in the garden area.  He interned last summer as well and helped raise food for our CSA customers.  He is planning a career in agriculture and has become very involved this past year with his FFA chapter.  Bobby has become our own personal animal whisperer.  He has a way with the animals on the farm, and they all seem to love him.  There are pigs that I can chase for 2 hours before they do what I want.  Bobby can go out and they will follow him where ever he wants them to go!  He also delivered our fall pigs when mom was in distress and the babies were coming out backwards.  He seemed to know what to do, jumped in, and began pulling the babies out so we would not lose the entire litter and mom.  He joined our program in 6th grade and will be entering 11th this year.  We expect big things from him!