June in the Garden: Introduction, Accomplishments, Reflections, and Plan(t)s

Wow! How is it the last day of June?!

It is safe to say that Lindsey and I have had quite an interesting and busy month. And, despite some significant setbacks, we have made some productive headway in the garden. We have quite a few things to pat ourselves on the back about!

First, we should introduce ourselves. We, Morgan Nelson and Lindsey Conlan, are the Princeton Garden Project Leaders for Summer 2015.  At the beginning of the month, we wrote our own short bios for the Princeton Office of Sustainability:

morgan nelson
Morgan B. Nelson ’16 
Garden Project Leader

Morgan Nelson ’16 is a politics major in the class of 2016, working as an intern for the Princeton Garden Project this summer. Originally from Key West, Florida, she wants to work to preserve the environment, especially the ocean and tropical areas. She enjoys running, spear fishing, hiking, kayaking, free diving, and wakeboarding outdoors. In her studies, she focuses on exploring the relationship between media and public policy. She has worked in sustainable agriculture or organic gardening before, but is excited to learn the processes this summer!

Lindsey ConlanLindsey E. Conlan ’18
Garden Project Leader

Lindsey Conlan ’18 is a prospective Civil and Environmental Engineering major. She hopes to create and remodel buildings that are sustainable for the environment and enjoyable for the inhabitants. She enjoys bike riding, playing Ultimate Frisbee and eating carrots straight out of the garden. This summer she is one of the garden managers and is looking forward to creating more vegetable and flower beds, as well as harvesting the final products.

Now that you know who we are, let us tell you what we have gotten done in the garden at Forbes this month!

Major tasks, harvests, events, and projects completed in June:

  1. Golden Hour in the Garden - Photo by Morgan Nelson

    Golden Hour in the Garden -Morgan Nelson

    Instagram creation – You can now follow us at @princetongardenproject on instagram! Only two weeks old, our account has 70 followers, 9 pictures and a lot of #gardenlove and #veggiepuns. Additionally, the Princeton University facebook page just shared a photo Morgan took of Lindsey trimming vines on a work day in the garden.

    It already has 7,000 views and 170 likes!


  2. Kale harvest – The kale harvest has been out of control! Seriously. We can hardly keep up. Last week, we harvested for two days. The first day yielded 9 lbs. The second day yielded 6 lbs. That is on top of the massive amounts–trash bags full–of kale we harvested at the beginning of the month!

  3. Beet, Lettuce, Spinach, Radish, Collard and Carrot harvests – Other harvests in June include 6 lbs of unbeatable beets, 4 lbs of lettuce, 5 lbs of delicious tasting carrots, 6 lbs of collard greens, and the rest of the valentines’ radishes and spinach. We pulled the spinach and radishes after the last harvest because they don’t do well in the heat of New Jersey summer. They both had started to bolt (new garden vocabulary!). We now have the carrot bed, beet bed, radish bed, and spinach bed empty and ready to plant!

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  4. Mulching the pathway and sides of the gate – While I was out for a week with pneumonia, Lindsey earned a new nickname: The Mulch Princess. With a knack for gardenprettifying, Lindsey set to work pulling large overgrown weeds (even thorny thistle–you go girl) along both sides of the fence and laid down mulch. She also put down mulch to form a weed-free pathway in the middle of the garden. The garden looks so much more well kept with the beds and pathways defined!

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    Tiger lilies in front of the garden gate. -Morgan Nelson

    Flowers in front of the gate – Another project that has been completed with the gardening knowledge, help, and generosity of Lindsey’s mom: we put mulch and flowers in front of
    garden gate! We planted Purple Cone Flowers (which can also be called Echinacea), Black-eyed Susans, and Daisies. Lindsey’s mom donated some of the flowers she had from her own garden (thank you!!). We already had Tigerlillies but we moved them so they had more space to bloom. The flowers in the bed are perennials, so hopefully they will come back next spring!


  6. Weeding

    We have spent a ton of time fighting weeds, but we finally think we are beating them! The mulch has helped, but the rows in between beds are still very time consuming. Luckily we have had some friends and volunteers to help us out some days!


  7. Larger than Lindsey!

    Larger than Lindsey! -Morgan Nelson

    Tomato plant growth

    Tomato excitement! -Morgan Nelson

    Tomato excitement! -Morgan Nelson

    We are so excited because we think we are going to have a ton of tomatoes! The plants are taller than us and there are already a lot of green tomatoes on the vines! But that also means that the plants are heavy and they were starting to seriously droop. We spent a long time over a period of two days organizing and trellising our tomato forest in order to make them stand up straight, but we think that the harvest will show that our work was worth it!


Now that a lot of harvesting and weeding have been done, we have a lot of planting to do! We haven’t quite decided what we are going to plant in the empty beds but we will keep the blog up to date!

Looking forward to after we have planted, we have a few other projects we would like to get done this summer. We have already begun the process of getting supplies to refurbish the picnic tables and swing in the garden. We need to pay some more attention to the Frist garden in the near future. We also are thinking of using the small garden on the side of Forbes for planting pumpkins; we think the residential college would love to have a Forbes’ pumpkin patch come fall! Additionally, fruit is growing in the back of the garden but we need to weed our way there!

As far as community outreach plans, we have scheduled days of gardening and garden education with some local schools, we are going to advertise more garden work days in July, we would like to have our first bonfire within the next two weeks, and I still would like to plan an art or yoga day in the garden.

Personally, I signed on to this job with marketing/outreach experience and began this summer a newbie to organic gardening. I have already learned a lot about growing vegetables, harvesting, Princeton, and New Jersey from training with the garden managers before they left for the summer and by doing the hands on work that the Princeton Garden Project requires. Lindsey has had a bit more experience with growing and her mom, who works in her own community’s garden, has been a huge help to us. But I think Lindsey and I are both really excited to read up on the things we can plant and how to make them grow for the rest of the summer and fall!

Lastly, I have also learned a few lessons about diligence, commitment, thoroughness, and patience by taking care of the veggies in the garden. You cannot miss days in the garden if you do not want to spend all of your time weeding the next time you are there. There is no pause button for weeds or “extensions” on harvesting when vegetables need to be “turned in” to dining services. The garden is a magical respite from the rest of busy Princeton (there are still people stressed out over summer!) but it requires prioritization to keep vegetables from dying and weeds from burying our beautiful breathing space.

That’s it for June! Much love from the garden and we have big plan(t)s for the rest of summer!

-Morgan Nelson

The Old Site

Here is the link to the old garden project website, if you are interested in more of the history of the garden project!

The Princeton Garden Project

Additionally, there are a lot of helpful gardening resources on the “links” page.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.39.57 AM

We love how the animations on the bottom of the page dump out little vegetable seeds and it is convenient that the site has a princeton.edu domain name, so we are currently trying to get the information to log on and update the old site.

-Morgan Nelson

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!