Monday, August 1, 2011


Head over to the CEEDS blog to see more photos of the garden...

PHOTOS! (from the July 23rd work party)

Kaylyn, giving our sign a much-needed makeover.

Kirsten re-seeding lettuce.

A variety of things including kale and cabbage in our coldframes, which are located right about the notorious steam-tunnels--which, although they've caused us a fair amount of angst warm the soil enough that these little guys have been outgrowing their compatriots quite a bit.

Angela, hoeing...

Finally trellising the cucumbers. (Note the exuberant butternut squash plant that's taaaking ovver.)

Sarah and Kaylyn, enjoying our brand new picnic table.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Parties all the time...

I was home this weekend, so I missed the work party, but everyone else got a lot done--put together the new garden cart (!), continued mulching the second site, finished some very lasagna-style, permaculture tree-circles and (as always) did some weeding.

I did, however, bring back a few flats of flowers from my aunt's garden, so the weekend wasn't a total waste in terms of garden productivity. I planted a lot in the bed with the rhubarh and horse radish...some day it'll be a forest garden, but for now it's home to zinnias and this great purple salvia. I also brought back impatients and some other shade-loving plants for underneath the two trees, but have yet to plant them...they're looking a little sad thanks to this crazy, crazy heat, but hopefully they'll get in the ground by our next work party...a.k.a. tomorrow.

We're also starting to get a lot more produce in--there's a shit ton of summer squash and zucchini, and the little ground cherries are ripening, as well as the ever-present crop of greens. Very exciting!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Saturday Work Party

Saturday work party went well: we reseeded a bunch of lettuce, some mustard greens, etc., worked on rescuing the horse-radish and rhubarb from weeds, planted the last of the free seedlings we got from various Smith staff and faculty, and dug some new beds. What we really need to do is figure out some space-holding technique for all the extra shady space in the second site. G suggested ground cover...sounds okay to me, but I'm a little worried about down the line, when we (possibly) will be ruing the day we ever planted red clover or whatever and spend all our time pulling it out of our vegetable beds. At any rate, time to research ground covers...particularly those that aren't interested in taking over the world (or our garden).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Late Introductions

I've been reading through some of the old material on this blog (the proposal and old "about this site" page, which there are links to on your right) and realized that a) some things have changed and b) I haven't really introduced myself yet.

So! The old "about us" page says that one student will be responsible for recruiting and managing a team of volunteers to maintain the garden over the summer. This has been true for most of the garden's (short) history--until this year, in fact. During the last academic year, Angela and Dylan (the garden managers) proposed two internship positions related to the garden: one via the Smith Botanic Garden student internship and one with Dining Services. Both were accepted, so we now have two students whose job descriptions that at least in part relate to the CG.

I'm Alli, the Botanic Garden intern, and have funding from the new Center for Ecological and Environmental Design and Sustaibaility (CEEDS) to spend 120 hours this summer working on community garden related stuff. I've spent a bit of that time actually in the garden, but will spend the majority of it producing a report about the garden and maintaining this blog/work log. Which explains the work log I posted a few days and the speed of new updates on this blog. I'll also be writing blog posts for the CEEDS blog too, which I'll kindly direct your attention to once they're up. Aside from all this, I'm also the summer manager...a.k.a. I live in the garden, and then get paid to write about the free time I spend weeding/hoeing/crying about our bolted lettuce. Woo hoo!

Gemma is the Dining Services intern; her job mostly involves general work for Dining Services and researching local food options for the dining halls. But she also spends a few hours a week in the garden and acts as a liaison between the garden and Dining Services, which has been super great.

Anyways, all that to say hi...and that you'll be hearing from me a lot!

The last of the June work parties

Best way to get people to come to work parties: offer them food. Two new people showed up because I promised lettuce in exchange for an hour or two of work. Some call it bribery, I say it's more like a barter system. Or an exchange economy. Or something.

Anyways, we also sold our first round of lettuce and greens to Dining Services at the Wednesday work party--23 Butterhead lettuce heads, 16 Red Romaine lettuce heads and a bundle of collard greens. We brought them directly to Lamont after picking them--it brings a whole new meaning to "sourcing locally."

And, in the process of harvesting, we learned a very basic rule: don't let your lettuce bolt. I thought I pretty much had that one down prior to this whole shindig, but I dropped the ball a bit on organizing harvesting with Dining Services, and like that all our tender baby lettuce was suddenly sending up flowers and wanting to go to seed before I had solidified plans with the people in charge. Which, of course, meant that some of it was way to bitter to do anything with, and was introduced to our brand new compost bins instead of the dining hall. Ah well...lesson learned. I mean, this is supposed to be an educational experience, right?

We also finally finished pounding in the last few stakes we're using to stake the tomatoes, which means significantly less sag-age and crookedness--always a plus. And we started putting down mulch too, which will hopefully cut down on some hoeing and weeding time, and seeded the next round of lettuce. Oh, the excitement of work parties!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A long over-due update...

We've had a hectic start to a new year over at the Community Garden--a delayed start due to steam tunnel repairs under both of our new sites, lots and lots (and lots and lots) of rain, etc. But we've made it through and the garden is finally starting to shape up--our first round of lettuce is coming in, as are the radishes, some sporadic raspberries, and (very tiny) summer squash. Photographic proof will be up in a few days! And until then, enjoy the oh-so-exciting work log I've been keeping for the folks over at CEEDS--it has all you ever wanted to know--and probably much more--about what's been going on at the garden.


May 21st:

-Ang, G, and I go to the Amherst Farmer's market. Buy approximately $182 of plants, from watermelons and gourds to the good old standbys of tomatoes and kale. Come back around 2 and work till 6ish raising beds and planing on the second site. Earlier, Ang and I sent out emails/texts about the work party for tomorrow...

May 22nd:

-First formal work party. A handful of people show up for a few hours each. Worked from 12 - 7, mostly digging beds and rescuing the herb garden from the mint and dill, which are trying to take over

May 23rd – 27th:

-Rain. Project week/Gaby lets me spend time in the garden during crew: plant basil, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers; seed beets, carrots, parsnips, winter squash and summer squash; get all the starts in the ground—asparagus, currents, rhubarb, horseradish…mini-panic attacks, and much referencing of Barbabra Damrosch’s The Garden Primer. It feels silly to keep a book at hand while gardening, but there’s still so much I don’t know and didn’t learn as a kid. How far apart do you space summer squash? How do you plant asparagus starts? Etc. etc. WEDNESDAY: A and I put together the bench; THURSDAY crew comes to help…but of course, this is when Smith decides to redo the pavement between the two sites, so we can’t build up the beds along the edges of the garden like I had planned…we weed the blues and currants instead; Ollie tries and fails (pretty miserably) to put together the compost bin. Work in the garden pretty much every day from 8 until 6 or so. Accidentally fell asleep on top of the new picnic table (still in its box) while trying to write up a log of this week…oops. Hopefully no one noticed (maybe it’s time to leave the garden for a bit…)

May 28th:

Yet another big garden work party. Snacks are purchased, A etc. all show up with bandanas around their head ready to work. Molly stakes tomatoes, compost bins and picnic tables are put together (it takes five people to take apart and then reassable the compost bin…talk about a non-user friendly design). To end the day, we have a picnic dinner on our brand new picnic table.

May 29th:
I liiiive in the garden. No, really, I do. Seeded more beans, planted cucumbers, etc. Cleaned up the herb garden again and brought cilantro home to add to dinner. In a stroke of brilliance, someone planted the parsley and cilantro right next to each other, and both reseeded themselves this year. Oy. Talk about ridiculous—I had to taste a bit of everything to make sure I had cilantro and not parsley. Maybe I need to work on my IDing skills?

May 30th:

A and G go to the Hadley garden center to buy big stakes and wire for staking the tomatoes (our current stakes are too small and not working at all…). They come back with $300 worth of plants and not a stake in site. Remind me never to let those two go shopping without a chaperone again…

June 1st

Work party was supposed to be today…instead there was a huge thunderstorm and we were stuck inside. G went out to plant in the rain and came back pretty quickly when a branch from the honey locust fell down…

June 2nd:

Most of the trees on campus were unscathed after the storm. One of the few that weren’t? the honey locust in the garden. Naturally, a limb fell on the brand new picnic table—somehow, (miraculously) the picnic table emerged okay. Some of the baby rhubarb was stepped on when Jay and John were dealing with the fallen limb, but it’s not a bad price to pay, I guess.

June 3rd:

Project day, so spend lots of it in the garden…dig holes for the stakes (a few feet taller than me) for the tomatoes…send G to the hardware store for wire; stakes aren’t deep enough, though, and lean in towards each other when you string the wire and tomatoes up. Ugggh. We need a stake pounder….

June 5th:

Went home to plant the family farm’s garden this weekend with A. come back with some parsley, basil, and zinnias from my aunt’s greenhouse. A and M had a small work party on Saturday; they planted some of the babies A and G bought, weeded etc.

June 8th:

Work party. All routine stuff…weeding, etc. suckered the tomatoes a bit…not sure if that’s a real word? But that’s what my family called pinching off the little side shoots tomatoes to encourage vertical growth.

June 9th

Was planning on staying in the garden and was rained out (again). Yet another big storm…what is this?!

June 11th

Rainy work party. Hoed and weeded and hoed and weeded and hoed. So many weeds…that’s what we get with all this rain. High point of the day: Thinning the turnips and having turnip greens for dinner.

June 15th:

Work party! Hoed and weeded some more (can’t keep up with these little buggers—must investigate mulch options). Joanne and her adorable daughter showed up with strawberries from their garden; J’s daughter tried to excavate the manhole while we weeded and planted seedlings J brought from her garden. Also managed to procure heirloom tomatoes and summer squash from one of the gardeners at the Botanic Garden. I’m loving this whole “Give the community garden your extra seedlings for free” deal.

June 20th:

Meant to go to the garden after work today, but cut my finger on an exacto knife while taking cuttings and (grumpily) decided to go home instead.

June 21st:

SO MUCH LETTUCE. Sat in the garden and wrote to do list…needless to say, there’s loads and loads to do. But it’s great to see things growing (baby squash! Blossoms on the cucumbers! Lettuce and lettuce and more lettuce!) Am planning a potluck-y deal for CG people during/after the work party on Saturday. There will be lots of salad.