POD 1 included gardening work as well as insect entomology. Last week on Wednesday, September 7, I looked at insects under the microscope. The proper settings for the microscope were finally figured out and I was able to see the bugs well then before.
I looked at multiple insects. I will start out with talking about the beetle. The mouth I observed has claws. Around the mouth, the colors is dark yellow. As well as there are hairs or “whiskers” by the mouth sort of like a mustache. The antenna is rope like in texture and separates very “ropey”. The back has lines that look similar to black style duck tape. The back also appears to have either very fine hairs or dust– perhaps dust mites. I think we humans have almost invisible dust mites that live on us daily, which can only be see under the microscope.
The type of beetle I looked at is called a ground beetle. I did some research on ground beetles and found that there are 495 different species in Vermont and New Hampshire. The exact name of the beetle I saw under the microscope is called a Common Black Ground Beetle (latin name: Pterostichus melanarius). This species of beetles was introduced from Europe. They do not fly. There habitat is primarily in moist woods and wetlands. They like to hide in the dirt, under rocks, under leaves, and under logs. Beetles eat other bugs such as grubs, caterpillars, maggots, earth worms and even different beetle species!
After observing the beetle, I briefly observed two other insects. One was a fly. It was very hairy and its skin was white and black in color. I did not know flies to be hairy until I saw it under the microscope! Finally, I observed a wasp. In my opinion, the skin texture looks like paint, and like a highway road’s yellow lines. I also saw many bumps on the wasp.
This POD was very enjoyable and very laid back. I’ve never had a school program with PODs before but it looks like that this will be a good thing and there will be a variety of things I’ll learn due to the PODs and that I will learn much more than in pervious years. I enjoyed spending time in the garden just picking cherry tomatoes, which there were a lot of and observing insects up close. I learned that when people call bugs “bugs”, that they are actually probably an insect. This has been a good start to my last year!
In the spring we planted some corn in the garden. We tilled up the soil, then mounded it up into rows. Then we planted the seed along the rows. We had many different rows of sweet, pop corn and Indian corn. We took care of it throughout the spring and the beginning of the summer. We watered it when it was young, then when it poked up through the soil we just let it naturally take its course.
We students left on summer vacation. While we were gone the Smokey House program had grade schoolers come in and tend to the corn and the rest of the garden. They came here three days a week like school, but they only did garden work. They had no homework and it was all volunteer work. In the time they were here they took the crops that grew quickly and that kept reproducing throughout the summer, to the farmers market. They took the money they made at the farmers market and split it up individually between all of them.
Now we’re back and fall is coming soon. We are harvesting the corn and the rest of the crops. Every day we have been doing the same thing picking beans and bagging them up. We also have been harvesting sun gold tomatoes, we weighed them to package them. Every Thursday for the first few weeks we have been going to the farmers market selling our crops. Alike with the grade schoolers, we are dividing our profit.
To prep for winter we have been harvesting everything in the garden. This up coming week is our last week at the farmers market for the season. I enjoyed the planting and growing of the garden!!
Last week, Thursday, September 8, 2016, I was assigned to interview someone who operates a stand at the Farmer’s Market in Poultney where I help at our stand. I chose to interview Tom Church of New York state who sells many vegetables. From my understanding, he does not grow any of the vegetables on his own property nor does he assist in the growing process, but rather sources them from organic gardens. His stand is far from all the others due to someone mistakenly taking his spot. He says that this spot is much better for him as he is able to get more customers and there is a nice cool breeze. Tom told me that his favorite vegetable is the tomato. I asked him why he did this for a living and he said he does it to get out of the house and that he receives benefits from the state, so this is sort of a retirement job. Anything that does not sell is donated.
In this photo you are seeing what we believe to be a parasitoid wasp. We found it in a nest on the side of the tutorial building. We took the nest inside and dissected it, we put it under the microscope and saw this little guy. We also saw a couple of eggs that looked like small grubs. They were about a 16th of an inch long.
In this photo we are taking a close look at ground beetles. It was really cool getting to see how their body was really shaped and looking at how the body of the beetles worked. The body consists of three sections: head, thorax and abdomen.
This week’s POD (POD #1) is called “Garden Bounty”. Over the past two weeks, I have been picking a lot of cherry tomatoes. Unfortunately, they don’t sell well at the market as everyone has them. But, they have been selling out at the farmers stand. They taste very sweet. Since eating organic garden grown cherry tomatoes, I am unable to eat the ones sold at the grocery stores. There is a big difference in taste. Tomorrow is farmer’s market, so hopefully they sell better this week!
The school year has finally begun! For the first few weeks we only have a couple students with us in the garden, harvesting and selling produce. While it would be nice to have more, this is makes for a great opportunity to get up close with some of the smaller members of our community; namely, these little fellers:
Called ground beetles, these black, dirt covered buggos are an important member of any garden or farm – and something that many “tidier” ones are missing. Hiding beneath low-growing grass, rocks, or logs during the day, they come out at night to sneak up on and gobble up their prey – including pests such as cucumber beetles and potato bugs.
You normally never see them during the day, so we had to set up a trap to find them. This was done by digging a hole, placing a plastic cup in it, and shading it with a board. Come morning, the students and I stumbled upon this one first – what a surprise! I did not know what to expect when we uncovered the trap, but it certainly wasn’t a dozen black beetles scrabbling at the sides of the cup.
If anyone tries this at home, I have one suggestion: don’t hold them in your hand like I did in the photo! These beetles aren’t really dangerous to us, but they can (and do) bite; which was what one did right after this was taken. It doesn’t really hurt, but still. Also, make sure to check the trap every day you have it up, as bugs will get stuck and need help getting out. Try placing traps next to different shrub growth to see what things live where!