Friday, September 24, 2010

Making Pesto

We had an awesome Pesto workshop last week. We harvest most of the basil in the garden, which was a small mountain worth of leaves. Now, we have frozen pesto, ready and waiting for our pasta workshop in November!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Become a Garden Caretaker

Sign-up to be a Garden Caretaker (Just like this lovely Bee in our garden)
Garden Caretakers are dedicated garden members who commit to the following:
- Attend or run four office hours throughout the semester. The garden will have a set time each week that will be open for office hours, when people can drop by and find out about it, help weed, etc. Garden Caretakers will be there to guide volunteers and make sure everything gets done.
- Attend/Help Coordinate One Building Day: Building Days are usually on the weekend, and will happen maybe 3 or 4 times this semester. We'll be using these days to build new raised beds, install cold-frames, or make improvements to the shed. The Garden Coordinator (Parker Porfilio and his assistants) will provide all the tools and know-how. You just provide the (wo)man-power, and maybe some of your own expertise~ If you absolutely cannot attend any of the Building Days, you can fulfill this requirement by doing other building work on your own time.
- Potentially join the Watering crew. We'll make a little rotation of who's in charge of watering. If you live off-campus, this won't apply to you unless you really want to do it.

Doing these three things (About 10 hours of time spread over the semester), you'll become a Garden Caretaker and will get to join in on Communal Garden Dinners. These are dinners where we go out and harvest whatever is ready, and people pitch in bread and cheese and other things, and we enjoy a tasty meal together.
If you're interested in signing up, or have any questions, please contact Parker at

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dinner from the Garden

I made an incredibly gourmet meal (which took me about 2 hours to concoct) with yesterday's garden harvest. Here's the full line-up, in case you want to try it at home:

Spicy Wild Salmon with Lime Sauce - fresh salmon coated with tumeric and chili pepper, broiled to perfection, and then drizzled with a tangy lime sauce. My basic framework for this was from , but I of course did not use the disgusting frozen beans suggested as a side!

Served with Sherry and Honey Glazed Beets and Carrots (harvested yesterday). The carrots (scrubbed, but unpeeled) were halved lengthwise (since they were already pretty thin) and the beets were peel and cut into thin wedges. I put these in a pan with half a cup of water, a few splashes of sherry vinegar (Balsamic would also work), a tablespoon of honey, and TWO tablespoons of butter. As it begins to boil, stir every so often to keep everything nice and coated, and watch as it begins to evaporate, and the honey begins to caramelize with the butter. If all the water is gone before the vegetables are al dente, then add a little more water. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Save the tops of the beets for Buttered Beet Greens, which can be lightly tossed in the remaining oily sweetness from the pan that cooked the carrots, plus a tiny bit of water, and cooked ever so slightly. Again, salt to taste.

The spicy tartness of the salmon paired perfectly with the sweet butteryness (a delicious word that should be added to Webster this instant!) of the vegetables, making for a truly satisfying meal. It does seem like a bit of a winter entrée, what with the beets and carrot, but whatever is coming out of the garden is our fresh, seasonal produce, regardless of what the "What's in Season?" chart says!
Did some big gardening today, staking tomato plants, weeding, and pruning the massive sunflowers. I also did quite a bit of harvesting: the biggest harvest we've had so far! See the photos below:
Those are beets, carrots, banana peppers, two tomatoes, and three cucumbers! Plus a big bunch of basil!

We also have some problems, including blossom end rot, which causes the bottoms of tomatoes to rot when the plant isn't getting enough calcium. I'll be buying some soil calcium supplement today~~

The other issue is Powdery Mildew, which is afflicting the squash.... I have to figure out an organic way to solve this, because otherwise our squash crop could be gone within two weeks!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lead Testing

o, we have FINALLY gotten our garden soil tested for lead content.

According to Carl Rosen at the University of Minnesota, "Background concentrations of lead that occur naturally in surface agricultural soils in the United States average 10 parts per million (ppm) with a range of 7 to 20 ppm (parts per million)." The soil of the Brandeis Garden, not including added compost that is in the raised beds, has a concentration of 92 ppm. This is higher than the background "normal" level, but considering that most of our plants are growing in the compost of the raised beds, it is very low.

Also, fruit (beans, apples, tomatoes, pumpkins...) does not take up lead from the soil. It is more likely to find lead accumulating in the leafy parts of plants (lettuce, herbs...).
Therefore, Rosen continues, "Since plants do not take up large quantities of soil lead, the lead levels in soil considered safe for plants will be much higher than soil lead levels where eating of soil is a concern. Generally, it has been considered safe to use garden produce grown in soils with total lead levels less than 300 ppm."

So, in conclusion, we really don't need to worry about lead levels in our soil! Hooray!

***All quotations taken from "Lead in the Home Garden and Urban Soil Environment" by Carl J. Rosen, University of Minnesota.


We certainly had a heat wave here in MA last week. Withs temps that reached over 100F, not only was I withering under the sun, the plants were too. Amy and I had to keep the plants constantly watered to get them through the worst of it. Here I am, after a day at the beach, giving the plants some much needed moisture.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Today when I arrived at the garden, I noticed something moving in one of the raised beds. I got closer, and a fat little rabbit bolted out from under the parsley, ran half-way up the hill, and then turned around to look at me. He seemed be thinking "hmmm, I wonder if this pesky human is going to be here long?"

"Bad rabbit!!!" I yelled at the top of my voice, running after it until it disappeared into the woods. I gave it a few loud dog-bark imitations for good measure, but he sure did not seem adequately scared....

Thankfully, I did not notice any nibble damage, which is quite surprising.... hmmm. We shall see.

Needless to say, if you see any rabbits hoping around campus, they are NOT cute, furry, sweet, little creatures. They are the enemy. So make sure you let them know that they garden is not their dinner table. :)