Friday, December 3, 2010

Winterizing Your Own Garden

Hello again to all our readers, volunteers, and fellow garden and sustainability enthusiasts,

For those of you who, like me, are perhaps more enthusiasts and less experts, we have been doing some further research about important things to remember when putting your garden down to hibernate for the winter months. The following are some important and easy tips and tasks to remember to preserve your garden until Puxatony Phil announces the arrival of spring:

  • Rake the leaves—Leaves might seem like a natural cover and a good insulator, but they can mat, and suffocate your plants. So rake them up, and compost, compost, compost.

  • Pull up Annuals—Any plants that have fallen victim to frost, and won’t be coming back next year can and should be pulled up. You can add these plants to your compost, just be sure to check and throw out any you think might be diseased.

  • Cut back the Perennials—Be sure to trim back any dead or unsightly leaves, etc. You probably won’t need to get rid of the whole plant, and those leaves that still look good can add some color to your winterized garden until you start growing again.

  • Weed—Might seem a bit superfluous to be weeding, particularly if you aren’t planning on growing anything this winter, but this gives you the opportunity to make sure weeds don’t get the head start on you in the spring.

  • Dig up tender bulbs—Any summer-blooming plants aren’t likely to survive the winter months in a USDA zone of 9, or colder. (Click on the map below to visit the USDA's website and learn more about your own area) Store bulbs in Vermiculite in a paper bag in a cool (65-degrees F or cooler), dry spot. (Tender bulbs may include: Begonias, Gladiolus, Dahlias, and other summer blooms)

  • Protect broad leaved Evergreens—Spray them with antidesiccant. This will prevent water loss and dehydration of your plants from drying winter winds.
    (Broad leaved evergreens might include: Rhodendrons or Holly)

  • Water Evergreens (and small trees)—If your fall weather is particularly dry, you want to make sure that the leaves and stems of your evergreens and trees are healthy and plump to survive the drying winds and winter months.

  • Save your favorite plants before the frosts hits, small annuals and herbs can flourish and brighten up windowsills in the winter months.

  • Be careful to avoid fertilizing your garden, or pruning at the end of a plant’s season, this promotes new growth that will be killed off by frost and cold. Trimming dead or damaged branches or leaves is fine though.

  • Winter mulch Perennials—If winter temperatures are likely to fall below 10-degrees F, you should provide your perennials with winter mulch to insulate them from the cold. Simple and lightweight mulches such as: shredded autumn leaves, pine needles, or straw will work. Avoid compact mulches and whole leaves since they can suffocate your plants.

    But just because it’s winter doesn’t mean there aren’t plants that will flourish in your garden in the winter months. One of the things we did in winterizing our garden was to plant plants which would reintroduce nitrogen and other nutrients this year’s crops may have taken out of our soil.

    This is a sample of what the Hayes Valley Farm, an urban farm in San Francisco, does to layer and add nutrients to their soil.

Again, thank you to all of you who follow our Learning garden's progress here on the blog, and have volunteered your time and hands to keeping our garden beautiful and running smoothly. And best of luck with your own winter gardens.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Garden-land

Last Friday the garden hosted an expert gardener, Lynn Villella, who walked us through the process of preparing our learning garden for the inclement weather of the winter months in the great Northwest.

And not a moment too soon, as the following days before our Thanksgiving break the garden seemed to be growing snow.

We had wonderful volunteers and hands that came out last week to help us prepare the garden for a winter hibernation. As per our usual M.O. we had rain and light showers for our garden gathering, but we still managed to recruit some brave souls to help us.

Our volunteers helped us to clean out the beds, compost old plants, and plant faba beans in the empty beds to help reintroduce some nitrogen and other nutrient goodies into the soil for next year's plants.

Gardens in front yards or other high visibility locations used to be a taboo, because of the pressure for them to be maintained and looking beautiful, but after our clean-up our expert thinks we'd pass inspection.

We also enjoyed some hot apple cider and treats from Bon Appétit.

And our volunteers even managed to take home some mint starts for themselves.

A very productive, and timely work party for our Learning garden.

Many thanks to everyone who have been following us here on the blog, and volunteering your time in the garden helping to keep it beautiful, and running smoothly. Our wonderful garden wouldn't be possible without the help from all you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Winter Garden

This year’s theme for International Education Week is Striving for a Sustainable Future. With sustainable future in mind, gardens are becoming increasingly popular all over US campuses, in people’s homes and in cities!

For example, take a look at a San Francisco’s neighborhood recent re-use of a freeway ramp into an urban farm!

In this spirit, we are excited to offer you a Garden Workshop this coming Friday in SMU’s new campus garden.

Garden experts will be on hand to tell and show you how to prepare your gardens for the winter.

Dress to be outside and get dirty! Bon Appétit will provide hot apple cider and there will be light snacks.

At 2pm, we will gather in the St.Gertrude (dining hall) atrium for a talk, followed by some hands on work in the garden.

NOTE: the IEW poster says 3-5, but we are actually starting at 2pm!

Friday, Nov. 19
Winter Garden Planting
SMU Community Garden, 2-5 p.m.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Worldchanging for the Green

Greetings to all our readers, volunteers, and fellow garden and sustainability enthusiasts,

Last week the sustainability met to assess our progress, budget and future plans, and one of the many possibilities we addressed was introducing other valuable organizations and resources that are committed to sustainability, and possibly looking into recruiting speakers for workshops and lectures about our community learning garden, and sustainability.

One such organization that came up is local, Seattle-based “WorldChanging,” a nonprofit media group with a global network, and global goals of affecting sustainable change. Since its inception 7 years ago, Worldchanging has produced a bestselling book: “Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century,” which is widely considered an encyclopedia of all things green and sustainable, and “go-to source for forward thinking, solutions-based journalism that takes a big picture approach to sustainability,” and publishing more than 11,000 articles related articles, with local issue specific blogs for Denver, Seattle and Canada. Earning Worldchanging the honor of being rated the second largest sustainability site on the web by Nielsen Online in 2008.

Worldchanging: A User’s Guide to the 21st Century,” is a 600 page compilation of solutions from across the globe. Among its many accolades it has been on Amazon’s bestseller list in both the U.S. and Canada, and won the Green Prize for sustainable literature, and one of the books of the year by BusinessWeek. The book has also been translated into French, German, and Korean, and expects to soon be available in several others.

Co-founder and Executive Editor of, and editor of “Worldchanging: A User’s Guide to the 21st Century,” Alex Steffen, spreads the message of sustainability global through regular speaking appearances at leading companies such as Nike, Amazon, Yahoo!, and has been hosted as a keynote speaker at design and invocation conferences across the globe including Ted, Pop! Tech, as well at some of the world’s leading universities including Harvard, Yale and Stanford.

His talk last November in Seattle’s Town Hall, explored why our present global crisis requires a different approach to reach a greener future in which we can provide increased prosperity, security, and quality of life for everyone on the planet, and helped influence Seattle’s adopting the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Today he will be addressing Seattle again on “The State of the Future,” where he will be presenting his new ideas on “planetary futurism,” global solutions, and the next big step towards a sustainable future.

Best of luck to Alex and Worldchanging in all their green endeavors. And to our readers, volunteers, and fellow green enthusiasts, check out the latest goals, events, and news from Worldchanging on their website, or their book for solutions for a more sustainable future.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Delicious Harvest

Photo by Prof. David Suter

Happy Friday readers and garden enthusiasts.
As you know Wednesday found us in the garden harvesting the many delicious veggies our garden has produced in spite of the peculiar and antagonistic weather we have had this summer and fall. I am happy to report we were able to harvest some straggler radishes, broccoli, green beans, peas, squash, a great collection of tomatoes (ripened and green), and potatoes.

And the Saint Martin's Sustainability garden was able to donate a box of our harvested treats to the local Thurston County Food Bank, in spite of the fact a small percentage of the tastier veggies seemed to disappear somewhere between hand and buckets, which I wouldn't know anything about...

My roommates are probably happier to report that I was able to bring some of the harvest home with me.

We celebrated the garden harvest with a little breakfast for dinner: homemade quiche with the fresh potatoes, and broccoli. Yum.

Many thanks to all of you who have followed the garden's progress here on the blog, and volunteered your time,and green thumbs to keep our garden running, beautiful and bountiful.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Potatoes Are In!

Warm greetings to all our readers, and volunteers who have helped to keep our garden running and beautiful.

Many of you have seen first-hand the transformation that has taken place in our learning garden since we first began with a grass, and ivy-covered patch of land beside our Dining Hall.
We're happy to announce another milestone...

The potatoes are in!
And we'd like to invite all of you to come out to help us dig them up.

We will be harvesting them next Wednesday, October 20, at 3pm .

The box of produce will be donated to the Thurston County Food Bank. So please come out and join us in supporting sustainability, our local food bank, and keeping our learning garden growing and beautiful. Thank you to all who have been following us here on the blog, and volunteering, for all your support, and lending us your green thumbs. See you Wednesday!

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Students

First Year students come to work in the garden

they mulch the tomato plants with used coffee grounds from the campus cafeteria

paint some garden signs and assemble the new compost bin

pull up more ivy

weed the ground around the garden

mount some bird houses on the fence

and pick some viggies

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Watering Meditation

Watering the garden is a meditative way to start the morning. You stand patiently among the plants and watch the earth soak in moisture. While we wait for facilities to set us up with a more convenient water access, we've devised an irrigation system with soaker hoses and and watering cans. If you would like to take on a day to water the garden, let us know. We'd be happy to add you to our schedule.

Rosemary waters the tomato plants. Photo by Prof. David Suter

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Garden Visitors

Yesterday we seemed to have unwittingly hosted new visitors in the learning garden.

Now the garden is finally looking green, the deer have come to get in on the produce.

Our potato bed has started flowering, fortunately this does not seem to appeal to them.

Sadly, the strawberries were not so lucky... The deer have good taste.

One of today's project-- finishing painting our new table and workstation.

So that's what's going on in the garden. Thank you to everyone who have been following us here on the blog, and volunteering your time in the garden helping to keep it green, beautiful, and running.

Friday, July 30, 2010

TESC explores alternatives

Here is an article from the Olympian about TESC's exploration about becoming carbon neutral by 2020.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

First Harvest!

This Wednesday, we sampled our first golden heirloom tomato and harvested a box of boc choy

Rosemary models the first pick

Tanya samples a tasty morsel

Amanda holds the crop of boc choy. It was split between all who showed up to the work party. A portion went home to the Thurston County Food Bank with the food bank volunteers who came to help us garden.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More Color!

Lately, colors of paint cans have been stacking up high in the garden shed and the garden is doubling as a mini art studio

Last week, Bridge students stopped by and helped us paint the bird houses that SMU writing specialist Cholee Gladney and music professor Brad Schrandt built for the garden fence

students Amanda and Rosemary painted demo houses before the Bridge students arrived

Turns out we have a crop of creative and helpful students this year

They got right to work and did an inspired job. Welcome to campus!

Monday, July 26, 2010

What's Growing on in the Learning Garden

The garden has finally begun producing enough goodies we were obliged to share. Last Wednesday our volunteers were able to sample the Learning Garden's first ripe tomato, and take some of our boc choy home with them.

This week we have started harvesting the radishes.

The tomatoes continue to tempt us, by looking delicious.

A curious phenomenon is taking over the strawberry patch. This is the last known picture of this one. *Yum.*

This unfortunate phenomenon seems also to have spread to the raspberry box...

The squash has begun to develop fruit.

The sunflowers and corn continue to climb skyward.

The broccoli we planted last week is doing well.

And the newest blueberry plant is flourishing, though I have no idea where all the ripe berries went...

So that's what's been growing on in the garden.
Thanks to everyone who have been following us here, on the blog, and volunteering your time to help paint, harvest, weed, water, and keep our garden looking beautiful.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Garden Update...

There has been a lot of gardening going on. As you can see from all the pictures that are posted on here we have been busy. With all the help from the volunteers we got this garden up and running. We have many different vegetables growing and fruit. One plant just grew the first berry over the weekend and I got the joy of eating it, but not before I took a picture of the raspberry. They seem to be having a hard time growing right now but after seeing that one berry I have faith that those raspberries will grow.

Another update is that we are now having deer or some other kind of animal come up to the garden and they seem to like the carrots and strawberries because that is the only bed that seems to have their foot prints. Looks like we are going to be needing to build a fence to keep them out. That is going to be the next project to come.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Garden Celebration and Blessing

See this article about the celebration in the Olympian.

Abbot Neal blesses the garden with holy water

President Heynderickx speaks

We eat a delicious cake made by Bon Appétit

Prof. Shawn Newman leads a ukulele sing along

Enjoying the garden

Watching it grow

We add our own wishes and blessings to the garden wall