Do you know what a happy tomato plant looks like?

I didn’t.  I thought I did though, until early last week when Oren, a SLUG alum who now runs Field Notes Farm, stopped by the garden and did a walk-through with us.  He gave us lots of good advice – pull out the pepper plants that had not flowered so late in the season (RIP, dreams of canning salsa with local habaneros), turn off our automatic irrigation system since Appleton has gotten so much rain lately, and prune the tomatoes.

Before Oren’s visit, I thought our toms looked fine.  They were shooting up faster than we could trellis them, several green fruits had appeared, and if their lower leaves looked a little droopy, well, their upper leaves were green and perky!  But Oren explained that those green fruits really ought to be ripening right now, and the droopy bottom leaves were a symptom of blight, a soil fungus that can kill tomatoes.  He prescribed pruning the plants, which both encourages the fruit to ripen faster and slows the spread of the fungus up the stalk.

Hearing that our tomato plants needed urgent care was a little disheartening, especially when I thought they were doing so well.  But realizing that I do not know how much I don’t know has been a theme of my summer as a SLUGger.  I used to think gardening was mostly just watering and weeding, but the more I learn, the more I realize how ignorant I am.  It feels like I could spend my whole life learning to farm and still know only a scintilla of the information that is out there.  That’s daunting, but also exciting; growing food is the kind of work that can last a lifetime!  I feel extremely lucky to have SLUG as a classroom and to have farmer friends like Oren (and Rick from Produce with Purpose, and Larry Cain, and on and on…) who are willing to be teachers.

After Oren’s visit, we spent the rest of that week and the start of this one doctoring our toms.  We finished pruning the last bed today, and they all look happy, I think.  Even better, several of the cherry varieties are ripening! Hopefully, next week will mark the start of tomatoes as an addition to our farm stand offerings (8:00 – 10:00 AM in the garden ;)).  Tomorrow we are on to planting carrots and zucchini; I can’t wait to see what those crops have to teach me!

Xoxo –

Nic

Some Sweet Bee Updates!

 

Hey all!

Summer SLUGger Jenny here with some very exciting updates about the garden and the bees!  Those of you in the Lawrence area may have noticed people walking a little taller, with a bit more skip in their step, a smile on their face, and (most importantly) a jar of what might be described as Liquid Gold in their hands.IMG_1966That’s right!  The SLUG bees are making honey like it’s nobody’s business!  They are healthy and strong and happy, and we couldn’t be prouder of them.

Let’s start with a recent history lesson of our apiary, which can be found behind Hiett Hall enclosed in a nice and protective white fence.  When I personally began my infancy as a beekeeper last summer, we had one lonely but strong hive we named Kristin.  During this summer we were also fortunate to get connected with a local beekeeper named Larry Cain.  Larry has been so SO helpful in getting our apiary back to the strength it is today.

To make a year long story short, our one hive became three, the new hives named GusAnn and Laurel.  Winter came and our bees huddled together for warmth in Larry’s ‘bee-garage’.  Kristin lost her queen and was split and combined to make a new hive we named Abeegail.  The three remaining hives are now buzzing and thriving beyond anyone’s expectations.  Slugger Gil and I have been having a blast hanging out with these spritely gals and harvesting the delicious honey they are continuously making.IMG_1970.JPGOur first harvest consisted of just about 70 pounds of honey.  We were even able to use Larry’s fancy new electronic honey extractor, which uses centrifugal force to extract honey from 9 frames at a time!  A sure upgrade from our own hand-cranked, two frame extractor.  There is nothing more satisfying than watching that pure honey pour out of the spout and fill up a big 5-gallon bucket.IMG_1954.JPGWe expect to make another harvest of honey within the next week, and likely one or two more after that before the campus fills up with Lawrentians for the start of the 2016-17 school year.  The honey will be sold every Wednesday in the garden from 8am-10am and at Griff’s Grill from 11:30am-1pm.

Wishing everyone a cool and exciting end of July!

xoxo – gardener Jenny

 

 

July 4-July 8 Garden Update

Hello!

It is the end of the fourth week of summer and things are growing and buzzing down in the garden.

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June 17, 2016

We are very proud of all the weeding we have done in the garden. We created a new weed windrow on the north side of the Hoop House last week.  We are in the process of finding more hay to keep building it.

Beds 1-4 were full of weeds, but we cleared them all and were able to plant a bed of tomatoes, some radishes and mizuna.  We are very thankful for Rick from Produce with Purpose who gave us his extra tomato plants.  We were able to fill many more beds with tomatoes and are so excited to harvest them at the end of the summer.

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We sold lots of chard to Bon Appetit!

 

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Produce for our Wednesday sale and Griff’s Grill! Jenny said the peas were adored at Griff’s!

Our Wednesday sales and selling at Griff’s Grill have been productive and successful. It is always fun to see the smiles of friendly faces after we work  hard to care for the vegetables.

The bees are buzzing and we are preparing to harvest honey in the hopes of selling it on Wednesday!

 

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Friday crafts-finally remaking the number signs!

We are excited for another week of tomato trellising, weeding, and planting!

Thanks for reading,

Elana

Meet the 2016 SLUG summer workers

We are caring for the Sustainable Lawrence University Garden this summer.

Come join us in the garden Monday-Friday, 6-10 am or Tuesday and Thursday evening between 6-8 pm.

We sell produce in the garden Wednesday’s from 8-10 am and outside the Warch Campus Center during Griff’s Grill from 11:30 to 1 pm.

Contact us at garden@lawrence.edu for any questions.

The 2016 SLUG workers:

Elana Lambert ’17

I am so happy to be here for the summer.  I love waking up with the sun, walking to the garden, getting dirty, talking with inspiring people, and challenging my mind and body every day.  We truly are growing with the vegetables and I feel lucky to be here.

 

Nicole Mitchell ’17

I’ve learned so much as a SLUGger during the school year, and I’m learning even more now that I’m in the garden every day.  It’s so much fun to see the changes day to day: new seedlings are sprouting up, greens are getting HUGE, and our weed pile is growing exponentially.  It’s only been a few weeks, but I already feel like my understanding of what goes on in the garden is much deeper.  I can’t wait to see what the summer brings!

 

Jenny Hanrahan ’18

It is amazing to get to experience the rewarding work of maintaining a garden like SLUG over the summer. It is also so nice to work with all of these inspiring and silly and wonderful people. We gardeners can form some incredible relationships both with the garden and with each other!

 

Peter Eriksen ’18

Gardening was a natural addition to my lifelong interest in ecology in general. I love gardening as an activity, and I’m also interested in improving SLUG in ways that make it more accessible and efficient. I’m attempting to become a novice mushroom farmer, having grown oyster mushrooms in the SLUG house over the year.

 

Anna Cohen ’19

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I came to SLUG for the environmental aspect, but stayed for the community. Because our group turns over every 4 years, it’s important that the older of the group teach the younger, and I’ve experienced this first hand. I’m excited to learn new skills via this process and continue to grow my relationships with the plants and the people.

 

Thanks for reading!

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)
Co-Manager

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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!

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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. 


 

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Fortress, location II. Top secret.

Fortress, location II. Top secret.

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The morning of the first Battle of Memorial Hill.

CHARD!

CHARD!

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.

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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.