Author: Nicholas Dorian

That time we made some beds

Ahoy green beings,

This weekend was the first ever Tom Thumb’s Student Garden/GreECO reps day of community service. The GreECO reps, an organization of environmentally minded leaders of greek life at Tufts, sought out our garden as a place to volunteer this spring. And what a day it was. Not only did spring rear her soft head, but the sun emerged in time to build new beds and fill them with soil, roll out some seed bombs (for our campus-wide event on Earth Day), give the fence a fresh coat of blue-mint paint, and sow a patch of native wildflowers.

The new beds look awesome (see below) and with the creative brush of a few artists, they’ll fit right in with the others. Deciding on what to plant in them is another story (and probably the topic for a future post since companion planting is such a hot topic), but we’ll most likely use parts of them for summer squash, mustard greens, kohlrabi, and beets. Construction was a cinch: for our 4’x8′ bed, we used untreated 2”x12″ planks with 3” screws at the seams, reinforced with cross-braces. Each bed took about 30 minutes to assemble, plus an extra hour to dig the hole, remove weeds, and fill with new soil. If you’re trying to build beds for your plot, two alternatives to our design would be to add a weed blocker cloth to the bottom and/or outfit the bed with a drip-irrigation system. Since we’re on a tight budget, we decided to forgo both of those options; in the long run, I don’t think our garden will suffer.

Bed #1

Bed #2 (front left)

The second product of our day was seed bombs—hardened clay capsules of seeds and compost designed to be lobbed into hard-to-reach places or bare earth that could use some color. The recipe we used was 1 part air-dry clay: 1 part compost :1 pinch of wildflower seed, with water to moisten to a paste (thicker than peanut butter). For a 5 lbs tub of clay (picked up at our local Michael’s) we were able to make ~60 seed bombs. And now that they’re made comes the fun part: we get to spread wildflowers all around the campus, probably much to the chagrin of facilities. So if you’re wandering around campus this summer and see and oddly placed cluster of flowers, you can thank the Tom Thumb’s Student Garden 🙂

Overall, it was truly amazing seeing everyone work towards a common goal—the success of our garden this season—and have fun the in process. I think everyone had a fantastic time during our work day, and hopefully it’s the first of many in a partnership with the GreECO reps.

Happy planting,

-N

p.s. Our seedlings are looking excellent in the greenhouse. We hope to plant them (i.e. beans, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, and others) next weekend.

IMG_2221-1

An assortment of peppers, tomatoes, cukes, beans, and melons.

If you’re interested in helping out this summer, please don’t hesitate to email me at nicholas.dorian@tufts.edu

Spring is finally here

Greetings garden lovers! It’s been a while since this blog has been used, but I’m still going to try to get it back up and running. My name is Nick, and I’m the current president of Tom Thumb’s Student Garden at Tufts University. We are a student-run gardening collective that produces sustainably grown food for three seasons of the year. We place importance on garden education and frequently hold discussions about various topics in botany and pollinator ecology during our Wednesday evening meetings. We provide a place where students can get away from the rush of school and relax for a short while, regain their thoughts, get their hands in the dirt, and harvest some delicious produce. If you want to visit, we’re located just across from South Hall.

I’m sure you’re anxious to find out how the garden fared over Boston’s record-breaking winter, so here’s brief update: Luckily, our garden did not take a terrible beating. A few of the beds collapsed from beneath (more on that later), but both our greenhouse and shed continue to stand tall. Although some of the sage suffered broken branches and only 1/5 of the garlic we started in October successfully sprouted, our onions, self-seeded arugula, and bulbs (e.g., grape hyacinth, globular alliums, tulips) were quick to emerge once the snow pack melted.

We’ve also started a bunch of different fruits and vegetables up in the greenhouse. This year we went for more weirdos (e.g., cool heirloom tomatoes, Japanese eggplants etc. list to follow) than sheer productivity, so I’m curious to see how much food we actually get. We’ve been keeping track of our seedling’s progress in our trusty blue book, so I’ll transfer that over to this log shortly.

Today was our first official work day of the year. We had 5 pairs of hands weeding the beds, raking leaves, and praising the glorious spring sun. Overall it was a successful afternoon, and we even planted a variegated honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) to grow around the arbor (I was planning on getting a trumpet vine, but I was unsure if the arbor could withstand its weight after a few years of thick growth). This honeysuckle, although not native, is a non-invasive favorite of bees; still, we should keep a close eye on it next year to make sure it doesn’t step its boundaries.

Next week is the garden club’s day of service with Tufts GreECO reps. We’ll be building two new beds for the garden and removing a few smaller ones that have gone into disrepair. In addition, we’ll be crafting seed bombs and planting a pollinator garden. It should be a fun day of gardening and bonding (even if it’s supposed to be a little rainy).

All for now, but stay tuned. I’ll be posting garden musings, photos, tips, guest blog posts, and pretty much any other seeds that cross my mind throughout our growing season.

-N