Thursday, August 20, 2015

August: The Month of Abundance

August: the month of abundance as summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, and beans start coming on strong and all of our other veggies continue to produce as well. And we've planted our fall cool-weather crops like another round of spinach!

It can be overwhelming at times and I know that my fridge is overflowing with fresh food waiting to be either eaten up or preserved for the coming cooler months. VPR's program Vermont Edition recently had a conversation about what to do with all your excess produce which can be found at this link: Summer Cooking. The Intervale Community Farm is also a great resource for new recipes and ideas. Here is a link to that page on their website. Intervale Recipes.

Another great newly found resource is a cookbook put out by a local Vermont publishing company called Cooking Close to Home. The recipes in this book are not only catered to Vermont's seasonal foods but also look absolutely delicious.

At a recent farm stand, we experimented with some nontraditional baking and made a chocolate beet cake! Feedback from most people was that chocolate cake was now their favorite way to get a serving of veggies. That recipe can be found here: Chocolate Beet Cake.

As the season continues, we'll soon be expecting our first winter squash! But just by looking at the garden you'd think that frost will never come. The zinnias, sunflowers, and various vegetable and herb blossoms are adding tons of colors and places for pollinators to feast! Visitors as always are welcome during working hours (8am to 3pm most days weather depending). Also, we are always happy to hear about your favorite way to use produce. Feel free to share recipes in the comments section or when you come see us at farm stand!

Enjoy the fruits of our seasonal labor and soak up these late days of summer!

Monday, August 10, 2015

So Much Chard

Hey garden folks!
Here’s what we’ve been up to this past week!

This morning, we harvested and donated five buckets of chard to Alliot! We are starting to plant seeds for  our fall harvest, and we needed the extra bed space. Our alliot kitchen staff  is excited to incorporate our garden vegies into our meals this afternoon. With summer coming to a close, we recommend that gardeners start thinking about changes they should make to their gardens. For example, we plan on putting in one more round of lettuce, spinach, snap peas, beets, and beans. These crops enjoy cooler conditions and should be ready for harvest before the next frost. Other changes that we have made in preparation for the fall have been pruning watermelon flowers. These flowers are draining energy that could be better used by the melons we already have. Letting them bloom would be counter intuitive, and the smaller melons would not have time to develop before the frost.

Recently, we also had our third and final garden day! This time around, the kids got to enjoy the presence of some garden wildlife! The day featured snails, butterflies, and of course, toads. We had a few intense toad races, where Rebel the “frog” performed exceedingly well. Following this, we ate some sorrel and experimented with red maple seed pods. A great day! 

As always, we had a wonderful farm stand on Wednesday. Feel free to come join next week! We will be around from 11:30 to 1:30, and it will be Jess and Jack’s last. Well, that’s all for now.
Garden Crew. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Welcome August

As August rolls in, we're getting new crops in the garden as well as replanting for fall harvests of cool weather crops. Below are pictures of our zinnias and the first of our tomatoes to ripen this season. Both the zinnias and tomatoes should be exploding within the next couple of weeks so come check out our farm stand Wednesdays from 11:30 to 1:30 in front of the Chapel.
gorgeous garden zinnia almost fully bloomed

Pink Bumblebee variety tomatoes

Our farm stands are a great opportunity for members of the campus community to come and meet the garden crew, ask questions about produce and cooking ideas, or get advice on whatever is disrupting your own garden. We also love hearing from others new ways to use the vegetables and herbs we produce or how much they've been enjoyed. If you would like a large quantity of a specific item, you can email Heather Ellis Lynch to make sure that we have enough of what you'd like. Next week we should be adding tomatoes, summer squash, watermelon, eggplant, and beans to our list of delicious produce!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

More Garden Fun

As always, we've been having lots of fun in the garden since our last blog post. We hosted a Garden Salad Social where members of the Saint Michael's community came down and shared a delicious lunch of fresh food from the garden with us. While it is gratifying to see the seeds you've planted produce fruits, it is even more gratifying to see people enjoying the literal fruits of your labor.
We enjoyed not only the kinds of things you would expect to find in a salad (lettuce, radishes, snap peas, etc.) but also were able to include some wild treats like sour clover and black raspberries! We also gave people the opportunity to mix up their own salad dressings. This is not only a tasty way to accommodate everyone but also helps to engage people in experimenting with their food.

The salad social was such a hit that we plan on having more of them so keep your eyes out for an invitation from the sustainability listserv! If you're not already subscribed, you should be! It's the best way to keep up with what events are going on with sustainability all around campus.

We've also begun having our weekly farm stand in front of the Chapel Wednesdays from 11:30-1:30. Visiting the farm stand is a great way to learn about new veggies, ask questions, and get recipe suggestions from the garden crew! We also love getting to meet people and talk about what we're so passionate about. Come early and come often as our selection is always changing with the season and some things sell out fast, like snap peas. This week, we sold three days worth of snap pea harvesting in the first hour.

If you can't make it to farm stand or you'd just like to see the garden for yourself, we are always happy to have visitors and give a tour. We love to show people the cool things that we're doing and answer questions, as well as brag about how well our peppers, tomatoes, and watermelons are doing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Attack of the Swede Midge

The garden is popping these days with tons of produce ready for picking and eating! We're harvesting beautiful kale, lettuce, snap peas, radishes, herbs, rainbow chard, and much more. Our tomatoes are on the way with bushes loaded with green fruits and we just can't get enough of the colors.

There are really the days when our long hours of hoeing, weeding, and planting are paying off. The peas, squash plants, and bush beans have especially impressed us with their rate of growth. 


Unfortunately, we still have to stay on our toes and watch for any signs of attack on our produce. This past week we lost our entire broccoli patch to relatively new pest, the Swede Midge which is a pest of all the brassicas. Signs of damage include puckered and crinkled leaves, distorted growing points, leaf and flower galls, brown scarring, blind heads, and plants with multiple small heads or shoots. Below is a picture of one of our brussels sprouts. The scarring around the base of stems is a sure sign that the swede midge is here. The only thing to do seems to be to pull infected plants asap and keep all others tight underneath of an insect net. The Cornell reference page has other helpful information.

We've also started seeing an influx of japanese and rose chafer beetles. There isn't much that we can do about them but we're hoping that some of our companion planting experiments will help to distract and deter the beetles before they cause too much damage.

As always, we welcome questions, comments, volunteers, and visitors any time!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Garden Critters and Incredible Growth!

The past week felt a little bit scattered to us in the garden. Some days were beautiful and others cold and rainy. We're getting a little tired of being in the library so we stuck it out in the rain a few times. While we might not have enjoyed the soaking, our plants seem to really be loving the alternating sunshine and rainstorms. The peas are now around 8 inches tall and we've had our first harvests of spinach, radishes, and garlic scapes. The garlic scapes especially have amazed us with how fast they're growing and all of them will need to be harvested this week. (Contact Heather Lynch, if you'd like to place an order). As the produce starts coming in, the garden crew has started looking for new ideas of how to use different vegetables. We've used scapes for pizza, stir-frys, on the grill, and to make pesto. Radishes we've tried roasting with oil and in salad. If you have any other ideas, we'd love to hear them, especially for the radishes which some of us are struggling with.

A few weeks ago, we told you that we had recycled some old pallets and turned them into birdhouses. We are now proud to report that the houses have been decorated and placed around the garden site. We're waiting to see if the new additions interest any of the many bird species that keep us company.

In addition to many kinds of birds, we also get to see frogs and snakes in the garden. The snakes especially like to hang out under the black plastic over our tomato beds. We don't mind them and they don't seem to mind us though sometimes we do startle each other.

A side project that we've been working on is recovering an over grown part of our garden site. A few years ago, a previous crew put in blueberry bushes and a beautiful trellis in a quiet spot behind the garden. Unfortunately, the site was also home to poison ivy! We think we've managed to knock it back enough to make a mulched path and reclaim The Nook. We've even planted it with some annuals to make it seem more welcoming.

Finally, we're still looking for people to join our northward adventure to Miracle Farms in Quebec to check out the awesome permaculture orchard that they've been developing. Contact Amanda at with questions and to sign up!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rain and Research

This past week has been pretty miserable as I'm sure you didn't fail to notice. The rain drove us from the garden most days but did ensure that we didn't have to water the plants. We spent a significant amount of time doing more research on garden critters, disease, and permaculture techniques. While we do miss the sunshine, I think we've come across a lot of ideas and information which we're excited to implement in the garden.

We did brave the rain to check on our garlic, however. It looks like we've beaten the leek moths with our weekly application of Bt and keeping the rows covered at night to keep off the nocturnal moths. We only found 1 larvae in the whole bed on our last check! The scapes are up and look gorgeous with very few of them damaged. In the next couple of days we should be able to taste our work. Lettuce, spinach, and radishes are all coming on so we're hoping for a salad social sometime soon. More information when we figure it out.

Saturday was a busy day at the garden with a visit from local elementary school kids and some of their Saint Mike's mentors. They explored the food growing in the garden, planted some zinnias, and decorated the birdhouses that the crew built. While they found the herbs pleasant to smell, the garlic was a bit much for them.

One of our permaculture inspirations is Stefan Sobkowiak from Miracle Farm up in Quebec. His instructional video The Permaculture Orchard has given us tons of information and ideas to work with as we plan the implementation of our new site. We're trying to organize a tour of his farm sometime this summer and would like to open the invitation to anyone who is interested in attending with us. Please contact Amanda Kellner at with questions or to express interest.

As always, we welcome questions, comments, ideas, visitors, and volunteers! Here's hoping for better weather this coming week.