Bowdoin Organic Garden

Seasoned Garden Veterans

Story posted August 18, 2014

Tara and Elina recount their experiences during the dog days of summer at the garden:

From Tara:  It's crazy to think that we've been working in the garden for two months!  We have been fortunate to have a beautiful summer, great weather, plenty of rain when we need it but not too much, so things have been running smoothly!  We've been continuing to seed, transplant, and do weeding, but lately the harvest has been picking up so things we planted earlier in the season are finally ready to eat!  It has been so satisfying watching something that we put in the ground or planted as a tiny seed grow into something vibrant and green, and for the vegetables we've grown to now be feeding people.

At the start of July we began our work-trade with Crystal Spring Farms, which involves two of us (usually one intern and Mike) going twice a week to the farm that neighbors the BOG plot on Pleasant Hill and helping them harvest for two hours.  These hardcore farmers (and I mean hard. core.) work every day from 6 am to 6 pm and harvesting with them means we also have to start at 6 in the morning.  It has been a great learning experience working with the interns there and farm owner Seth, seeing how they run their large-scale farm.  They use more complex equipment (e.g. tractors) and some different techniques than we do in our small garden since they have so much more land to work with (they are sometimes so far apart that they communicate by walkie-talkie!) and produce so many more vegetables.

On the occasional rainy or exceptionally hot day, Elina and I (with occasional help from Mike or Sara--and even Facilities) have been putting together a cider press so that in the fall the BOG club can make fresh apple cider from local apples!  Despite the somewhat challenging assembly instructions (that begin with a warning--best a project for more than one person--and end with the following sentence: "before you begin assembly..."), we have very nearly completed it.  It took us a trip to Facilities' carpenter shop to get some missing pieces and an afternoon spent rubbing the wood with food-grade butcher block oil, but now our project actually looks like a cider press, complete with a wheel to turn that grinds the apples and a large metal "foot" that then presses down on the mashed-up apples to squeeze out delicious cider!  Keep your eyes peeled for BOG events in the fall involving our awesome cider press and be sure to congratulate us on how well put-together it looks.

Elina writes:  July has been a whirlwind of seeding, transplanting, harvesting, weeding, rototilling--gardening has a comforting rhythm to it, because while there's a cycle to our garden, rarely do we solely become absorbed in harvesting or weeding--every day still remains a surprise.

Some highlights:  One particular day was so humid, our bodies all had a thin layer of dirt and sweat (very attractive).  We spent the day in the 52 Harpswell garden transplanting watermelon and beets under the heat and under the water sprinkler.  I felt so accomplished, mud clinging to my face and arms, and just looking forward to the shower at the end of the day.

One of the most exciting thinks to happen in the garden since our record-breaking radish harvest has been the arrival of the already-beloved construction radio.  We've memorized the line-up of "commercial-free all music hours" and have overdosed on pop music (that is, we have memorized all the lyrics to top 40 songs).  Sara introduced us to bluegrass but we have yet to form an opinion on the genre.

Some not-so highlights:  The flowers in the South Street garden have begun blooming, but if you look closely, there are little holes all over the leaves.  I spent one morning with a bucket of water in hand, looking for beetles with shiny green heads, brown wings, and tiny white dots along their tails, also known as Japanese beetles.  I picked off these little beetles (who are particularly sleepy in the morning) and drowned them in my bucket.

For the same garden, Tara and I mulched the lanes of flowers with pine needles and leaves to suffocate the weeds before they outcompete the flowers.  In the mulch we found hideous larvae of a size Sara claims to have never seen before.  I drowned those as well (not a pleasant sound when stepped on).

Besides these insect-related incidences, the garden looks beautiful.  The 52 Harpswell garden has surprsed and impressed us all.  I'm already beginning to mourn the end of summer.

"I'm already beginning to mourn the end of summer."