December 2023 Garden Update

December 2023 Garden Update

Freshly harvested garlic is hung from the ceiling to dry.The growing season officially came to an end with our final planting in mid-November. Our friends from Khmer Maine and 4-H joined us as we celebrated the beginning of our partnership by planting garlic and eating delicious treats, such as homemade num kroch (or nom kroch), a traditional Cambodian snack. The garlic planted this fall will be harvested in the summer, dried in our shed and donated to local food pantries. We’ll also set aside some garlic seed (the larger cloves) to be planted next fall and the cycle will repeat again. 

This year, our Maine Harvest for Hunger plots yielded over 1,500 pounds in donations to Wayside Food Programs. We were pleased with the diverse crops that were able to withstand the extremely wet weather in the early summer.

Tidewater staff work on installing the Coolbot cooler.

With the help of a newly installed coolbot cooler, our goal is to increase the quantity and variety of crops we grow next season. Fresh-cut flowers were also harvested from the gardens by Master Gardener Volunteers who made bouquets for various recipients, including those receiving palliative care through Northern Light Health. We’re excited to continue this particular partnership, growing more flowers with a dedicated group of volunteers.

A group of staff and volunteers gather in the high tunnel to plant native seeds.The gardens and continued expansion projects have been “built” by many hands and are often the result of multi-year efforts, such as the continued management of invasive plants. We’re thankful for our committed group of Master Gardener Volunteers, whose consistent maintenance and care make the gardens what they are. We also hosted two Maine Horticulture Apprentices, Vanessa Seder and Annika Schmidt, who shared their time, energy and knowledge at Tidewater Farm this year. Thanks to their hard work we were able to finish our infrastructure projects and keep the gardens running smoothly. To celebrate all of their efforts, we gathered in early December to sow native seeds, share food and exchange stories with one another. 

As we reflect on the season and what we accomplished, we want to thank all of our community partners, including the Cumberland County Food Security Council, Eden Brothers, Falmouth Land Trust, Falmouth Foreside Garden Club, Gorham Bike and Ski, Khmer Maine, Maine Audubon, Northern Light Health, Pine Grove School, Wayside Food Programs, and WMTW Channel 8.

Thank you and see you next year!

Abigail Griffith and Pamela Hargest

Wildlife Sightings

Part of the mission of tending to a diverse farm and garden is providing habitat for wildlife and the greater ecosystem. On a daily basis, we are lucky to encounter the wildlife that live in, feed on or pass through Tidewater Farm. By highlighting our wildlife sightings, we hope to promote a sense of curiosity and a reminder that we share this space. 

This year, Tidewater Farm was home to at least one groundhog (or woodchuck, depending on what name you prefer), observed early in the season, munching on some carrot tops. Later we found a burrow hole entry and would often see it grazing on clover nearby in the afternoons. Fortunately our resident groundhog didn’t cause too much damage to our crops. We put hoops and mesh row cover over specific crops in our Market Garden to deter deer and groundhogs. 

Groundhogs live in grassy areas in the summer where they dig a burrow with two or more entrances. The main entrance is large and more obvious, with a pile of dirt outside of it. The other entrances are dug from below the soil surface and act as hidden escape holes from predators. Within the burrow system, a groundhog will typically excavate a nest chamber and a separate latrine chamber. Burrows can extend 1 meter deep to 50 meters long! When temperatures dip below 50 degrees, groundhogs relocate to their winter burrows in more wooded areas.  They are one of New England’s true hibernators and typically lose 20 to 37% of their weight before emerging in the spring. We will be keeping an eye out for the return of the groundhog to its summer residence. 

For more information about woodchucks, please visit the Woodchuck Species Spotlights from the Maine Department of Inland and Fisheries.