A Record Breaking Zuccinni

ZuccinniYes. That suspicious-looking fruit/plant in my left hand is indeed a mutant zucchini 3 times bigger than any normal zucchini should be.

There was also a gigantic clover in the basil bed found a few weeks back.

Next to them are the normal clovers for comparison.

Next to them are the normal clovers for comparison.

On a separate note. Look at our cucumbers! They surprised us with how numerous and how well they were doing! These babies were the first things that I had planted in this garden so I have special sentiment for them <3.

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Free Marigolds at Frist a Success!

I was told I had to pull up the marigolds in the Frist Garden in order to put in Basil, Kale, and beets – much more utilitarian but not quite as pretty. So instead of throwing them all into the compost pile, I decided to stick them into pots and give them out to the Princeton community!

So initially, I thought my idea wasn’t going to work because the marigolds did no like being dug back up again. In the heat, they started wilting within minutes. Even ones that I simply moved to a different spot in the garden were looking very sad. photo2 (1)

Feeling rather helpless and dejected, I brought back a whole box of transplanted marigolds back home. After a few days of some good tlc, they were looking quite sprightly again! So there they were at Frist!

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Almost immediately the next day when I went back to check on them, there was a lady there with a box and a big smile, taking a few for her garden! I hope these made her week!

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As I left, she was calling her friends about the marigolds as well! This was a great way for the Princeton Garden Project to get its name and objectives out. We all know here in Princeton that there is nothing better than free things to get people excited.

The Things you Come across while in the Garden.

Being new to gardening, everything I come by is an anomaly and therefore fascinating to me, like these Carolina Horsenettle plants that have actual spikes on the undersides of their leaves. Boy were those an exciting discovery as I eagerly pulled weeds from the garden beds. I have, over the course of the several weeks compiled a meager collection of photos of all the fascinating subjects I have found from the garden simply because I have never had the chance to see these before.

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Like this beautiful blue eggshell I found in the cucumber patch one day. I want to say it’s a robin’s egg (since the color is exactly what my “robin egg’s blue” crayon looked like and not because I’ve done any sort of research about it) and since there are no trees hanging over this particular area, I’m assuming it was the result of some predator that had gotten into this robin’s nest. Apologies that the photo is upside down btw. I was getting really artsy and really trying to get a nice angle with the iphone.

 

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And this poor spider mom that was frantically trying to move away from my trowel while protecting her sack of eggs. It looked kind of like a miniature golf ball!

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Kevin somehow came across this enormous pile of oyster shells. He was hoping that he was digging into fossils and that this land was once an ocean. I had my doubts. I was thinking someone had an oyster bake (you know, like a clam bake) at one point. Nick (Intern from the summer of 2013) said it was most likely some dumb person who thought putting whole oyster shells into the soil would help to restore iodine levels (they should be crushed if it was for that purpose). And a professor from the Architecture department thinks it just a garbage heap from the 1900s. Anyways, it was quite the exciting dig. Image

And look! Another type of shell! So many cool things to be seen at 79 Alexander!

 

 

 

Introducing Gardeners 2014!

A late start  to the blog (just like the spontaneous cold to instantly hot spring weather caused a late start to the garden) but we are moving along nonetheless! I think it would be appropriate to introduce two of the starting interns at the Forbes garden for the summer of 2016 before we divulge (what I think to be) very exciting photos of the garden.

First off, we have Kevin from the lovely class of 2016. Mol concentrator (also doing certificates in Applications of Computing, Environmental Studies, Global Health and Health Policy, and Quantitative and Computational Biology) doing research on campus this summer as well as studying for the MCATs (getting ahead on his game and taking it before it changes on him) on top of working for the garden (whew, makes me tired just writing that out). He’ll be the expertise behind all the garden work with his experience in the Botony club and as a recreational gardener for his whole life – he’s particularly into carnivorous plants (he has a tank in his room). His main goal for this summer: to grow a giant pumpkin (I am highly skeptical but he is insistent and determined) and to not get stung by any more bees (he’s afraid of bees, who’s ever heard of such a gardener?)Image

 

Next, we would like to introduce Amanda. A total novice to this whole gardening thing but after several weeks with her and the weeds, she can dig up a dandelion like no other. What she lacks in skill, she certainly brings in zeal. A recent addition to the EEB department (gave up on chemistry following half a semester with thermodynamics), she is here this summer in the garden, as well as working at a program through the Community House at the Pace Center (Leading a summer camp for middle school students, yikes), and taking a delightful statistics course at Rutgers. She has come to love earthworms and hate clovers and is excited about all of the leafy greens (a total vegetarian) and fruit that she’ll get to grow and harvest (and eat :))!

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More to come!

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!