Last day of garden lab

Here are a couple of pictures I took to document the new projects we started yesterday–building a picnic table, designing and building a pea-scaffold, shaping an abstract sculpture of long tines of wood into a trellis that will also coax the peas skyward, mulching to protect from the heat, and putting in some new plantings.

A tower of peas poised to grow.

A tower of peas poised to grow.

Tines of re-purposed wood provide a pitchfork-like frame for peas to grow.

Tines of re-purposed wood provide a pitchfork-like frame for peas to grow.

Here is a snap of the some of the yukkier denizens of our new ecosystem, aphids that have infested the cabbage.

Aphids preying on the bolting cabbage.

Aphids preying on the bolting cabbage.

The UC ag resources website has this to say about them. They are indeed specialists, and called cabbage aphids~

DESCRIPTION OF THE PEST

Cabbage aphids are green gray with a white, waxy coating. They commonly occur in dense colonies, often covered with waxy droplets. They prefer to feed on the youngest leaves and flowering parts and are often found deep within the heads of cabbages or Brussels sprouts. The aphid has a simple life cycle with adult females giving birth to live offspring throughout the year in most parts of California. Both winged and wingless adults occur; the winged adults have a black thorax and lack the waxy coating. The aphid does not infest noncruciferous crops but can survive on related weed species when cole crops are not in the field.

No doubt we will see more similar “pests,” as we continue to grow things. I think the cabbages were a bit vulnerable because they were stuck in their pots so long before they initially got planted and they got kind of weak overall. Also, since we are just starting to build up our soil and its microbial worlds with new compost, the soil is also kind of “new,” and probably not as hardy a nutrient as it will be even in a few weeks.

And lastly, a group-ish picture as things wind down for the day.

Relaxing around the new picnic table that you guys just built!

Relaxing around the new picnic table that you guys just built!


Watering – Tuesday, March 12th

I watered the garden this morning, but the real exciting things happened when class started!

We worked on the following things:

1. We finished the bench!

2. We cleaned out the (molding?) buckets of standing water by the back fence!

3. We moved a lot of compost!

4. We transported some of the orphan plants!

5. We made a pea trellis!

6. Ellen and I made this pea tee pee!

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Overall it was a very productive last class day in the garden, I think most of us will be going back often, even after the quarter ends.


Book Review – The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession

Every suburbanite must read!

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In The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession, Virginia Scott Jenkins explores the history, inspiration, and the physical and social evolution of the American front-lawn aesthetic.  Jenkins shows how the American perception of the lawn was shaped by the industrial and agricultural revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the implications of American advertising, and the morphing of traditional American values.

Lawn grass is not a naturally occurring feature on the American landscape, but the ability of American soil to sustain various versions of lawn grass contributed to the proliferation of its existence.  The primitive history of American lawn grass can be traced back to New England in the 1600s where it flourished as an “invasive species” by today’s standards; European species of weeds and grasses were introduced via discarded bedding, fodder, and manure from ships’ ballasts.

The first foreign grasses and grass seed markets were used to accommodate livestock and other agricultural purposes in the 1800s.  Lawns defined as “a portion of a garden or a pleasure ground covered with grass and kept closely mown” first appeared in England and France.  It is interesting to note that this definition equates the lawn to a garden, which are entirely separate ideas in American society today.  The English notion of a lawn, as portrayed in books, inspired wealthy American landowners to craft their own lawns.

Then the nineteenth century upper middle class emulated the aristocratic elite by growing lawns in their front yards and felt that “a widespread lawn […] conveys an impression of ample extent and space for enjoyment.  By this time, grass purpose had transformed from functional to recreational and aesthetic.  City beautification movements, campaigns, and clubs were led by the wealthy, and labor companies sponsored gardening competitions.  Beautification projects paused for a few decades when gardeners and community leaders concentrated on growing victory gardens during World War I, which we discussed in class.

In the twentieth century, the popularity of country clubs and golf course upheld the elite reputation of the lawn and golf course turf became a “measure of perfection” for American lawns.  Government funded research on turf and lawns resulted from close personal relations between golfers of the U.S. Golf Association and officials on the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Print media and advertisements directed at the growing middle class portrayed well-manicured lawns as a sign that indicated the owner as a good neighbor, citizen, and family man.  During the 1930-40s, lawn owners struggled to maintain their “velvety carpet of grass,” and again reverted to growing victory gardens.  At the same time, park projects of the Works Project Administration started an appreciation for park-like landscape.  I found it interesting that the lawn as a residential ornament had such a political past.

The postwar suburban flight resulted in “the biggest lawn boom of all time,” as reported by a newspaper.  In the suburbs, lawns served as a display of socioeconomic status like never before.  New lawnmowers and other tools of convenience proliferated with the growing competitive suburban lawn culture to maintain the perfectly front yard.  Jenkins also discusses the American lawn as a man’s, or husband’s, responsibility.  I found it particularly interesting that she attributes her mother’s lack of attention to her own lawn to the fact that she was a young widow.

The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession comprehensively analyses the development of the American lawn from a historical, political, socioeconomic, and cultural approach as it evolved to serve different purposes and represent the ideals of the American dream.  By doing so, it reveals the deep-rooted traditional values attached to the lawn that hinders ideas like Ron Finley’s sidewalk garden from being socially acceptable and gaining popularity.  Although this academic book references an extensive list of sources, I found this book to be an easy and enjoyable read! Having grown up in a gated suburban community, this book introduced me to the social, political, and economic influences that trimmed and manicured the concept of the American lawn as a natively suburban yet artificial landscape.  I would recommend this book to all fellow suburbanites!


Combating Food Waste

I participated in Food Forward this weekend, along with Jen, who coordinated the whole thing.  It was really interesting to see how some organization and volunteering can switch up our established food economy and cut back on some of our food waste and hunger problems. Then I came upon this article on Grist: http://grist.org/food/plate-tech-tonics-how-smartphones-can-help-stop-food-waste/  It gives an interesting look at other groups that are redistributing the food economy, like Food Forward. Worth reading!


Garden Visit: March 11th, 2013

I went by the garden today around 3:00 pm to water the plants and do what I could.

The beds were looking a little more dry than usual since it was pretty warm out today! I spent a lot of time making sure that I watered all of the beds and surrounding plants.

Although there doesn’t seem to be as many plants as earlier in the quarter, some plants are looking so full and beautiful!

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The garden has come so far since the beginning of the quarter! I love all of the signs that everyone has made. They add such a wonderful touch to the space! Good job guys! 🙂

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Garden Visit: 3/2/13

Today was a really breezy day and everyone seemed to be outside.
A lot of people were out in sunset rec relaxing and sunbathing, and surprisingly I saw some of them come by and visit the garden!

A family was perusing the garden before I got there, and left once I came.

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I also noticed that the shed was in disarray again.  A misthrown frisbee or volley ball must have hit it.  I put it back together to protect the tools from the sun.

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Otherwise the garden looked to be doing fine!

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Garden Visit: 2/23/13

Today was a really dry day for the garden.  The past few days have been incredibly hot so I had to make many trips to refill the watering can.

Many of the plants seemed to be bolting, some a lot more than others.

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