Friday, April 29, 2011

Summer and Beyond

Hey everyone,
Just letting you guys know that I'll be here all summer and that I'll be doing my best to work with Dr. Cawley to make sure that the garden stays in pretty good shape. I've had a great time with all of you in ENVI 200 and hope to see you in Appalachian Rocks & Waters :)

Hope you killed the exam & have a great summer!


P.S. I'll try to keep pictures upof everything growing!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hmmmm. Good Friday...... A nice gentle rain today--warm and steady: everyone planted a lot of their seeds yesterday in the (dry, warm) afternoon, and even dared a few hot pepper and tomato plantlets. We were told that PR was going to have one of their photographers make an appearence for this fine planting day--but we never saw him/her. Thats ok this time though, since we had a skilled envi photographer in our midst too, just in case. These things will tend to happen occasionally.

Still, No photos from me personally today--perhaps some will get posted though--hint, hint.

In my neck of the woods (Pennsylvania), the old-timers always said that we needed to get our peas planted in by Good Friday--those plus onion sets, and some radishes were always the first in the ground. Down here south in Salem, the season always seems a little earlier--according to my family up north, they still have snow in the north hollows right now...

Then everyone went their separate ways for Easter Weekend. I wandered up to the garden this morning to check things out. Erics okra plants looked a little chilly, i admit--but the tomato plants are all looking very chipper, and the few chili de arbols and cayennes have bounced back with the warm rain. Mike's already appears to have a full crop of peppers ready for the picking......

If it gets cold, i will try to go up and cover things.

First pea plants and onions are up--Colin's radishes will need to be thinned sooner rather than later. And we have a new addition: at least three brave gardeners must have planted beets a week or so back--thye have now begun to make an appearence.

Meanwhile, Charles and Daniel did yomans (2 yomens?) work in getting the chicken-wire fences around the EC apple trees. It is worth reporting (most happily) that the other four or five missing stakes are also now in the ground, and the wire-cages all attached, and so ALL of the little trees are caged, and wont run away... (photos to follow when there is better light)

Loud lauds to several of the gang, and particularly to Mike and Stephen for doing a lot of the loading of materials into the truck to carry over to EC--and to Colin for helping with filling the water bins.

And to the lot of you for helping sort out an'Alta Mons set of seeds from the seedbank holdings...

A quick additional note specifically to Michele Duck, who has been following our blog from Britain: We continue to much appreciate your input. Happy Easter! Letsee, I agree, I just dont think you can really grow okra there--at least not unless you start it inside, like at....... say, Christmas time! Its a North African kinda thing--and it Really likes long seasons and Extremely hot days. I think we mostly only have it here in Virginia because Thomas Jefferson made pretty extensive trials of it at Monticello as "quite the exotic." ........Speaking of our various heirloom exotics in the seed line--presumably if you talk with the kids some, maybe we can do some seed exchange--i bet we are holding at least a few things that might do well with you.......

Monday, April 18, 2011

APPLES, APPLES, and more APPLES with ENVI 260


For those of you that don't know... the ENVI 206 Class has been setting up apple orchard around the valley. We were very busy. We got over 15 different type of Apple varieties for many different locations and clef grafted them to the root stock. As of today, 04/18/2011, we have over 80% success rate. WHICH IS GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lots of Rain this weekend! And good spring rain that is warm, and should sprout things quickly. (On the other hand, the grass will need to be mowed again soon as well!)

So, while we are waiting for the first of the sprouting, lets have another glance backwards--these photos are of our first food-waste-to-compost project back in..... 2006. We have not done that yet this year--anyone interested? we have about two weeks left in the active semester--if a couple-three people want to help set up a small demonstration plot, please talk with dr cawley!

Anyhow--so in 2006 we did our first food-waste project--notice how small our official student garden was back then--only 6 foot square! Still, that small spot was 3 feet deep when we began, and five of us moved and composted 1700 pounds of food waste from the commons. We interlayered it with shredded paper and cardboard from the (then volunteer Earthbound) recycling efforts--added five pounds of red worms (they actually did most of the work), covered it with a soil/live compost layer, and then tarped it to keep the moisture in.

It worked beautifully. And quickly too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Garden networking @ POWERSHIFT!!!

I am going to Powershift this weekend!!

Powershift is an awesome conference for youth around the U>S to network, share ideas, become informed and to organize to move our country towards a sustainable future!

Check it out HERE

I will be attending the following workshops:
~ How to Create a School/Community Garden
~Communicating for Change With your Dinning Services

I will also be hearing from key note speakers:

~ Lisa P. Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
~Honorable Al Gore
~Van Jones

Ultimately I am very excited and enthusiastic about sharing our progress, success, and problems encountered with those who are just starting, as well as to obtain some awesome advice from those with established programs so I can envision the future goals of our garden and plan for success.

A BIG thanks to the Sociology and Environmental Studies Departments of Roanoke College for supporting my attendance to Powershift :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Hey everyone! Just wanted to share some pictures from when Kyle and I went up to plant some seeds in the garden. Can't wait to see everything start growin' soon!

Monday, April 11, 2011


Hey guys, just wanted to give everyone an update about the weather regarding planting seeds. I checked the monthly forecast this morning and it looks like the lows won't be getting below the upper 40's so everyone should be ok to plant all of their SEEDS. It would be a good idea to hold off on transplants at this point in case an unexpected cold front rolls through. I just finished planting and the garden is still looking great! Everyone's strawberries are looking healthy, but no signs of any other sprouts yet!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Speaking of the seed bank........

..... the purloined seed order for new requests from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has finally arrived. It was slow--and they still had to substitute some things..... letsee guess an inventory list is in order: Dragon Tongue Bush Bean Royalty Purple Pod Bush Bean Alabama Black Butterbean Christmas Pole Lima Bean Catskill Brussels Sprouts Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage Mammoth Red-Rock Cabbage Premium Late Flat Dutch Cabbage DeBourbonne Cucumber Dragon's Egg Cucumber Sikkum Red Cucumber Arugula Red Orach Chinese Red Meat Radish Japanes Daikon Radish Black Spanish Radish White Icicle Radish Five-Colour Chard Flamingo Pink Chard Oriole Orange Chard Brandywine Tomato Pink Oxheart Tomato Cherokee Purple Tomato Daniel's Tomato For those of you following all of this: We did also win on Ebay our packet of German Fildderkraut Cabbages with the huge, really pointy gnome-like heads (the girl in the picture is not included)-- There are going to be about 25 seeds, and the plants are supposedly HUGE so we will have to carefully find a place for them NOT in our small individual beds......

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Seeds, seeds, and more seeds!

As we're heading quickly into our first official outdoor growing season, we realized that our seed bank needed a bit of a makeover. Until the end of March, it consisted of a few large cardboard boxes with individual bags of seeds tossed in willy-nilly. Then our ENVI 200 lab decided to use a drizzly Thursday afternoon to organize our thousands of seeds (yes, thousands!) into a better system.

The first task was to sort through all of the small bags to group similar seeds together, then to systematically add each type of seed to an electronic inventory, and finally to group similar seeds together in large labeled envelopes that make finding what we want much easier. In the process we discovered that we have a lot of beans and squash (each of these piles spread over half a table!), several herbs, some sunflowers, and so much more. We also found a few surprises - purple carrots, anyone?

Many seeds in our collection are heirloom seeds donated to our seed bank by groups like the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and American Indian tribes including the Seneca and Cherokee. We plan to expand our selection as we can; any donations of heirloom, organic, and/or non-GMO seeds are welcome!

All of us here in RC's garden club and ENVI 200 class are excited to get some green in our garden as soon as the risk of frost is gone. As some of our recent posts show, we've already planted a few things at the garden site, including potatoes and strawberries. We have hot peppers, tomatoes, and several other plants started in our indoor lab area just waiting for their chance to move to the garden on Elizabeth Campus. Hopefully some of our newly sorted seeds will be part of the excitement!


The blog is finally up and running! All of the pictures look amazing, I am so happy to see PROGRESS on this project, as the garden began in August as a dry patch of dirt and was hand dug by very dedicated RC students. It is my pleasure to be hired as the RC Garden manager through the department of community service this semester!

Currently the garden is a community service project, as half of all the produce grown in the garden will be donated to the Salem Food Pantry at the end of the year to provide them with much needed fresh, healthy produce. This is the mission of the up and coming garden club, soon to be official with the approval of a new constitution. The garden also serves the Environmental science program on campus, as the Environmental science 200 class is putting in a lot of much needed work on the garden and tending to their student plots.

I was very happy to obtain funding from the sustainability group at Roanoke- RCsustain for a solar powered electric fence! The fence will ensure a sustainable way of protecting our garden from the deer that wander across Elizabeth Campus. Thanks again to RCsustain!

Lastly, I would like to share some pictures from the beginning of the creation of the garden :)

The crew putting compost on the beds

Kassi and I playing in the dirt

Alex planting:)

Jill :)

Bean plants!

~Carrie Carson
RC Garden Manager :)

Friday, April 8, 2011


........was cool and grey and a bit rainy--but it certainly didnt dampen enthusiam for Our Intrepid Leader Jesse Griffin's absolutely beautiful pig roast in front of the Chaplains office on campus. Thirteen hours of pig cooking and smoking on live hickory coals: it began with mens breakfast Thursday night, and extended into Friday afternoon/evening Relay for Life. This was yet another significant positive turning point for this next generation of Campus Culture at Roanoake College--and we are pleased to report that the Garden-and-Envi-gang were well represented at the pig-pulling (and pig-eating)! By the time these pics were shot, the pig was already being pulled on the tables, and the pit was mostly home to separate hams, sausages, chickens, and what-not.

Planting Day!

It was a beautiful day to get out and start planting our garden... unfortunately we still had quite a bit of work on our plot before we could get this looking like a real garden...

After a little work, our garden actually started to look like a garden

Now that all of the plots were laid out, the students were able to begin planting their own individual plots using companion planting. Each post contains a separate plot for each of the students to grow their crops.

In addition to planting, we also began to turn over our topsoil that will eventually be put on the garden beds.

... and in the process this became a mole hunt...

By the end of the day, we had all of our early seeds planted, and even a few transplants of strawberries to give us a little green to our plots...


Pictures of upperclassmen assembling garden beds.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

We began the season by starting many types of hot peppers including; Chili de Arbol, Cayennes, Xelas, Mayan Love peppers, Grayson County Peppers, and Punjab small peppers. We also started tomatos, corn, cucumbers, and okra to be transplanted after the last frost. We began the season by starting many types of hot peppers including; Chili de Arbol, Cayennes, Xelas, Mayan Love peppers, Grayson County Peppers, and Punjab small peppers. We also started tomatos, corn, cucumbers, and okra to be transplanted after the last frost. Cayenne peppers already ripening!

All of our indoor Chili de Arbol and Cayenne plants

One of our Okra plants started a few weeks ago
Flower on a Chili de Arbol

Envi 200 lab for4/7/11

Greetings all-- it is going to be an excellent day for planting. I suggest that we all just bring our seeds and materials and meet at the garden on EC directly this afternoon at 3 pm. I will bring the potatoes and onion sets and some manner of other things, as well as the updated planting grids for everyone, a planting timetable chart..... and whatever i think of between now and then. been there this morning, and the garden looks reallllly good. Bring your suntan lotion, any digging utensils spoons, or whathaveyou, and soda if ya got em.....Doc, Charles