SLUG in the winter!

Greetings garden enthusiasts!

Welcome back to this blog and to the bright new year of 2015. Here’s hoping spring springs itself upon us sooner rather than later, and that silly little woodchuck family decides to nest on the banks of another sustainable operation! One can only wish, though.:)

SLUG is still extremely active in the wintertime. We compost every day, Mon-Fri. M/W/F we collect food waste from Andrew Commons at Lawrence University and T/T we collect food waste, brew mash, and coffee grounds from Aspen Coffee, Copper Rock Coffee, Stone Cellar Brewery, and the newly opened restaurant Rye! We’re stacking this compost alongside our 90ft hoophouse to keep it nice and warm. (Ready for sprouts and starts at the beginning of our season!)

We would like to publically thank and applaud the many beautiful and hard-working volunteers that showed up in SLUG to help us on Monday for LU’s MLK Day of Service. There was about 50 of you- and we accomplished SO many things in the garden that would’ve taken forever without all of the support. The day was perfect, too- movie snow fell, there were no woodchucks in sight, and I swore Professor Bjornerud planted the best sprouts we have ever seen. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

SLUG meets every week. Wednesday, 7PM, Youngchild 218. Come down and plan the upcoming #HOMEGROWN Conference 2015 and get updates about getting dirty!

Much love,
Cate (Cake)


So proud and happy to be featured on Lawrence University's official Instagram! Here are some of our beautiful volunteers flipping one of our compost piles.

So proud and happy to be featured on Lawrence University’s official Instagram! Here are some of our beautiful volunteers flipping one of our compost piles.

House member Luke led a group of volunteers in the task of cleaning up our shed. They did a great job!

House member Luke led a group of volunteers in the task of cleaning up our shed. They did a great job!



Our beautiful hoophouse with our beautiful volunteers.

Our beautiful hoophouse with our beautiful volunteers.

Fall 2014 In Pictures

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The Battle of Memorial Hill

12 days. 2 managers. 5 woodchucks. 127 mice. 4,978 voles. Unlimited birds. 1 mission.


As you may have judged from our last post, SLUG has been in transition since August 17th, 2014. We have spent 12 perilous days and nights out on the terrain, fighting The Battle of Memorial Hill. With the glorious end in sight, history books will soon reflect our journey, chronicling the sweat, tears, and infinite buckets of water that have been shed. Oh- I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll begin at the start of our journey. 

The morning of August 17th was nothing out of the ordinary- unavoidably cold, beautiful, and exciting. We drudged out of our mosquito-netted hammocks at 6am and scaled Memorial Hill expertly to reach our battlezone, SLUG. We were confronted with the same garden we had always seen, but for some reason, our perceptions became heightened, and we realized the severity of our situation. Stumped-out zucchini littered the ground, overshadowing the half-eaten tomatoes that were haphazardly strewn about. (I mean c’mon woodchucks, you couldn’t even clean up after your dinner?) Our cucumber bed was yet again trampled and eaten, despite the GENIUS spraying of coyote pee, a tactic taken from the terrible Appleton Coyote/Hyena War of 2003. What lay in front of us was no longer 32 beds, a 90 foot hoop-house, and infinite possibility for personal growth among perennial growth, but a warzone on the brink of collapse. We had to act fast.

We consulted General Clark, an expert in Croc trivia and guerrilla-gardening tactic. After pacing up and down the woodchipped veins of our fallen fortress, he spoke the greatest words ever known to be heard in those hallowed halls: “Cate, Aiden, if there was one thing I could tell you, it would be this: Mankind must put an end to war, before war can put an end to mankind. IHRTLUHC.” (This soundly oddly familiar to a JFK quote, but we knew that General Clark had spoken from his heart.) Flabbergasted and humbled, we watched in awe as he called his trusty steed, a ravenous and terrifying lil puppy, and strolled away with no further comment, only stopping to admire our newly constructed compost bins. And just as quickly as he had come, he was gone in the wind.

“Was that just real life?” inquired Aiden, “or was that fantasy? I feel as if I’m caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.”
“Oh, my child,” 
Cate said, sprouting a Dumbledore-esque beard, “Of course it’s happening in your head, Aiden, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

It was then when we realized what had to be done. Blasting the battle anthem “Flawless”, by Beyonce, we drew up our plans and started our journey. The plans are of course top-secret, as I’m sure you all understand, so all I can share are a few “code words”: kale. mizuna. tot soi. starts. in. beds. cilantro. greens. netting over greens. reinforce fencing. plant radishes. flowers. cover crops. chard looks excellent. eggplant. more radishes. save cucumbers. deer guard. onion/garlic extract spray. confidence. we woke up like this. we flawless. ladies. tell ’em.

After following a “rinse-and-repeat” type execution, SLUG bounced back. Here we stand, 12 days later, united. We tore down that wall, we looked Buttons (the woodchuck,) in the whites of his eyes, we put a man on the moon and asked not what The Battle of Memorial Hill could do for our garden, but what the garden could do for The Battle of Memorial Hill. And we succeeded. But, I’m probably boring you to death. A picture is worth exactly 239 words, so, I’ll let them do the talking. 



Fortress, location II. Top secret.

Fortress, location II. Top secret.


The morning of the first Battle of Memorial Hill.



Totsoi and new starts in the ground. We're getting back on our feet.

Totsoi and new starts in the ground. We’re getting back on our feet.

Eggplant. Beautiful.

Eggplant. Beautiful.


Marigolds. A classic distracting technique. VERY Paul Revere of us, don't you think?

Marigolds. A classic distracting technique. VERY Paul Revere of us, don’t you think?

The construction of our new porch-thing. All we need is to add alligators to the moat surrounding the shed, and we're foolproof.

The construction of our new porch-thing. All we need is to add alligators to the moat surrounding the shed, and we’re foolproof.

And one month later: SLUG musings.

Hello internet! It’s been about a month since we’ve last posted, and much in the garden has changed! I’m here to bring everyone up to speed on all things SLUG. Here we go. For the most part, everything in SLUG is growing wonderfully! 
Happy happy!

Happy happy!

We are blessed with a beautiful tomato crop this season. Most are greening/on their way to ripening up, YUMMY! We’ve managed to develop a trellising system with twine and metal stakes- fairly simple and sturdy. 


 Our peach and apple trees are producing plentiful fruit- most of which is so tempting to eat whilst working, but we resist the urge to snack. This is the view from the road off of Lawe Street. 


These are our new & improved compost bins. After a tune-up of the bins constructed in the early 2000’s, our wonderful past garden manager Polly Dalton, (now serving on the Appleton City Council) and our new compost manager, Brian DeCorte, developed a new technique. With a little brainstorming and the muscle of Cate, Aiden, and some volunteers, we finally finished construction with old pallets and hay. The right corridor already houses some summer composting. We can’t wait to use this new home – we feel like proud parents. 

Delicious basil.

Delicious basil.



 Our basil is SO BEAUTIFUL! Not only is it potent, but when mixed and chopped up with some SLUG arugula, it makes an amazing pesto. Quite incredible. It also serves as a natural barrier to animals trying to snack on our tomatoes- mother nature is so cute. We have sold some to Lawrence University’s summer staffing as well as Bon Appetit, the catering services here at LU.


With every sustainable gardening practice, there are going to be roadblocks to get through. Challenge makes us smarter and well-rounded! This summer, our resident woodchucks (there are 5 of them, all aptly named Buttons) have done a real number on the garden. We’ve felt under siege as of late. After two months of expert fencing technique, companion planting spicy greens around important crops, using coyote pee on the perimeters of our hoophouse, utilizing live traps and bait, and numerous other guerrilla gardening tactics, the woodchucks have still come out on top. They can climb! They’ve eaten zucchini, green tomatoes (before they even ripen, c’mon guys), ALL OF OUR KALE, chard, cucumber, and beans. We live trapped ONE, but when we took him away to the other side of the river, I guess the woodchucks called in their backup troops and went to WAR with us. Bunnies and a mother deer with her baby fawn have declared war on us. It is discouraging, yes, but Aiden and I have worked very hard to stay positive. With the help of facility services, we are working with a company that can hopefully get rid of the problem. It’s been a long fight, but our produce is #1, and these woodchucks have got to be relocated. Hopefully it works! It has been a great test in creativity, patience, and trial/error. 

Woodchuck-munched zucchini.

Woodchuck-munched zucchini.

Cate & Aiden are peeved at Buttons.

Cate & Aiden are peeved at Buttons. 

All in all, this summer has been a highly exciting one! We are so very lucky to be a part of the continuous think-tank that is SLUG. We’ll update you again soon!

Much love,



Meet the team!

This summer, we have two lovely people managing the garden with the assistance of 3 grRReat interns. Meet the team! 

Aiden Campbell and Cate Bentley, co-managers:
Aiden, native to Fort Collins, Colorado, is majoring in Theater Arts. Cate, native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is pursuing a history major at Lawrence University. Both are going into their junior year, and have been a part of the SLUG fam since 2012. 


Jake Valente, pictured center, intern:

Jake is studying as a Russian/French double major. Hailing from Elgin, Illinois, (home of the plant that makes those big sweeper truck things!), Jake is interning this summer in SLUG, working about 10 hours a week. Also pictured are Gus Murphy and Ridley Tankersly, two members of the SLUG Summer Meal Plan Co-op, who volunteer weekly down in SLUG.



Tracy Johnson and Will Gislason, interns:
Tracy is from St.Louis, Missouri, and is looking to major in Linguistics and Russian Literature. She is also interning in the garden, waking up as early as 5am to come help the managers down in the garden! Also pictured is Will Gislason, SLUG’s final intern. Will is SLUG’s upcoming financial manager for the school year, and is majoring in both Environmental Studies and Biology. Both have dedicated a good part of their summer to helping the beautiful garden grow! 



Pictures from the week of 7/14-7/19:)

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A group of lovely volunteers during nightly volunteer hours, which occur from 6pm-8pm.

A group of lovely volunteers during nightly volunteer hours, which occur from 6pm-8pm.


SLUG: Summer Lazing Until Gardening!

Happy summer!

It’s a beautiful one here in Appleton as Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens enters July of our summer season. We have a lot to catch up on, so let’s get started.

The summer has been amazing so far– so many beautiful growing opportunities (both personal and agriculturally) for the garden. We have a full crew this summer-two managers, Aiden Campbell and Cate Bentley, (as well as the expertise of next year’s co-manager, Abigail Hindson before she jetted off to Argentina) and a few summer interns! Tracy Johnson, Will Gislason, and Jake Valente are all putting in 10+ hours a week helping the managers and leading summer garden hours, which are below. Hours occur daily from 6am-10am, as well as Tuesday/Thursday from 6pm-8pm. We’ve been inviting the campus staff, faculty, and student summer residents to come get dirty with us! Here is our poster:


In addition to garden hours, we also compost weekly, collecting compost from Bon Appetit Catering, Copper Rock cafe, Harmony Cafe, and Aspen Cafe. It’s a beautiful thing, staying connected to the Appleton community with a sustainable purpose. It’s so lovely!

So far, we’ve encountered a few tricksters, but have all of our beds planted! When you run a sustainable and organic garden, a lot of different factors are at play. The garden sees it’s far share of woodchucks (all named Buttons,) rabbits, weeds, voles, bugs, and turtles. We recently found a whole spattering of turtle eggs in our wood-chip pile! We do not use pesticides or herbicides, but instead use alternative methods (like planting certain greens in a line vs randomly seeding to trick bugs,) to combat the few, and totally normal, obstacles we encounter in our space. Cate calls it “Guerilla Gardening”. It’s very chic.:)

As of right now, we have many things growing and doing beautifully:

  • Tomatoes, (green zebra, san marzano, brandywine, and suzanne varieties),
  • pole beans
  • beets
  • peppers
  • peas
  • greens (kale, mizuna, chard, tot soi, arugula)
  • zucchini
  • herbs (basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, mint, chocolate mint, terragon, catnip!)

and introducing our new perennial food forest:

  • asparagus
  • berry bushes (buffalo berries, black berries, raspberries)
  • trees (peach, apple, pears)

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We will continue to post sporadically and keep the interwebs updated on what’s happening down in the garden. We are looking forward to giving staff tours, tours to Appleton businesses, harvesting herbs and peas for staff sales, continuing our relationship with Riverview Gardens, and breathing in the beautiful rain that we’ve gotten so much of!:)

Thank you for reading, and enjoy the summer! If you have any questions, email: 

Much love,
Vernon and Veronica, Resident Voles of SLUG

Babe Aiden getting ready for early morning garden hours!

Babe Aiden getting ready for early morning garden hours!


A panorama of Tracy working in the sun.

A panorama of Tracy working in the sun.

The view from Memorial Hill.

The view from Memorial Hill.

The inside of our 90ft hoophouse!

The inside of our 90ft hoophouse!

SLUGJ: Satirical Ladies Unloading Garden Jargon

Composting: A How-to Guide

Disclaimer: you will only understand these jokes if you have composted.  If you haven’t, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?

1.  Wear multiple rings and sandals.  If you like callouses and broken toenails, pay specific attention to this step.

2.  Only compost during blizzards.  We had a great time last Monday during the blizzard as we did not have the truck and had to lug the compost across icy, traffic-ridden, death roads.  Lots of character and ego-building there due to heavy buckets, staring drivers, and heavy souls.

3.  Squeeze as many people as you can into Truck #5.  Try to avoid driving the truck into the Fox River…that already happened and it won’t be as funny the second time.

4.  Make sure there’s an odd number of people.  That way, you can have a cheering section.

5.  Come hungry.  Sometimes there are whole strawberries (just ask Aiden).

6.  We only use frozen woodchips.

7.  Always wear your Sunday best.  You never get muddy, or smelly, or wet.  Everything always goes perfectly.

8.  If you’re trying to impress someone you’re interested in, bring them composting for a great first date.  You’re bound to look super graceful dragging a 50-pound bucket full of rotting food through the snow.

9.  We only have two rules: try your best, and then do your best.

10.  We compost every week day (that’s Monday to Friday, folks) at 3:45 p.m.  MWF at the Loading Dock (behind Phi Tau), and T-Th in the garden.

Looking forward to getting dirty with you! 



Love from,

Cake and AppleKale


Photo credit: SLUG