Harvest by Hillary

Blogging about my journey to living a more sustainable and organic life

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Week 11: Lunch in the Garden, Tomato Weaves, and a Field Trip

I can’t believe there are only two more weeks of work in the garden! This summer has flown by and pretty soon all the other students will be back on campus. With the start of school right around the corner I am just realizing that everything Emma and I have grown will soon be used in the dining hall. I will be so excited to go to Barone (Fairfield’s dining hall) and see cherry tomatoes from the garden in the salad bar, or the carrots in a side dish for all of Fairfield to enjoy. I cannot wait to tell everyone that those weren’t just from the campus garden but, they were the product of Emma and I’s hard work!

So, with the summer coming to a close this week there was no planting to be done, only watering, maintenance, and pest hunting. Monday, I really focused on watering the new seeds and checking up on all the plants. Emma freshly mowed the lawn to prepare for lunch in the garden and I made sure the beds were all weed free and looking nice. I also wove the tomatoes, which was actually a really fun task. I don’t know why I enjoyed it so much…but I did. I liked it so much I decided to weave my experiment tomato plants as well.

woven tomato row

I don’t think I have talked about my experiment in a while. I wanted to make sure everything was up and running before I began talking about it to not jinx anything. But, now that my tomato plants are transplanted into pots with each individual treatment I feel confident that this experiment is going to be awesome!

Half of my research tomatoes

Half of my research tomatoes

All the plants are doing well and right now I am just keeping track of how many flowers each plant has because there is no tomato fruit data yet. Eventually I will be counting tomato numbers and looking at the tomatoes quality: color, size, shape, etc. I also am in the process of finding a lab to analyze the individual fruits for vitamin and nutrient content so I know how the soil conditions (salinity and nutrients) affect the nutritional quality of the fruits.

A close-up view of one of my research tomato plants

A close-up view of one of my research tomato plants

I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and I really think a lot of people will be interested in what I am testing.

Tuesday was lunch in the garden and Emma once again created another “garden inspired” recipe from our kale and onions. She called her dish “Sweet Kale and Onion Salad” and it was amazing! She was experimenting with the recipe in our kitchen Monday night, so I got to taste test and I loved it. Make sure you check out her blog to get the recipe! http://eatingwithemma.tumblr.com/

We had quite the crowd Tuesday. First, three former Fairfield U basketball players working at the basketball camp stopped by. They told us that they had been meaning to show their support and come to lunch in the garden. After giving them a tour of the garden and a taste of Emma’s salad we agreed to come to their games to show our support for their team as they did for us.

I was so happy to see people from Fairfield Athletics show their support for the garden. Being an athlete myself I know how important nutrition is for athletic success. I hope in the future more athletes will become involved with the garden.

I think one of the most important goals for the campus garden is how it is meant to build the Fairfield community. Being a Fairfield student I think it is so important to get students of all types interacting and working toward common goals. I have met so many new and interesting people this summer and I am so glad I was given the opportunity to branch out of my comfort zone and expand my interests and activities on campus.

It is really easy for people to shy to their comfort zones. If there are any freshmen reading, take this advice and take advantage of all your campus has to offer and don’t be afraid to do something different then you are used to!

Besides the basketball girls we also had some graduate students and faculty attend the lunch. We had a gorgeous day of weather and everyone enjoyed having Emma’s salad.

Wednesday, Emma and I had a meeting with a member from Fairfield’s media department. Fairfield wanted to write an article on the campus garden and so Emma and I were interviewed about our summer experiences. I can’t wait to see how the article comes out and I will post the link to the article on my blog so you all can read it as well!

After the interview Emma and I checked on the squash for pests and cut back two of the chive plants. We cut back only two of the chives so that the chives would be all growing back at different growth times.

Our butternut squash row

Our butternut squash row

Thursday, Emma and I did something a little out of our usual routine and took a trip to the Westport Farmer’s Market. We have been meaning to go to a local farmer’s market and I am so glad we did. The Westport market was amazing. Emma and I went to town talking to the vendors and asking about their local businesses.

Take a look at the pictures below for everything Emma and I purchased!

Westport Farmer's Market Purchases

All of our amazing purchases! We love supporting local businesses and farms!

Carrot basil hummus and organic carrots

Organic carrots with carrot basil hummus. Best snack combo ever.

chocolate mint

Chocolate Mint. This special ingredient will be used in Emma and I’s upcoming lunch in the garden recipe!

Organic Peaches

Juicy and sweet organic peaches


Emma's Farmers Market Purchase

Emma’s purchases: zucchini, apples, berries, mixed lettuce, and edamame protein salad (amazing by the way)

Probably my favorite thing I bought at the market was my carrot and basil hummus. I had a free sample of it at the stand and I fell in love. It tasted so hearty and fresh I needed to buy a container of it. Right when I got home I actually made a salad and used it as a dressing. The salad was made from veggies found in either the campus garden, or the farmer’s market. I loved knowing exactly where all my veggies were coming from.

My lunch made from everything either found in our garden or the Westport Farmer's Market

My lunch made from everything either found in our garden or the Westport Farmer’s Market

Emma and I were raving about this for probably the entire time we were eating lunch…We discussed how we think it is so strange and disturbing that people rarely question where their food is coming from. If I could I honestly would buy and use only locally grown food or my own grown food. The only problem with this is that at times it can become quite expensive, but I think if you never waste your food and are smart about what you buy you can buy a lot of your food locally at a decent price.

Maybe I should do a post about how students can buy their groceries locally without emptying their wallets? That would be fun!

Well, that brings us to today. It is Friday everyone, but what a dark and dreary day it is… It doesn’t look like the weather is going to be very promising today, so Emma and I will probably just focus on our blogs and researching garden information today.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend and I will be back next week!


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Week 10

Well, it has been quite some time since I put out a post! While I am disappointed all my summer trips are over…I am still happy to be finally back and working in the garden again. A lot has happened since the last time I blogged, so this post is a garden catch-up!

So when I last blogged, I was about to leave for Maine.  Emma and I worked hard to plant the remaining beds before I left. We planted beets, cilantro, an assortment of basil, kale, swiss chard, and carrots. I was happy knowing that everything was planted and on its way growing before I left.

When I came back (last week, not this week) I was glad to see everything sprouting and growing beautifully just as I had intended. I was also glad to see that our eggplants had even more fruit, our cherry tomatoes were fruiting like crazy, and some of the cucumbers were ready for harvest!  Everything looked so green, I felt as if Emma and I’s hard work was really paying off!

Cherry tomatoes are popping up everywhere!

Cherry tomatoes are popping up everywhere!

cucumber week 10

Good looking cucumber!

eggplant week 10

Even more eggplants!

growing basil

Beautiful growing basil


Our flower bed is beginning to bloom!

That week, I ended up harvesting the largest eggplant and some kale. I even used the eggplant in my own recipe creation over the weekend, a little something I call “Eggplant Pizza.” I really wish I took a picture of it because it was delicious! But, for those of you that would like to try it yourself here’s the recipe:


1 large eggplant

olive oil

salt and pepper

marinara sauce

mozzarella cheese


Slice the eggplant and place in a baking dish lined with aluminum foil.

Brush some olive oil over the eggplant and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.

After 20 minutes, pour the marinara sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle your desired amount of cheese.

Bake an additional 10 minutes.  And there you go, you have yourself some eggplant pizzas!

This was extremely easy to make and there’s no need for specific measurements! It is all it just how you want it to taste!

After the weekend, week 10 began. This brings us to the current week, which has been very productive if I don’t say so myself.

Monday, I was itching to get back in the garden and do some serious work! I ended up thinning and pruning all the cherry tomatoes in the row on the hill. They now look cleaned up and ready to grow to their full potential. Monday I also decided to tackle the old garlic row that has been meaning to be over-turned. The soil is so leafy because of the leaf mulch used to cover the garlic, but for now it will have to do. The only thing that will be planted in that row will be the oats and peas to be used as cover crops, so there is no need for perfect soil.

Before I move on to Tuesday, some of you may not know what “cover crops” are or do. Basically cover crops such as peas and oats are crops that are planted to manage the soil and keep it fertile, hydrated, and healthy. Many gardeners and farmers prefer to use cover crops in empty plots, so in the future when they need to plant the soil will be a great planting quality.

After taking care of the tomato and garlic rows, Tuesday, I decided to replant the cilantro. Some of the newly planted crops (Not a lot but specifically the swiss chard and cilantro) have not come up yet and its been about 3 weeks.

Tuesday was also lunch in the garden and what a crowd we had. We had around 8 people mostly graduate students and staff and it was great to sit down and talk to everyone about the garden and their own gardening experiences. One of our dedicated attendees, the school’s head of public safety, even brought homemade pickles, which were fantastic! I am a huge pickle fan and luckily he told me his easy recipe, so I am definitely going to make my own!

After lunch in the garden I worked on the garlic row again and made sure to check all the plants for pests and soil conditions.

Wednesday was a really cool day because Emma and I uncovered the butternut squash row. The butternuts have gotten huge and the row looks amazing. The blossoms are almost in full bloom and are looking great and will finally get to be pollinated!

Squash blossom

Squash blossom

With the unveiling of the butternuts, came the veiling of the zucchini. Earlier our zucchini was having some powdery mildew problems, but luckily we sprayed them down with an organic fungicide and it has almost gone away. Now the zucchini are covered and are ready to grow as much as the butternuts have.

Wednesday, I also did a lot of weeding. Personally there is something about weeding that I just love…I know this may sound weird. But nothing is more satisfying than tackling a weedy section of your garden and cleaning it up. When the soil looks clean not only does it look pleasing, but it is great for your plants. The plants have the chance to now take up the nutrients available without having to share them with all those pesky weeds. Trust me you can really see the difference in how your plants grow whether they are in a clean or weedy environment.

Thursday, unfortunately was a pretty dreary day. I spent a lot of time researching and blogging, which was nice because I haven’t sat down and blogged in two weeks! Emma and I also went to Ganim’s Garden Center to pick up some beet seeds and new herbs. The second half of the mint bed is still empty, except for a small row of basil that was gifted to the garden from the head of public safety, so we needed to find some herbs to fill it up!

At Ganim’s there were obviously slim pickings since it is the end of planting season, but we ended up finding some pretty cool stuff!

For one we found a stevia plant. If you are a health nut, like I and haven’t heard of the new natural sweetener made from Stevia leaves then shame on you because this stuff is great!

Stevia Leaf

Stevia Leaf

So, what is Stevia? Well, it is a plant that is a member of the sunflower family known for its sweet tasting leaves. Stevia makes a great sugar substitute for dieters and health conscious people because it doesn’t spike blood glucose levels and create a signifigant drop in blood glucose after wards putting the body into a sluggish sugar coma. Also, Stevia is great because unlike other sweeteners it doesn’t trigger further cravings for carbohydrates and sweets meaning dieters can have healthy control of their eating habits.

As you can see I am very excited to put this plant in the garden.

Besides the stevia plant we also found three more types of mint to add. The varieties that are being added are banana, ginger, and pineapple. Emma and I love how many different varieties of mint we have and I think our mint section of the garden will continue to be a hit with visitors.

I always love showing people our mint because they can try it themselves and really taste the difference between each type. I love seeing peoples reactions when they can taste the hidden flavors.

The last herb we bought was lavender, a personal favorite of Emma and mine’s. I used to have bad insomnia when I was in high school and I remember trying every natural remedy under the sun to help me sleep. One of the things I tried was buying a lavender pillow spray. I fell in love with the scent and while it probably was not the primary reason my insomnia was cured, I still love the smell.

I’m even thinking about harvesting some to make small satchels with dried lavender to place in my pillow!

So, after all this catch-up business it is now Friday and almost the weekend. I am planning on hopefully  planting the beets today and getting our herbs in the bed. A nice relaxing Friday of planting is just what I need!

So, I hope you enjoyed my blog catch-up and I promise I will be back again next week to blog!

Happy Weekend Everyone!

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Week 6 and 7: My California Adventure and a Week of Planting

Hi Everyone!

Sorry about not posting last week, I wasn’t in the garden because I was out in California visiting my roommate from school, Danica! I flew out on Tuesday and stayed until the following Monday, giving me almost a full week, but I definitely could have used more time.

While on the West Coast I explored Los Angeles, visited Santa Monica Pier, celebrated Fourth of July by running a local road race (my friend and I came in first and second in our age group!), and finished off the trip traveling to Las Vegas! In such a short amount of time I saw and did so much. California was great and I can’t wait to go back and see what else it has to offer!

One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting The Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles near the Grove. The Farmer’s Market is a space that holds a wide variety of restaurants, food stalls, food stores, and vendors. You can find pretty much anything here from fresh local produce to a nice sit down meal. The amount of places to eat and shop at the Farmer’s Market is overwhelming! Since we didn’t stay in one place for too long on my Los Angeles tour, if I could come back I would definitely chose to come back here to eat and spend more time looking at everything the market offers.

farmers market

Danica and I Farmers Market LA

One thing I loved about California was how the food was not overly commercialized. Don’t get me wrong there are still fast food places and what not, but there are many more restaurants and markets that care about their food and ingredients in a very organic and wholesome way.

For example, the town over from where I stayed, Claremont, is awesome in that there are no fast food places. All the restaurants, bakeries, and cafes are for the most part local businesses. I loved this about Claremont! I even got lunch here at this cute, family owned cafe called “The Spot.” My friend, Danica, knows how much I love healthy eating and brought me here to try. The food was awesome! I got a “make-your-own” salad with greens, carrots, onion, tomato, cucumber, chicken, and goat cheese with a “Green Monster” smoothie on the side made with banana, spinach, whey protein, peanut butter, honey, and milk. Heaven.

The Spot Claremont

I would love to live in California because of all the emphasis places put on health and nutrition. Possibly Claremont, CA? I know Danica is going to read this and say to herself, “I knew Hillary would love Claremont.” haha You know me so well!

After getting back from California I headed back to school to resume my work in the garden. As soon as I stepped foot in that garden I was shocked. In that short amount of time I was gone everything had grown so much!

The first thing I noticed was that our cherry tomato plants in our demonstration beds started to produce fruit, which taste amazing! I also noticed that the flower bed has grown to practically 4 feet tall, the squash plants are rapidly growing, the egg plants are beginning to grow fruit, and the baby beets we planted earlier this summer and getting so big!

fruiting cherry tom


flower bed growing

Everything is growing at full speed and it is so exciting to see the garden so green!

The day I got back we had lunch in the garden! We all ate and then Emma had the garlic harvest planned. We spent about an hour plucking the garlic out of the ground, bundling them in groups of 10, and hanging them across the street in the maintenance building. We harvested three different types of garlic and if I were to estimate I would guess that we had about 40-50 bundles of garlic (exact numbers to be determined). It was fun to harvest the garlic and we even got to bring some home!

Wednesday was fun because Emma and I finished planting the carrot beds and the Basil bed. In total we have three beds of carrots of containing different varieties. We really want to finish all the planting before Saturday because I am leaving for Kennebunkport, Maine, another vacation!

Today was great because we finished planting everything except the kale beds. We planted the summer squash row, the beet and cilantro bed, and the swiss chard beds. Pretty soon no more planting will be needed and then the pest and disease management really begins!

Happy gardening everyone and hope you are all enjoying the summer!


Week 5: Birthday Week!

What a week it has been! This week was especially special because it was the week of my 21st birthday!!!

But, before I get to my awesome birthday inspired section of my post, let’s go over what was accomplished this week!

Monday Emma and I spent most of our time preparing for the freshmen orientation activities fair . We decided to have a herb tasting”station for our booth at the fair. We made three different herb infused olive oils for taste tests. We harvested chives, thyme, and rosemary fresh from the garden and served the oils with fresh-baked baguette pieces for dipping. Check out Emma’s blog to see how we made the oils! http://eatingwithemma.tumblr.com/post/53924838024/herb-infused-olive-oil

For the fair we also had to make a poster, which looked awesome! I will be sure to post a picture of that sometime soon because Emma and I are so proud of our craft skills.

Tuesday was the day of the fair so, I headed down to the student center to set up. To my surprise there was more interest in the garden than expected! I made sure to talk to a lot of people and I found that even though some students didn’t like the physical work of gardening, they loved how the garden helps with good nutrition and sustainability.

I’m hoping through the students’ different views of what the garden means to them Emma and I can work to draw more students to the garden.

Overall this week has been a good week for the garden’s publicity. Not only did I educate the incoming freshmen of the garden and its benefits, but I also gave a garden talk on Wednesday at the Sigma Xi summer research lunch series. The Sigma Xi summer research lunch series is a way for science and math research students and faculty to meet and discuss current research.

I love going to these talks because not only is there free food…BONUS! But, I can see who is on campus and what other science students are doing.

I love going to talks like these, especially when there are biology presentations. It’s a great way to stay engaged in the science world over the summer.

My garden presentation ended up consisting of two-parts. First I discussed the overall garden plans for the 2013-2014 year and then I talked about the cherry tomato research.

Everyone loved my talk and I got asked so many questions. I took this as a sign that my research project is headed in the right direction! I wanted to do research that was relatable for all people and what is more relatable than food, nutrition, and health!

Now, I just need to get my tomatoes going and I will be ready to delve into this experiment!

After, the lunch talk I went down to the garden to clean up some of the pieces of our old fence because WE GOT A NEW FENCE! This fence is supposed to last much longer than the first and it looks a lot more durable. Now Emma and I just need to pick up the mess the fence crew made and the garden will look stunning!

New Fence

In plant news, the baby carrots and jalapeno are beginning to sprout and the row of winter squash popped up the other day along with the row of cherry tomatoes! The garden keeps growing and pretty soon everything will be filled!

Baby Jalepenos

Baby jalapeno

Thursday morning rolled around and when I woke up to this sweet surprise from Emma!

Emma's Present

Being a gardener and healthy eater I sure enjoyed getting strawberries as a birthday surprise! Shout out to Emma for being an awesome intern partner!

I enjoyed the rest of my 21st birthday by hitting the track for a solid workout, working in the garden pruning and weeding, and finishing by going out that night with friends and family for a nice dinner at Old Post Tavern in Fairfield. 🙂

This was my birthday meal:

Pan-Seared Scallops Fava Bean Puree, Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms, and Truffle Tomato-Caper Vinaigrette

Pan-Seared Scallops Fava Bean Puree, sautéed Mixed Mushrooms, and Truffle Tomato-Caper Vinaigrette

It was amazing! I also had a cup of clam chowder before the main meal and after the tavern surprised me with a massive brownie sundae and a little pink specialty drink from the bartender. The brownie sundae was awesome, but the drink…not so much. The waitress said it was fruity, but I could taste no fruit in that to save my life. Let’s just say I’m going to stick with lemon water for now on. 🙂

Overall I had a wonderful birthday and thank you to everyone who made it such a special day!

For this weekend Emma and I are just going to focus on weeding, cleaning, mowing, and watering. Sunday, if weather permits,  Tod and Jen will be coming in the help fill my pots with soil for the research project! I am so excited!

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Week 4: Sunshine, Scapes, and Stakes

What a beautiful and productive week in the garden it has been! We were so lucky to have a solid week of little rain, we go so much done and the garden looks beautiful.

Monday, Emma and I only worked 4 hours and in that time we mowed the lawn, harvested all the garlic scapes and swiss chard, planted the winter squash and cherry tomato rows, and watered all our plants. I couldn’t believe how much we got done in such a short time!

That's a lot of garlic scapes...

That’s a lot of garlic scapes…

The harvesting and planting were my favorite part about Monday. Harvesting the garlic scapes was so fun and easy! All you do to harvest is snap the scape off from the main plant and you are good to go!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with garlic scapes, they are considered the “flower stalks” of garlic plants. Gardeners need to remove the scapes once they mature (become curly) because without their removal the plant will balance their energy to power and grow both the garlic scapes and the ground bulb. If the scapes are removed the plant can put all of its energy into growing the bulb, therefore producing a larger, healthier garlic bulb, which is the intended goal.

A perfectly curled garlic scape

A perfectly curled garlic scape

Many gardeners will simply remove the scapes and toss them into compost, but before you do the same know that garlic scapes are just as delicious as the bulb itself and are often used in cooking.

To see how Emma and I used the scapes in our cooking adventures be sure to read Emma’s blog http://eatingwithemma.tumblr.com/  where you can find a delicious vegan recipe for swiss chard and garlic scape dip! You won’t be disappointed!

Tuesday came and it was the infamous “Lunch in the Garden,” where Emma’s vegan dip made its debut. Only a handful of people dropped by, but everyone who tried the dip loved it! Emma served the dip with some fresh-baked bread from Whole Foods that paired great with the dip.

Now that we have a second “Lunch in the Garden” under our belt Emma and I are trying to figure out a way to attract more faculty, staff, and students to the garden. We agreed having our own recipe each week is a plus and we decided that maybe we will have people come eat and also have an optional garden activity such as harvesting, weeding, or something else garden related. We will have to come up with something extra special for next week!

Before lunch in the garden I decided to stake the tomato plants. This was my first time staking plants, but it was honestly so simple. As you can see from the picture below we have A LOT of tomatoes and there are only going to be more once my research tomatoes and the tomatoes in the row grow. The garden will be bursting with tomatoes…so if you like tomatoes make sure you make it down to the garden during harvest season because let me tell you we will have a ton!

Perfectly staked tomatoes

Perfectly staked tomatoes

After our “Lunch in the Garden Tuesday,” Wednesday rolled around and another bed was planted in the garden. Carrots! We planted both regular orange carrots and two different varieties of purple carrots. Wednesday was a great planting day. The weather was gorgeous and it never got too hot.

Wednesday, we also thinned out the chives. Now the chives bed is full with 12 smaller chive plants rather than 6 large plants. Slowly day by day this garden is transforming and Emma and I are so excited to see everything coming together.

Beautiful Chive Bed

Beautiful Chives Bed

Thursday (today) was a pretty, calm day. We thinned out our beet and carrot sprouts and also moved some of the flowers around in the flower bed so, the bed looked evened out on each side.

The most important thing though that happened today, occurred when I was prepping the last bed. This last bed for a while was left alone because it contained the Song Sparrow nest. But, once the baby…Cow Bird was born they no longer needed the nest, so we got the “go-ahead” to prep away!

As I was cleaning out the bed, I came across the nest and with it one baby Song Sparrow egg that looked as if it was destroyed by the Cow Bird! Horrifying, I know. Then a little while later I spotted two more eggs laying not too far from the nest, that must have been ejected out by the menacing Cow Bird. So sad…the little guys never had a chance.

Here’s a picture of the nest with the three Song Sparrow eggs:

I placed all the eggs back into the nest together so all the Song Sparrow siblings could rest peacefully together

I placed all the eggs back into the nest together so, all the Song Sparrow siblings could be together once again!

Friday, will be another day to check up on the garden and get some more work done! I am so happy the weather has been so great lately! Love it! And most importantly the garden is all prepped and ready to be used for more planting!

Here’s a picture of how the garden currently looks!

Beautiful…I know.

Enjoy the up and coming weekend everyone and happy gardening!

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Animals in the Garden: Slugs

I am so excited to write yet another “Animals in the Garden” post!

This post will especially appeal to all the entomologists out there…the small number of you that there are… But, even if insects don’t appeal to you this post will be extremely beneficial!

Slugs specifically are “animals” that are important for gardeners to be aware of.

Slugs are in a sense “shell less” snails. Slugs are a type of mollusc and have soft and smooth “squishy” bodies. There bodies are not waterproof so in order to avoid drying up to a crisp on a hot summer’s day they bury into wet, damp environments. Where’s a wet, damp environment you can think of that these animals would love? Your garden!

Slugs love to live in gardens, but this can affect your garden’s productivity and health. Slugs not only love to live in garden soil, but they love to eat the garden’s contents. Whatever your garden has growing in it, may it be flowers, vegetables, berries, or seedlings you bet these little guys will devour everything!

The other day when Emma and I were turning over some beds we spotted this little guy creeping around:

Menacing slug in the garden

Menacing slug in the garden

I know it is hard to see ,but if you look toward the center of the photo you can find him. This particular slug is a leopard slug and they are usually between 2-4 inches long. They are called Leopard Slugs because of their distinctive leopard-like color patterns. While it is not crucial to know each different type of slug, for they all will destroy your garden, It is important to know the basic general characteristics of slugs so you can spot them before they harm your plants.

Close-up of a leopard slug

Close-up of a leopard slug

Now I know you must be thinking, so what do I do if I find these little guys? While there are many conventional, strong pesticides that would do the job in a second, if you are running an organically grown garden this way is out of question. I also believe finding other ways of pest prevention is more fun and rewarding, so I researched some organic ways to deal with slugs. This is what I found!

To deal with slugs organically you can:

1. Add a super cool and fancy “water feature” to your garden like a small pond. This will attract an array of slug’s natural predators such as salamanders, snakes, toads, ducks, beetles and turtles

(This way really is not the route to go if you: a) have no space b) have no time c) have no money, but it sounded cool so, I wanted to include it!)

2. Clear you garden of damp, wet, and warm places such as random boards, large rocks, and other debris laying on the ground.

3. Stage a “slug stake-out” night and go out when slugs are active once it turns dark. You can remove them by picking up the slugs and placing individuals in a container of soapy water.

(this way seems the most fun…”late night in the garden” anyone?

4. Pour coffee over them. There have been studies by the USDA that show that caffeine can be deadly to these little rascals.

5. I also read that placing cracked egg shells around new seedlings can help repel slugs away from newly developing plants.

6. Use an organic “slugicide”. They are easy to find online!

(This is the easiest…and most boring way to attack slugs)

Those are 6 ways to help your garden combat a slug epidemic! Those are just my personal favorite ways I found to deal with slugs, but if you search online there are tons of organic recipes for slugicides and concoctions to eliminate slugs. If we notice that the slugs are eating away our plants I will let you all know how we combat our problem!

Also it is important to note that not all slugs will loop like this leopard slug. Slugs come in a shapes and sizes. So if you find something slimy looking, like a snail with no shell, you have found a slug!

To end this “Animals in the Garden” post I will leave you all with this image I found while doing my research:

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Week of Rain and Research

Hello all!

I’m almost to the end of week 3 of my internship and despite the massive amounts of rain this week Emma and I still managed to accomplished nearly everything on our to-do list.

Monday, was a pretty successful day despite the bad weather from hurricane Andrea. Emma and I went down early that morning to meet Jen to prep the upper rows for squash and cherry tomato planting. We laid down the row covers and secured with rocks, while Jen set up the irrigation system for each row. We covered every row, except for the whole first row because we were just short of the covering. So close, yet so far…

Since the weather was so bad Monday afternoon, we figured Tuesday wasn’t looking so good either so we cancelled weekly lunch in the garden. 😦 We had plans to make a new vegan recipe for Swiss Chard and Garlic Scape dip, but now we have to wait until next week. For those of you interested in getting that recipe be sure to keep an eye out for the post on Emma’s blog, http://eatingwithemma.tumblr.com/ .

The next day,Tuesday, was actually quite a nice day! So we could have had lunch in the garden…but better safe then sorry, I guess! With the nice weather we were able to plant an entire bed of jalapenos and another bed with some very important tomatoes.

These “very important” tomatoes are none other than the tomatoes I will be studying for my biology research project! I am so excited to start conducting research and manipulating these little guys!  Right now I am only in the developing stages, caring for the newly planted seeds, but I’m ecstatic things are up and running! The question I built my project on is how can manipulating growing conditions of tomato plants affect the yield and quality of tomato fruits. In turn I want to investigate whether it is more sustainable to grow greater quantities of fruit that lack flavor and nutrient composition or to grow lower quantities of nutrient dense fruit and relate this to food security and health.

I am still in the developing stages of my investigation, but I have some time to decide where my research will go. The best part about this project is that I can take it wherever I please, so the possibilities are endless (within reason of course)!

Another task I completed Tuesday was trimming off the flowers from the herbs. After trimming, my hands smelled like rosemary for the rest of the day, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing! While, I was trimming I began thinking about how herbs have a reputation for having incredible health benefits.

With this thought, I decided to conduct a mini side research project (currently in the works) about natural grown herbs and how they can help improve athletic performance.

Last year's picture of the herb beds

Last year’s picture of the herb beds

As mentioned in my “About Me” page I talked about how I have been a runner for years. Being a runner I am very conscious about what I put in my body. Food is fuel in my mind and I want to eat whatever it is that will make me stronger and faster. Conducting this research has been very interesting and I will be posting a follow-up post about my findings in a week or two, so keep a look out!

Me running!

Me running!

Moving on from research, Wednesday was a transplant day for Emma and I and we thinned our crowded tomato sections in the demonstration beds. We moved the extra plants to a free bed and still had some extras so we planted 11 plants down at the Early Learning Center across the street. I’m sure the little kids will love picking the tomatoes once they begin fruiting!

That brings us to today, which has been nothing but dreary and rainy. I really hope tomorrow isn’t as bad so the squash and cherry tomato rows can get planted. But, for now I will continue with research and cross my fingers for the next week to be filled with sun!