Our Week In the Garden!!

September 26, 2010

The weather this week was extremely hot! It was well into the 90s every day and there was no rainfall. Our garden was very thirsty! We went every day in the morning/early afternoon and gave it lots and lots of water. Also, since the garden is right in our backyard, we tried to check up on it throughout the day to make sure everything was still thriving. The weather definitely impacted the garden but fortunately we were able to get it the water it needed. And the garden is definitely doing well! There is lots of growth, and everything is green and healthy. We were a little nervous to thin out the plants too much, so we let everything that was there continue to grow. We did however prune off the dead leaves so that the living parts of the plants could get all the water. All the plots seem to be doing well in spite of the heat, especially the boc choy! We also saw lots of squash and peppers growing and some new tomatoes on the vines. We noticed that the tomatillo plant back by the boc choy lost a lot of its tomatillos but the plant towards the front of the garden with the squash seemed to be doing much better.

We were nervous about how the garden was going to survive the hot temperatures this week. So we felt that our efforts really made a difference. We could see how dry the dirt got between waterings so we tried to make sure we watered really thoroughly every time we went out there. The garden responsibility wasn’t too hard to take on in itself but the heat made the task a lot tougher than we expected. It was even hard just to motivate ourselves to go out in the sweltering heat for just a few minutes. But we knew the garden needed us!! And thankfully, it paid off and now…we have rain!!!!!! Now that the temperatures will become more mild in the next few weeks (hopefully), the fall garden should really be able to prosper! Not to mention that keeping up with the garden should become a lot more enjoyable! We can’t wait to see how our garden blossoms in the months to come!

– Ali and Emily

P.S. We got some pictures of our garden after our week and a full day of rain! ūüôā

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Garden Week 3 – 09/20/2010

September 21, 2010

This week the garden has exploded with growth.  It was once again very hot and very sunny this week.  Because of the intense heat, I decided to water in the evening to allow to plants to drink the water rather than lose it all to the sun.  I believe this plan worked because all the plants continued to look healthy all through the week.

The cucumbers and melons are growing especially well and have a great color to them.  The peppers are also beginning to look good.  The other plants are all looking fine, but are mainly sprouts at this time.  I did have to thin some out a little, but due to my unfamiliarity with the plants I probably erred on the side of caution.

This week wasn’t much of a breakthrough week for the plants, and so there is not much exciting to report. ¬†The plants seem to be growing just as the should. ¬†Hopefully the sun will simmer down with the coming fall in October and give the plants a break from constant heat. ¬†If everything continues along the current path, then we should have a great crop come harvest time.

Adam

The garden made a lot of progress this week, despite the pretty intense temperatures. The highs were in the 90s all week, and to top it off there was absolutely no rain the entire week. Consequently, keeping the garden watered was priority number one. We decided to try a different system of watering than the previous group, and instead water the garden at about 5:30 pm each evening. After visiting the garden a few times a day early in the week, I realized that early in the morning the ground was pretty damp from the overnight dew. And, if we watered in the middle of the day, it was so hot that much of the water would be lost to evaporation. So watering at 5:30 gave the plants a break from the heat and it was just cooling down enought that more water could be absorbed. Given the current state of the garden, I think we succeeded. At the time of this posting, every newly seeded patch has sprouted its respective crop, and the existing plants are thriving. We removed what little weeds were in the garden, so the plants are definitely recieving a lot of TLC. The plan has now turned to tending the new crops and even harvesting some of the growth. The tomatoes are quickly turning red and the cucumber/melon patch has a¬†bunch of delicious looking produce. Our new patches are growing quickly, so we have begun “thinning” them by removing the small sprouts so the big ones can get even bigger. So far, the bok choy has gone crazy and I am pretty sure I can see it getting bigger by the day. I am confident that in the next few weeks we will have an abundant source of fresh food and I can’t wait to start cooking with our creations.
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Student # 2 diary:
Like mentioned above, we found the best time to water the garden was in the evening, and consequently alternated days of doing so. Taking care of the garden this past week turned into a show-and-tell experience for me!! When my dad drove me back to campus after my labor day weekend at home, I took him with me to check on and water the garden. He was so impressed. I proudly pointed out the plot of squash that I planted the first day, and had an overwhelming sense of pride in our class’ work. Dad and I reminisced on the garden we had in our backyard when I was about 4 years old– all the hours I spent running around eating the green beans my dad would hand me straight from the earth. I’ve realized gardening has a social aspect to it. I believe it’s good for the soul to have something to take care of. When that responsibility is shared among a few people, having a flourishing garden is a bonding experience – especially when the produce is shared in a meal! ¬†I know, this is pretty cheesy, but I’m so excited for when we can use what we’ve planted to cook something wonderful. And hopefully, the garden continues to flourish and survive this infamous Columbia heat.

Saj Success

September 13, 2010

The class ordered 45 lbs of freshly milled emmer flour from Anson Mills (http://www.ansonmills.com). Not only is this flour from an ancient, heirloom emmer wheat originally cultivated in the Fertile Crescent 5000 years ago, but it was grown organically in Blythewood! ¬†I gave the students instructions on how to make dough at home, which they all did with various degrees of success. We got to campus at 8 :15 and with the help of the Green Quad’s permaculturist Matt Kipp we started a beautiful fire. ¬†I prepared some za’atar (a mix that I brought back from Lebanon of dried thyme, sumac, sesame seeds in oil).¬†By the time the students had rolled their bread into a flat circular sheet (and repaired the dough for those few students who had to do a little dough-triage), the coals in the saj were ready to go. Most of the students were able to cook on the saj while a few others made manqushah in the oven.

The production turned out beautiful. Thanks Andrew for taking these pictures!

We started the first week of the garden during some pretty hot temperatures. We didn’t get much rain during the first stages following the major overhaul, so it was especially important to visit everyday. The dirt was visibly dry after only a few hours of not being watered,¬†and soaked up the water very quickly each time. After a few days of doing this,¬†we tried watering the garden a little later in the day around noon for the rest of the week/weekend to prevent it from drying so quickly and letting the garden absorb the morning dew a little more slowly, but there may be a better system than this. We were afraid to do much¬†weeding out of fear of mistaking¬†new growth for weeds.

The garden itself had been newly planted just the previous Friday, so we didn’t see too much at the beginning of the week except for well groomed smaller, freshly planted¬†plots. We were, however, pleasantly suprised to¬†see some serious growth from what we think was the squash. By the end of the week, some of the leaves were as big as four inches long! We were also¬†very excited to see a lot of growth in other areas of the garden, however a bit¬†disappointed to realize there was a substantial possibility that we were seeing the growth…of grass. We let it grow because we could not remember what was supposed to be growing in that one plot, but we should know soon enough if it truly was jsut grass. There were a few melons on the¬†vines, but¬†we did¬†not notice any other new growth from the newly planted seeds or anything else fruiting from the¬†already rooted plants. All in all, the garden seemed to be doing well, tolerating the heat and loving the sun. I found it to be such a peaceful and relaxing opportunity that I decided to go visit the garden on the weekend to make sure it had been watered. Joke was on me. I had a funny mishap with turning off the hose and¬†not heeding the warning about the hose squirting water everywhere…needless to say I was a bit on the drenched side, laughing and waiting outside to dry off. After soaking up the sun, I found myself lingering in the garden for almost an hour because it was simply entrancing. Absolutely beautiful and serene. We’re excited to see what starts growing next!

-Sarah and Tegan