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Squash vine borers are killing our zuccinni, summer and buttercup squash!  We probably discovered this too late, but we wanted to share with you what we’ve learned.

This is an adult squash vine borer moth.  They lay eggs that bore into the vines and kill they plants.

This is what the stem of the vine will often look like once infected.

And the maggots that are living contentedly inside of your plant.  😦

So here’s what we’ve discovered:

Squash vine borers lay eggs at the base of the plants, which upon hatching bore into the stems to feed.  They live inside of the stems preventing water from reaching the rest of the plant.  After feeding for about four weeks, they leave the vine and bury themselves one or two inches underground until next summer.

Symptoms of the borer include wilting plants, holes and a moist sawdust-like material at the base of the plant.

These pests are difficult to manage once present in the crop.  One way to prevent the moths from laying eggs on the plant is to wrap the base of the stem with aluminum foil or nylon stockings.  Also, covering the plant with row coverings until bloom can protect it from the borer.  Companion planting with repellant plants—catnip, tansy, radishes, nasturtiums, or marigolds, beebalm, or mints is also helpful.

Once the squash vine borers dig in, there are a few options for saving your plants.  Physically removing the maggots from the stems is one way.  Once you have killed any borers with the tip of a knife, mound moist soil over the cut area and keep this spot well watered.  New roots may grow along the cut stem, allowing the plant to survive.  Bacillus thuringiensis, or bT (a naturally occurring bacterium common in many soils around the world) can also be sprayed on the plants.

Helpful websites:

on Squash Vine Borers-

on bT-


So I got home late last night and saw a large bag of fresh picked produce sitting on my counter from our work day earlier. I had Kale, Swiss chard, a carrot, lettuce, peppermint, a jalapeño, and lots of purple pole beans. Normally I would shove the bag in my fridge and either figure out what to do with it later or forget about. So, I started cooking and planning out meals. Here is how my night went.
1. Peppermint tea: 3 large sprigs peppermint, black tea, and 2 spoonfuls of honey in a carafe topped with hot water and left to steep. Mmmmm! Can you say Moroccan?
2. Swiss Chard Rolls: All I did was prep the Swiss Chard for this idea but I’m going to do an Asian spin on a traditional dish of beef stuffed cabbage. Instead I’m going to use Asian seasoned tofu (including the jalapeño pepper) and roll in Swiss chard leaves and bake in the oven. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
3. Frijole-Mole: This is a recipe I followed from Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. It’s a spin on guacamole using green beans. Here’s the recipe.
1/2 pound beans, trimmed and steamed
1 coarsley chopped onion sauteed until soft and transparent
3 (I used 2) hard-boiled eggs
2 cups fresh basil leaves (imagine me at midnight trying to pick 2 cups of basil leaves with a flashlight under my chin in the rain!)
1 Tbsp lemon juice opt
Mayonaise or plain yogurt
Kosher salt and pepper

Coarsely chop all ingredients but mayo or yogurt in a food processor. Mix in mayo just to bind it all together. I used 2 tablespoons. Voilà! I’m going to serve it with Kale chips which I learned from my friends Jay and Cari Niewiek. Just roast kale with oil, salt and pepper until krispy. Not exactly chips but so tasty.
4. Salad prep: I prepared my lettuce to make an easy salad and sliced up my purple carrot (beautiful) and put it on top. All I need to do is take a little out of my Tupperware container I put it in and toss with dressing.
So, that’s this weeks work week. If you give any recipe a try let me know how you like it.
Stacy Feyer

Along with working at BFVG I am growing a plethora of fresh herbs in my backyard in a raised bed on stilts. I have dill, thyme, mini chives, Italian parsley and basil; tons of basil. I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. I keep picking it and it keeps growing back with more vigor. I can’t seem to give it away fast enough. So, the other day while reading and relaxing I felt inspired to pick most of my basil leaves and make a big batch of pesto to freeze and use in the winter. So I did. I didn’t have all the usual suspects to make pesto like pine nuts, olive oil, or even parmesan cheese but it still turned out brilliantly. All you need is a food processor and some simple ingredients. My favorite way to eat it is smothered on fresh baked bread with slices of fresh tomato (which there are lots at the farmers market!). You can use it in pasta, pizza, chicken, as a salad dressing, in potato salad, with fresh mozzarella… get creative. Here is a simple recipe that you can tweak at your will for great, fresh pesto. Take some basil and parsley home from the garden tomorrow at the bon fire, we have lots.

2 cups basil leaves (packed)
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup walnuts (you can use pine nuts or other mild nuts)
2 cloves fresh garlic
About 1/2 cup oil (I used canola oil because that is what I had. Plain extra virgin olive oil can over power the pesto so try blending evoo with a more mild oil if you choose that variety)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (opt)

Put all the dry ingredients in your food processor and puree slowly adding the oil through the top. Add enough oil to reach your desired consistency and taste it to make sure you don’t have to adjust the salt. Pesto! Use right away or put in freezer. Bon appetit!

Don’t worry.  It’s not an emergency, but a BONFIRE!

This Thursday at 8 p.m.  Bring fireside food, a musical instrument, lawn chairs/blankets, singing voices, simply yourself… anything to celebrate summertime!

Hello fellow gardeners and epicureans. While working in the garden one of the most frequent questions I get is “what do you do with swiss chard and kale?” They are not vegetables I ever remember eating growing up but these dark leafy greens are some of the most nutrient packed veggies with Protein, Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron and Magnesium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. I myself have can count the number of times on two hands I’ve cooked with Kale and chard. The first recipe I made with kale was actually a vegan raw salad with avocado, leeks, tomato, cucumber, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Soooo good but a little daring on your first attempt with kale. From my research Kale, being a much more hearty green can be cooked much like collard greens. Olive oil, tons of garlic, onion, salt pepper and a little saute in a pan. They are done when they become just tender. Chard on the other hand is softer and just needs to be wilted like spinach.  Chard and Kale goes very well with pork or roasted chicken. I recently made a rissotto with Kale which could easily be interchanged with swiss chard. So that’s the recipe for today. Creamy Risotto with Kale or Swiss Chard and Fontina Cheese.


2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup water

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups arborio rice or short grain rice (white or brown)

4 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard or Kale

1/2 cup white wine (opt)

1/2 cup  grated Fontina cheese

1 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup of chopped basil, parsley or both

Salt and Pepper to taste


The key to make risotto is slowly adding liquid to rice bringing out the starches to make a rich creamy dish.  You will need two pans,  0ne for keeping the liquid warm and one for cooking the rice. Add about a cup every time you add the broth mixture and stir occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed, then add more. Combine vegetable stock and water in a sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer and cover.  In a large sauce pan heat the oil and cook the onion till soft.  Throw in the garlic and sauté just until the fragrance hits your nose.  Then add the rice and coat with the oil, stirring occasionally for just a few minutes.  Add the white wine and stir allowing the rice to absorb all the wine.  Once the wine is absorbed begin adding the liquid one cup at a time.  After adding two cups of the stock mixture add the milk in the same method one cup at a time.  After adding the milk throw in your leafy greens.  Continue with the stock.  Taste from time to time and when the rice is al dente stop adding liquid and remove from heat.  This process takes about 25 minutes or longer if you use brown rice but it is so worth it.  Mix the rice with the cheese, butter and fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper.  Enjoy as a main course or side dish.  Great with a glass of white wine.  Hope you like it.

Our second community meal picnic will be next Thursday, July 1.  It shall be a lovely event, a wonderful way to ring in the Independence Day festivities.  Come at 6:30 with a dish to share, as well as your own plate, silverware and cup.  And we will share a meal together!

We are hosting an afternoon camp for children this week!  Here’s the info:

Where: Barefoot Victory Garden (of course!) 1350 Wealthy Street.
When: Monday- Friday (June 21-15) @ 4:30-6:00 p.m.
What: A FREE afternoon in the garden including hands on experience, games, crafts, and learning.
Who: Children children children… anyone that wants to come!

Register by emailing us at or calling 616.558.5096.  (Registration NOT required, just helpful for us planning.)

Hi, I’m Stacy and I am a fellow barefoot gardener and a culinary artist. To help the avid gardener learn to cook with the food they are growing, I have decided to post a recipe every week using an ingredient that is being harvested at present. This week: spinach.

The spinach at the barefoot victory garden hasn’t seen much action but spinach should be ready for harvest about now and is all over the farmers market. This past weekend I catered a rehearsal “breakfast” for a friends wedding and I made these spinach feta pastries called Spanikopita or spinach pies. They were a hit.  All I know is that they are Greek, they are good and they are easy. Typically they are made with fillo dough but to simplify the process this recipe will be with puff pastry. Try and enjoy.

1 lb fresh spinach, de-stemmed and chopped
1 small white or yellow onion small diced
6 oz feta cheese crumbled (2/3 cup)
1 egg beaten
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp vegetable or olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Puff Pastry ( you can buy this in any grocery store in the freezer section by the frozen pies)

Preheat oven to 400. Put puff pasty on counter a few hours before or in the refrigerator the night before to thaw out. In a saute pan heat 1 tsp oil and cook onion till translucent. Remove from pan and place in mixing bowl. In the same pan add 1 tsp of oil and saute spinach till just wilted (make sure to turn often). Place in mixing bowl. To the mixing bowl add feta, garlic powder, about half the egg, salt and pepper and mix evenly. Dust your working area with a little flower and lay your puff pastry on top. Cut dough into 4″ squares. Place a spoonful of the spinach mixture onto each puff pasty. With a pastry brush lightly wet one corner of the puff pastry with the remaining egg to seal the dough. Fold into a triangle and press edges with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or cold. Makes about 10-15 pastries, great for a party. You can also freeze the pastry and bake later. Enjoy!

I took these pictures about two weeks ago and I hate to even post them.  The garden has grown SO much!  Look forward to more updated photos soon.  I am amazed at how fast things grow, especially with all of this rain.

We harvested lettuce for the community meal on Thursday.  It was one of many, many delicious dishes.   The turn out was great: we had about 30 people show up!  We count it a huge success and look forward to the next meal that we will share together.