“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…” – Susan Polis Schutz

It’s the last week of school and time is slipping past like water through our fingers. The community garden shows that we have come a long way since this year’s harsh winter. Crops are sprouting up everywhere!

Baby strawberries in the garden!

Baby strawberries in the garden!

Tomatoes starting to ripen

Tomatoes starting to ripen

The students in Professor Michael Strickland’s garden studio class are finally seeing the rewards of their hard work of planting in the beginning of the semester. Students are able to chose what they want to plant in their personal plots, and there is now a variety of crops.

Wildflowers and carrots in a student's personal plot

Wildflowers and carrots in a student’s personal plot

Not many people like beets, but apparently this student does!

Not many people like beets, but apparently this student does!

Just like the school year, the lifecycle of a garden ebbs and flows. It’s not easy to pull up the roots we set down when we arrived at Elon. But, without the changing of the seasons a garden would not be able to flourish and grow into something beautiful and strong.

Congratulations to our seniors graduating next week, especial garden studio TA Andrea Schultz! Thank you to all for your hard work.

Happy Summer!

 

 

Elon Strawberry Festival 2014

The last few weeks of school are full of signs of summer! And what is a better symbol of summer than strawberries? Professor Strickland’s garden studio class did a fantastic job hosting this year’s Strawberry Festival in the Elon Community Garden last Friday.

One of the best events at Elon!

One of the best events at Elon!

The class sold lots of herbs and plants they’ve been growing this semester.

Growing some garden love!

Growing some garden love!

There was also lots and lots and lots of yummy strawberry treats. From cakes, to ice cream, to smoothies, there were so many delicious foods to choose from!

How to choose?!

How to choose?!

The Festival is a celebration of strawberries and the happiness of summer. Visitors celebrated with live music, face painting and creative backdrops to take photos with friends.

Face painting and other fun activities

Face painting and other fun activities

Photo backdrop of three of the leaders of the event!

Photo backdrop of three of the leaders of the event! Cameron Hawkins, Sarah Wasko and Andrea Schultz

Thanks go to Michael Strickland and Andrea Schultz’s garden studio class for organizing the event. And a big thank you also goes to everyone who came and made it such a successful event!

 

 

Thanks to Sarah Wasko for these photos

 

Busy Bees

With spring here and summer around the corner, workdays in the garden now mean things to be done more than ever, and lots of sun and sweat! Especially when there are many beds to be aerated with u-bars!

Using U-bars to dig up soil in new beds

Using U-bars to dig up soil in new beds 

This Sunday, Loy Farms and its greenhouse had several more helpers than usual, thanks to the brothers of the Kappa Alpha Order doing a few hours of service.

Brothers of the Kappa Alpha Order in the Loy Farms greenhouse

Brothers of the Kappa Alpha Order in the Loy Farms greenhouse

There's always weeding to be done!

There’s always weeding to be done!

They weren’t the only new workers on the farm though. Thanks to senior Cameron Hawkins, there are now beehives at Loy Farms!

Beehives set up at Loy Farms!

Beehives set up at Loy Farms!

The beehives are set up away from the central area of the farms for safety

The beehives are set up away from the central area of the farms for safety

These bees will pollinate the many different kinds of flowers and crops at Loy Farms. A new beehive also encourages an increase in the general bee population, which has been threatened by Colony Collapse Disorder all over the world. Read more about Colony Collapse Disorder and its consequences for global food production at this link: http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572

Cameron also initiated a new garden at the Station at Mill Point, an on campus apartment complex! Although it’s still in its early stages, hopefully Mill Point will soon been producing its some of its own plants and crops and will teach residents about gardening.

Ready for a new crop of gardeners!

Ready for a new crop of gardeners!

Lastly, daffodils were planted outside the Elon Hillel house as part of a worldwide Daffodil Project, and effort to plant 1.5 million daffodils around the world to remember the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust. Both humans and bees are grateful for these beautiful daffodils in honor of the victims.

Never forget

Never forget

Earth Day 2014

Happy Earth Day All!

In celebration of Earth Day, here is some history behind the holiday itself:

-1962: Rachel Carson’s bestseller book “Silent Spring” is published

-1969: Chemical fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River

-Established as a day of education on college campuses in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson, who was inspired by the antiwar movement of the late 1960s to raise awareness about air and water pollution.

-1970s: Environmental Legislation such as the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act and more.

-1990: Earth Day goes global!

Want to get involved in helping our planet? There is always work to be done over at Loy Farms! Sign up for the gardening class next semester, or show up to a workday on Saturdays. Contact Andrea Schultz or Professor Michael Strickland for more information.

Loy Farms on a beautiful spring day

Loy Farms on a beautiful spring day

A bed of seedlings waiting to grow

A bed of seedlings waiting to grow

This seedling need lots of care!

This seedling need lots of care!

Yummy zucchini! This and more are growing out at Loy Farms and the community garden

Yummy zucchini! This and more are growing out at Loy Farms and the community garden

Link

Plants aren’t the only things popping up in the garden this spring; the Elon Community Garden has recently come under attack from rabbits. Although they look fluffy and cute, rabbits can do some serious chomping on many kinds of plants and cause damage to the garden.

Cottontail

Cottontail

In the garden, Professor Strickland and his students have constructed a chicken wire fence around plots to try and dissuade the rabbits away from the plants. This is an easy, non-polluting and non-harmful tactic to keep the crops safe.

Chicken wire fence around students' plots

Chicken wire fence around students’ plots

Chicken wire defense

Chicken wire defense

Other tactics to keep rabbits out of your garden involve a line of products from a company called DeFence. This company has a variety of repellent spays for rabbits and deer. However, DeFence is just one of many companies that offer products such as these.

A non-chemical method includes motion sensitive water sprinklers. This way, the animals only come in contact with water instead of chemicals. Many pest companies also sell these kinds of products.

Hopefully, the Elon rabbits will learn to leave the garden’s crops alone and so the crops can continue to grow!

So. Much. Kale.

So. Much. Kale.

For more information on garden pest control, check out this website:

http://community.havahart.com/rabbits/rabbit-damage/

 

You Say Potayto, I Say Potahto

We’ve already professed our love for sweet potatoes on a previous blog post, but we cannot forget about ordinary potatoes!

This weekend’s workday was spent trying to catch up on the late planting season by planting potatoes.

So many potatoes drying out in the McMichael greenhouse.

So many potatoes drying out in the McMichael greenhouse.

Growing potatoes is a funny process. First, you need potatoes to grow potatoes. Specifically, use “seed” potatoes, which just means a cut up part of a potato or a small whole potato. Ideally, the seed potato should have at least two “eyes”.

No, I don't mean actual eyes

No, I don’t mean actual eyes

The “eyes” of a potato are the tiny sprouts out of the potato. This is how potatoes grow, similar to how a plant grows out of a seed. Using the tool in the picture below, holes are made half a foot or so into the ground and the potato or potato pieces are planted.

Allison digs holes while Carrie deposits the mini potato or potato pieces

Allison digs holes while Carrie deposits the mini potato or potato pieces

Potato or potato pieces in the newly dug holes

Potato or potato pieces in the newly dug holes

Hannah raking dirt over the new potato bed

Hannah cleaning up a potato bed

You may say potayto, and I may say potahto, but we can both agree that potatoes are an excellent and delicious crop to plant. Check out the food page to learn about easy and healthy recipes using potatoes.

Spring has (finally) Sprung

Happy first day of spring y’all! After a brutal winter, the battle is over and spring is officially here. But so you don’t remember this winter as completely miserable and harmful, here are some facts about why even winter is an important part of a garden’s life.

Luckily, a long and wet winter like the one we had this year does not necessary mean bad news for one’s garden. Some crops, such as most perennial plants, may be undersized due to an insufficient cold and dormant period. The bulbs’ of flowers can easily wilt, and plants that provide for pollinators may produce less because their initial flowering came out before the pollinators did.

All of these things can happen if a winter isn’t cold enough. So the polar vortex of 2014 may have actually ensured the health of the crops at Elon Community Garden. Now, we are finally seeing the effects of springtime after the long winter.

Student plots at Elon Community Garden

Student plots at Elon Community Garden

Students are learning that good things take time in the garden.

Students are learning that good things take time in the garden.

As time goes on, the garden will slowly turn into the bountiful haven we work for. Have a fun and safe spring break, and check in after the week off to see the garden’s progress!

Purple crocuses are a sure sign of spring!

Purple crocuses are a sure sign of spring!