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Grafting Cucumbers And Pickling Radishes

Horticultural Specialist Wenjing Guan shows White Violet Center intern, Liv Charlton, how to graft a cucumber scion to a squash root. (Candace MInster/WVCEJ)

This week on our show we visit the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice at Saint Mary of the Woods College in Terre Haute. We check in with Garden Manager Candace Minster about their participation in a study on grafted cucumber plants with a researcher at Purdue.

Harvest Public Media continues their five-part SNAP series, with a story about immigration and food assistance.

Chef Daniel Orr has an idea for Spring Radishes, have you tried pickling them?

Coping with a Cold, Wet Spring

A few weeks ago I paid a visit to the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice At The Sisters of Providence of St Mary of the Woods in Terre Haute, Indiana.

I wanted to find out how this cold, wet spring has been affecting the start of the growing season in Indiana.

I also wanted to learn more about a cucumber grafting study I'd heard about.

Candace Minster was the one to talk to. She's the Garden Manager at White Violet.

To call it a garden is a bit misleading. It is more like a small-scale farm. They've got five acres of certified organic gardens, a couple of acres of fruit trees, and they raise alpacas for wool, and chickens for eggs.

The garden provides fresh produce for the Sisters of Providence living and working at Saint Mary of the Woods.

They also run a CSA, sell at the Downtown Terre Haute Farmers' Market, and stock a newly opened Farm Store on site.

The center also serves as an educational space, and in some cases, a place for research.

I met with Candace out in the garden on a damp and cloudy day in late April. She said she would normally have all the cole crops planted out by now, but with the ground so wet, they couldn't till the beds for planting.

But rain wasn't the only problem. Candace talks about how they deal with plant tissue damage caused by late-season freezes, and how the unusual spring conditions put the farm behind schedule.

Cucumber Research

White Violet Center is in its second year of participation in a cucumber grafting study with a researcher from Purdue. Wenjing Guan, a Horticulture Specialist at Purdue University is hoping to extend the season for heat-loving cucumber crops, by grafting them with winter squash rootstock. She's working with eight Indiana growers, providing them with grafted seedlings to test out on their farms.

So far, the study has shown that grafting can help growers get an early start on cucumbers. The plants with winter squash rootstock can tolerate lower temperatures than non-grafted cucumber plants, so growers can get them into the ground earlier in the season. Not only does production start sooner, it also lasts longer, and the overall yield is increased with the grafted plants.

Guan says that after the study is complete, the next phase will include educating growers on how to graft their own plants. The procedure is delicate and time-consuming, so some farmers may choose to purchase grafted plants instead of producing them on site.

Guan recently held a workshop for staff and interns at The White Violet Center, to learn more about grafting, and to try it out themselves.

Stories On This Episode

Vacant Lots Often Put Housing And Food Advocates At Odds

Vacant lots represent both decay and opportunity in cities across the country. But what happens when two opportunities – food security and housing – collide?

Obama-Era Rule On Calorie Labels Takes Effect

Large restaurant and grocery chains across the U.S. must now post calorie counts on menus after an Affordable Care Act provision took effect.

Unauthorized Immigrants Shy Away From Signing Kids Up For Food Aid

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