Landscaping at Its Finest

November 29, 2012
by Frankie Leech
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Grub Control

Throughout the fall season we have been experiencing some problems with the number of white grubs that have been living in our soil. These grubs are a huge problem because they can cause a lot of damage if they aren’t taken care of. White grubs usually feed on the roots of produce. If you have these grubs in your lawn, your lawn will show wilting and browning. If you dare, look up a picture on any search engine.

We are going to spread diatomaceous earth (or DE) on our garden to treat the grubs. DE is a nontoxic, organic concoction made of the fossilized remains of tiny one-celled marine animals called diatoms. Chemically, it’s almost pure silicone dioxide. The absorptive properties of DE is what will act on the grub. The powdery DE will absorb the body fluids and dehydrate the grubs.

If you are using DE be careful if you are applying by hand because it may dry your skin. Industrial grade diatomaceous earth, which has larger quantities of a highly crystallized form of silica, should never be inhaled due to possible health risks for the lungs. Breathing in too much food grade diatomaceous earth may irritate the mucus membranes in the nose and mouth and it may dry out your skin. Once the dust settles, it does not pose a threat.

We can’t wait to lay down our DE!

Check out our sources for more information:

How to Control Grubs, White Grubs in Lawn, Diatomaceous Earth, Diatomaceous earth has many benefits

October 7, 2012
by Frankie Leech
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Weaver’s Way Field Trip

The garden committee and volunteers went to Weaver’s Way. After taking two trains from BMC, we got a tour once we arrived at the site. Among the variety of produce, the sorrel (lemon doc) was our favorite! Kristina and Frankie participated in a pie eating contest. Frankie won, and received a yummy bag of produce. The Bryn Mawr women had a fabulous time.

The farm

December 3, 2011
by Avery Martin
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The Question of Productivity

Recently the garden committee has been re-assessing our goals for the garden. In these past few years, the garden has been able to meet the minimal needs of the dining hall, but for the most part has remained a garden for beautification and recreational purposes. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, we are working with a small space (about 50’50), with little room and funding for expansion. We also do not have a strong core of volunteers, nor do we have a supervisor who can harvest things on time. These things are necessary for managing a successful production garden.

This is why this year the garden committee has committed to re-designing the garden, fostering better connections with on and off campus contacts, and trying to expand the garden and push for its visibility on campus. As a production garden, our garden will require extensive planning and volunteering to maintain the crop yields as the primary goal for success. For this reason we are working on improving our organization and record keeping, securing a paid supervisor position and core of volunteers (we are reaching out to postbacs, grad students, staff and faculty now), and getting feedback from the community. Production gardens also base the inventory on what the kitchen needs and when they need it not the other way around. To make this switch, we have identified year-round produce needed by Haffner, and are working with them to make sure we can grow and harvest these produce on time. For a production garden we’ll need to have 3 plantings: one in April, one in May and the third in mid-summer. This is subject to change of course- but it’s a start! Once more, we are re-designing the beds to maximize our production. Previously, we had five circular beds, with a good amount of space in between. We will now have six long triangular beds, as well as beds on the side of the garden for staff use. Once we have assessed our growing ability, we will look for other spots for expansion.

It is my hope that in achieving these goals we will make the garden into more of a community “democratic” space, that is responsive to the needs and desires of its community. Recently I sent out a survey to BMC members, and out of the 60+ responses I received, over 70% of respondees desired a garden which provided food to the dining halls. 48% of respondees desired more work and harvest days, and almost 45% of respondees wanted to see the garden incorporated into educational plans. This year we will make it a priority to achieve all three of these requests.

We will have a garden work day next week, Friday Dec. 9 from 10:00 a.m – 1:00 p.m. to reconfigure the beds. Stop by and help out, and learn more about our upcoming projects!

September 19, 2011
by Avery Martin
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Fall Harvest

This fall has been a particularly busy time for us members of the garden committee. For two of us (myself and Kayla), this will be our last year working with the garden, so we are trying extra hard to make this last year count. It has been amazing watching our garden turn from a barren plot to a colorful and productive one in the past two years. Our garden is flourishing, as one can see from our fall harvest:

 


Aside from the watermelon, asparagus, and pumpkin shown in the picture, we also planted tomatoes (TOO many), white beans, snap peas, cabbage, okra, basil, lemon mint, blueberries, kale, golden and red potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, summer squash, among others.

Last spring we made some amendments to the garden, adding two plots on the sides of the garden for dining hall workers to plant and harvest things of their own (we had previously had the problem of people planting seeds without our knowing). Arthur, a nice man who works in Haffner dining hall, has in particular expressed much enthusiasm about this, and we now often find him working outside in his plots, harvesting crops ranging from corn to cocoa. It has been exciting seeing what sorts of things will pop up, and how they fare in our garden’s soil.

In addition, we have added a soaker hose to water the plants, and have been trying to spruce up the garden by adding student artwork. Last spring Maiya organized the making of a student mural, which now lights up the space and attracts much attention from passerby. This fall we also added a bird bath to the back, which we hope will attract some friendly creatures!


However, this being our second year, we have also inevitably encountered a few garden pests and problems. The tomatoes, which we caged, grew too thickly together, and now many of them have become diseased or sickly. We are hoping to get better caging for this year, as well as take caution with their location. Some plants received too much or too little water depending on their location from the soaker hose – a problem which can be solved easily! The pumpkins, alas, did not cope well during late summer, and being situated next to the compost bins in the back and in an area that doesn’t drain well. Yesterday I went to pick some seemingly healthy ones, only to find that they have become victims of bacterial wilt; little cucumber bugs had made their way from the compost to the bottoms of the pumpkins, and made their homes among moist ground and mold. In the future we will have to be better prepared to prevent and to deal with these problems.

Perhaps our biggest problem, and one that could have prevented much of the trouble discussed, has been harvesting our vegetables in time. Whereas our garden has flourished under the care of the committee and the support our school and the Greens have provided us financially, we fear that the only way to ensure its longevity is to have a paid student position for a garden supervisor. At the moment, we have been making great efforts to harvest these vegetables and to encourage others to do so, but once again, because this is a college garden, most individuals are too preoccupied to bother harvesting or tending the garden in general. Currently we are trying to make a listserv of volunteers who could help us harvest, as well as expand our scope to include Batten House and perhaps Perry House in the gardening process. It is my hope that we will be able to involve more community members in our garden, and host open meetings for curious members of our college to attend.

Lastly, we are hoping to have a late fall/winter harvest, which will require us to utilize the greenhouse much more frequently!
Be on the lookout
for information regarding our harvest and planting days, as well as events and updates!

March 16, 2011
by Avery Martin
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A Recap: One Year in the Making

Almost a year has passed since we planted our first seedlings during the 2010 Earth Week. Our first gardening event brought together members of the Bryn Mawr community in a collaborative and cooperative effort to transform this barren plot of land beside Haffner Dining Hall…                                                                      …into this:

In the Process Finale!

There are four beds circling around a raised center mound. In the back we placed a bench next to our new apple tree!

Since then, we have been lucky enough to see our garden grow and prosper. Although we tend to think of our first harvest as an “experiment session”, it turned out to be much more than that. In this small plot of land we were able to successfully grow a variety of plants such as lettuce, chard, spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, watermelon, turnips, celery, tomatoes, blueberries, & herbs such as basil and rosemary. Many of these were later used in dishes in both Erdman and Haffner dining halls.

LettuceBok Choy!Mustard Greens!

From left to right: Lettuce, Bok Choy, Mustard Greens
(Photo credit: Renee Byer)

Our garden’s success even captured the attention of Bryn Mawr faculty and staff! We were pleasantly surprised when other crops planted by the dining hall staff started appearing. Red bliss and yukon gold potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, red & back beans, corn and even pumpkin sprouted out over the course of the summer.
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More corn and pumpkin were showing up every day!

Of course, growing such a variety of fruits and vegetables turned out to be quite a chore. I was able to coordinate with garden volunteers and dining hall staff over the summer to ensure that the area was sufficiently watered and weeded, but there were still plenty of times where our garden was growing too voraciously or where it looked too sickly. During our first few gardening phases, problems such as these suggested a need for better long-term planning. For this reason, we are planning to start this semester’s crops ahead of time in the science building’s greenhouse, and pay more more attention to our succession planting strategies when we plant them in the ground. Another method I would like to use in the future would be crop rotation, saving any legumes such as peas and beans for the winter months, or to try companion planting, where these same crops are planted beside those that require a lot of nutrients. These methods ensue soil regeneration, so that we don’t have to worry about overworking the area or relying on heavy fertilizers. Other smaller problems that we encountered are also being addressed. For instance, initially there was no compost bin nearby to draw compost from, or to put in compost-able materials such as weeds. This year we have installed a bin on site where volunteers can place these materials. We have also budgeted for a better irrigation system, so that volunteers do not have to drag out a large hose or buckets of water during their shifts. In the future, I would like to consider installing a rain barrel nearby so that we can also use rainwater for watering purposes.

Overall, this first year had many challenges and many rewards, but I can honestly say that the rewards far outweighed the challenges. Over the scope of a year, our community garden has already evolved into a multi-purpose space, serving as an area for education, social collaboration and communication, and even for relaxation. This year, we aim to take that to a new level by encouraging further collaboration between students and staff (be on the look out for our new mural!), by hosting public events such as Meditation in the Garden, and by providing greater and more diverse amounts of fresh, local fruits & vegetables to our school community.

One of my favorite memories from this summer was stretching down in the garden with some yoga moves after a long day of weeding and watering.

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