BIG UPDATE: The Garden Reloaded

It has been a long time since the last update, but that’s because we’ve been working hard (I swear!) and we started so many projects at once! Everything isn’t 100% completed, but there are some things you need to see.

First off, we’ve had some awesome harvests of kale, potatoes, tomatoes, beets, carrots, stir fry greens, and various herbs. Here are some pictures of the haul. This is only about one-third of the potato harvest and only about one-tenth of the tomatoes we’ve grabbed so far.

A small portion of the tomato harvest

Carrots and beets

Some of the potatoes

A lot of plants are doing very well. A student planted some giant pumpkin, and it’s devouring the bed next to it. Our bed of basil has gone insane. (I think we need a permit for something like this!) The eggplant is growing strong… but there are no flowers. Nitrogen promotes green growth and phosphorus promotes flower and fruit growth, so I added some organic fertilizer (I think it’s 3-7-4, that’s N-P-K) and I hope it’s not too late to get some flowers.

Basil

Eggplant

Giant Pumpkin

More pumpkin

Our tomato plants are super tall. There is a blight that is killing the lower branches, but we still get plenty of fruit from the middle and top of the plant. I planted some pole beans and in three days they were already one foot tall. They are flowering now, and I can’t wait for some beans. Our peas look like they are happy too. I planted them on two trellises, but for some reason they only grew on one. I don’t know why.

Look at these tomato plants

Pole beans are growing up!

Peas only on one side… WHY?

Some bio lab on Princeton was doing a photosynthesis experiment on corn, and when they finished they gave it to us. I think the picture speaks for itself.

Super tall corn

We planted a fast-harvest watermelon, and in less than a month it went from this:

Babies

to this:

Attack of the vines!

Can’t wait to eat this!

I can’t wait for some watermelon! If there was some contest for the best fruit, watermelon would easily place in the top five. Assuming bananas weren’t using steroids or the strawberries were doping.

ALSO LOOK HOW WEIRD THESE PEPPERS ARE! THEY GROW UPSIDE DOWN!

I can’t remember the exact name, but they are called Chinese something-or-other peppers. There’s so many growing on just one plant. It’s just so weird.

Never seen something like this

Look how many are on one plant!

After pulling up the radishes (almost al of them bolted ☹ ) and other crops, we had a lot of empty beds. We planted more kale (I used to hate it but now I love it), arugula, spinach, and romaine lettuce.

Kale

Arugula

Spinach

I used some kale to make an awesome kale salad. I chopped the kale into half-inch strips (I left the central stem because I like the crunch). Then I made the most amazing dressing: soy sauce, balsamic, lime juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Mix it all together, pour it over, and massage the salad for two minutes to get it nice and soft. DELICIOUS, I TELL YOU! I bet it would have been even better with chopped walnuts or cranberries or something.

Chopped kale salad with a soy balsamic lime dressing

Remember a few months ago when the back of the garden looked like this?

Welcome to hell

Well now check it out!

Started setting up the herb patches

Mulched around the bushes

Mulched behind the trees. Note that the vines have been cut off the fence!

Laying down more mulch very soon

The area around the trees and blueberry bushes was covered with weedblock plastic and mulched. I’m thinking we can put some big pots or asparagus or other plants in the space in-between. I also segmented out the herb area of the garden. I’m going to put in one more patch and further weed it to make a nice section for the dill, spearmint, and other herbs.

How are things outside the fence? Well there are some nice sunflowers and marigolds out to greet you now. Also, along the woods, there is this HUGE squash plant growing. Well, we’re not sure what kind of gourd it might be, but here’s a picture of the fruit it’s growing. Hey, I’m not complaining!

The head is pretty small compared to the body

Front gate

This plant is nuts

Maybe it’s a pumpkin.

Sprinklers in action

And now let’s meet some more of the garden staff: Marty Mantis, Dora Deer, and Freddy Frog!

How cute

Don’t eat anything please!

Ribbet

School will be starting in a few weeks, but we will continue working on the garden because, well, there’s still a lot to do! There are a few more beds that need to be replanted, more mulch needs to be put down, weeds need weeding… busy busy busy! We’ll keep you updated!

Blueberries and Sprinklers!

We’ve been weeding a lot, and the beds are all looking rather spiffy, if I do say so myself.

And I’d like to introduce two new permanent members of the garden family:

Blueberry bushes!

and sprinklers!

 

The blueberry bushes already had ripe berries on them when I was putting them in. The whole time, these birds were eyeing me, waiting for me to leave so they could swoop in and devour the berries. I was able to put up mesh around the bushes just in time!

Also, we can now see the fence along the back. I pulled out a bunch of bamboo poles and chicken wire from the back corner. I guess people forgot they were there, and nature did what nature does and started eating them.

The back

So that’s that! When we harvest the beets and potatoes we’ll put up pictures. Until next time!

Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

Hi Everybody!

This is Lizzie!  Hope everyone had an awesome Fourth of July!  The plants are shooting up like rockets in the garden, thanks to New Jersey’s heat and humidity.  After a month of work, things are really starting to shape up!

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We’ve done a lot of work in the garden so far, and I have tons of pictures!  Here is a series of photos showing how the mystery crop’s bed has evolved over the past month.  The deeply mulched pathways should keep down the weeds and define the beds.

Now you may be wondering – who affected these dramatic changes?  They call themselves Nick and Lizzie, but what are they really? Gnomes?  Woodchucks?

No!  They are both (super-) human undergraduates, with mad gardening skillz and the courage to take on 7-foot-tall thistles.

Nick with Stars

This is the garden’s main man. Fearlessly weeding where no man has weeded before (at least this season), Nick brings a new beat to the garden (pictured). This engineer (’15) has Jersey roots, and is generally awesome, whether he’s trellising tomatoes or digging dandelions. Weeds fear him.

Lizzie

The mountains of Colorado have given her much wisdom, but not about Jersey heat and mosquitoes. When not subduing the jungle, Lizzie works on her Molecular Biology thesis (’14).  She is a master of mulch, savior of seed, and is shown here weeding the mystery crop.

We are assisted by various insect- and seed-eating creatures, including robins, goldfinch, mourning doves, cardinals, spiders, and the aforementioned frog (we got a picture!)

The Frog in the Lemon Balm

The Frog in the Lemon Balm

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Spider

Spider

Now on to updates in the garden.  Here’s some before-and-after shots of a section of the jungle Nick tackled in the back:

There is still much digging to be done, but we’ve built a couple pretty beds!

One last picture – look how enormous the oldest tomato plants have gotten!

5' Tall Tomatoes!

5′ Tall Tomatoes!

The garden’s starting to look presentable, and it’s really exciting!  We’ve already been able to harvest lemon balm, mustard greens, kale, baby swiss chard, curly lettuce, romaine lettuce, light green lettuce, and spearmint, with beets, carrots, and potatoes coming in the near future.

Keep an eye out for our next update!

99% Done

Where to begin?

Well Lizzie and I were cleaning out the vines and other weeds (more like trees) from around the garden and dissevered these two things:

 

I guess you never know what you’ll find under a swath of vines.

Speaking of swathes, the small forest on the back of the garden has been obliterated. Destroyed. Defeated. I don’t have a recent enough picture to prove it, so you’ll just have to trust me! (Trust a guy on the Internet – crazy, right?) I do have this fairly recent picture of the left side though.

We’ve also planted a lot more things: A Siamese salad mix, cucumbers, onions, garlic (between the eggplant), small watermelons, and the rest of the basil and peppers.

 

While I was clearing out the Amazon Lite™ in the back, I managed to dig up all the raspberry bushes. In my defense, they were just interspersed with the other horrible spiky thistle, and I was in total weed-kill mode. Thankfully, my smarter partner in crime Lizzie was able to salvage them and plant them in these awesome, organized rows. It doesn’t look like a lot of them will provide fruit this year, but the core should survive for next season.

Some cool things now… the tomatoes are coming in!

We have a butterfly friend!

There is a mutant giant clover patch by one of the apple trees (well, there WAS…)

And, not pictured: there is a frog (toad?) living in the garden. At first Lizzie thought it was a mouse, but we got a good look at while harvesting the lemon balm patch. He’s rather elusive and super quick, but I’ll try and snap a picture. While we’re talking about the lemon balm patch, let me say that free ice cream is awesome! The Bent Spoon loves it when we give them this stuff. Also we’re almost done restructuring the herb patches in the back. It looks pretty amazing now. When it’s done it will look totally amazing.

Watering the garden is something we normally have to take care of, but…

These guys are doing great! I’ll give a hint for the identity of the mystery crop: they’re ready to harvest in 23-30 days after planting. Any guesses?

Finally, I have an announcement: we will have our first workday of the summer on Tuesday at 6:30pm. We will be planting our marigolds around the fence and doing other tasks. We provide the gloves and trowels and drinking water, but you need to provide some hands! Stop by the garden (67 Alexander, just north of the “sidewalk closed” sign) and help out!

I’m super excited for the next update. Everything is really coming together!

Pre-Update

Big moves in the garden!

We’ve done so much since I’ve last posted, and I’ve been slacking on the pictures, so you’ll have to bear with me when I say it’s looking beautiful.

Before I get into specifics, just look how pretty the peas are:

2013-06-19(peas)

We’ve started to make a lot of new beds and mulch the paths between. We dig a shallow trench (about 4 inches) all around before we mulch. This keeps the mulch from getting into the bed, and it provides an unconquerable mat for the weeds.

Speaking of weeds… the back is on its way to being clear! I have no picture, but we just have to pull up the weeds behind the apple trees and the forest will be tamed… for a few moments at least.

I’ve harvested so much (6 bags!) lettuce. Kale, chard, and mustard greens were also part of the green delivery. I can’t wait till we start getting real vegetables and not just leaves!

2013-06-19(lettuce)

You can continuously harvest lettuce if you just cut above the stem, like so:

2013-06-19(harvest)

We’re discovering new herbs in the back all the time. I found this one herb, and it smelled so familiar. Luckily, Lizzie is awesome at identifying plants: it’s sage! I have to see how to cook with this stuff.

2013-06-19(sage)

And now it’s time for the mystery portion of the post! What do you think this row is? I’ll let you all know next post!

2013-06-19(mystery)

(HINT: It took about 5 days to sprout like this.)

The Ball’s Rolling Now!

The garden is growing.

Great progress has been made with the weeds, and more plots are being cleared. The process of clearing a plot is rather straightforward: pull all the weeds, enrich the soil, plant the seeds. In this particular plot, we’ve pulled all the weeds except for the really tiny ones. The black tarp will kill them all in a few days, then we’ll till the soil and mix in our compost.

2013-06-12(tarp)

We’ve finally gotten around to putting a trellis on the peas, so they ought to start producing more. There are also volunteer carrots throughout this patch. Peas and carrots, anyone?

2013-06-12(pea trellis)

I have been a little remiss in caging the tomatoes. They have a pretty weak stem, so after a certain height they will collapse a bit. Here you can see how the bottom part of the stem is laying on the ground.

2013-06-12(tomato root1)

In fact, tomatoes will reroot wherever the stem touches the ground; check it out (the white things)!

2013-06-12(tomatoroot2)

So I just buried the plant up to where the stem straightens out. Everything should be fine. The tomatoes are all caged. You’ll notice the twine cages – those are a personal invention. I think it should work out alright!

2013-06-12(tomato cage)

Let me take this moment to talk to you about [b]companion planting[/b]. Certain plant species complement each other in ways that are super beneficial to gardeners. For example, basil produces chemicals that ward off common tomato pests. Since basil doesn’t grow that high, it makes sense to plant them with the tomatoes. Best friends! (They’re tasty, too!)

2013-06-12(basil)

We’ve also had this gigantic parsley growing in a random point in the walkway by the tomatoes. I couldn’t bring myself to pull it out, so I caged it (it was really wild before) and will let it seed. Coriander, anyone?

2013-06-12(coriander)

On the weeding side of things… we’ve done a lot! I swear! There’s just so much more to do. This is the back of the garden as of now:

And I was snooping around the side of the garden when I found a path. I chopped down the weeds along the fence and along the path so they wouldn’t seed (they were flowering) and I will pull them tomorrow. It looks like this now:

2013-06-12(side weed)

Finally, we still have this massive lemon balm patch. I still have to harvest it get my gelati!

2013-06-12(lemon balm)

As always, we’ll keep you posted on anything cool that happens! Let’s hope it doesn’t rain every day next week so I can do some more work!

Getting Started for Summer 2013

HELLO EVERYONE!

My name is Nick. Lizzie and I will be tending the Princeton Garden for the summer. We are both super excited to beautify the land and have an awesome harvest. We have huge plans for the garden, and we can’t wait for them to come to fruition!

First thing’s first… WEEDS FROM HELL

Some progress has been made, however. Yesterday I pulled some weeds and now it looks like a slightly smaller jungle. There are also patches I’ve cleared along the fence!

Weeding is hard work, and I’ve got more than a few scratches from the thistle. However, once a patch is weeded, the ground turned, and compost added, you can do… THIS!

2013-06-06(planted tomats)

I planted another tomato patch. These guy should grow up big and strong, and hopefully produce ten thousand tomatoes. I know, I see the weeds in the back. Liz and I will terminate them later, WE PROMISE!

I also have some awesome news. Princeton University had a ton of marigolds left over from some alumni event (I have no idea why), and they gave them all to me!

2013-06-03(marigolds)

This is about one-third of the total haul. We have 97 marigolds in total. We plan on planting them around the fence to beautify the garden. Popular belief is that they ward off pests. I don’t know if I believe that or not, but at least they look nice.

ONE FINAL THING

2013-06-06(peas)

It’s a little early for these guys, but they are just SO SWEET AND SO TASTY. I always eat a couple while I work :D

Stay tuned for more updates!