Sunday, June 17, 2012

Orange, and Yellow and Red, Oh My!

This is just a quick post to share the huge variety of carrots that are growing in Williams garden!  There are have several strains growing within a single bed in Parson's: Minicor, Cosmic Purple, Scarlet Nantes,Yello, and Nelson.  The Cosmic Purple, deep crimson with a bright orange interior is my favorite carrot, and quite a bold vegetable indeed.  It seems to grow to a much more imposing size than do the other varieties.

The bed wasn't thinned properly, so we also got some pretty interesting carrot shapes!

The orange one in the middle looks like a squid.

This evening, I used garden carrots to make a lovely carrot, snap pea, avocado, and cilantro salad.  Quite refreshing!  I think the different varieties of carrots are beautiful together.  From now on, I plan to be permanently dissatisfied with plain ol' orange carrots from Stop and Shop.

Who knew carrots took so many different forms?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bunnies, bunnies, everywhere!

I was pretty reluctant to post a story about this, because I think it might be the most interesting thing that happens in the garden this summer.  However, I decided that it was too exciting not to share!  Just promise that you'll keep on reading.

I was watering the greens the other day when, lo' and behold, the earth started to move under the chard!  I leaned closer to take a look.  Pushing aside a giant leaf, I realized that what I thought was dirt was actually a sizeable hole in the ground, convincingly camouflaged with fur and dead leaves.  And what did I find sticking out of the hole, but several tiny bunny ears and tiny bunny noses!  As I observed, the patch of ground started to wiggle and more bunny limbs came poking out of the hole.  Rabbits were living - where else? - in the cabbage patch! (Technically, the bed only contained one row of cabbage, but the cliche of rabbits in a cabbage patch is just too hard to resist.)  

Unexpected visitors (or am I the visitor?)

The bunnies were very hard to see at first, but I eventually counted 5 of the little guys huddled together.  They didn't seem very happy to have been watered, but didn't look like they would be moving any time soon.  Which left me with a dilemma: rabbits aren't known for their gardening skills.  In fact, they're pretty terrible at gardening.  Quickly dispelling dreams of a private garden workforce of pet rabbits, I realized the bunnies wouldn't be any help at all - and might even *gasp* eat the plants!  It was even pointed out to me that rabbits can reproduce in 3 months, yielding an exponentially increasing army of bunnies that would take over the garden and, eventually, the entire Williams campus.  Something had to be done.  

One of the cutest things I have ever seen.
I decided that the bunnies needed to be relocated elsewhere.  However, I still wasn't sure how to move them.  Thankfully, my friend Anna had an idea.  We would put the bunnies in the box!  This method seemed pretty ideal, until the bunnies realized that we were after them.  After we picked up the first one, a couple stayed in the nest, but the rest of them started hopping away!

A rogue bunny!
Luckily, baby bunnies aren't great at hopping and didn't venture outside of the bed of greens which they liked to call home.  It wasn't too much trouble to track them down and scoop them up, one at a time.

After a few minutes of rabbit-wrangling, we had them all trapped safely in their box.  Catching the bunnies was both wonderful (they were so soft!) and horrible (they were pretty unhappy) at the same time.  Most of them tried to jump out of the box.  Somehow, they didn't seem comforted by the bok choy and chard with which we covered them.

A boxful of bunnies
After arguing over which part of the bunnies was the cutest (their miniature paws or their tufty tails?  Or their little twitchy noses???) Anna and I did some internet research about how to relocate families of rabbits.  We soon determined that they were likely old enough to live on their own, and picked up some interesting facts along the way (ex. Did you know that mother bunnies must lick their young offsprings' genitals to help them pee? Whouldathunkit.)

Box in arm, we set off across campus to find a new home for the bunnies.  After scouting out a decent spot in the drizzly weather, we released them into an overgrown, wooded area far, far away from the garden.

As we watched them scamper off into the underbrush, we wished them a safe and happy life eating someone else's vegetables.  

Summer in the Garden

Hello, gardeners and garden connoisseurs!

Welcome to summertime in the garden.  My name is Alix Wicker and I'm the Zilkha Center intern in charge of tending to the Williams garden for the next few months.  I'm incredibly excited to have the opportunity to build and explore the garden, and to share the results with all of you!  I hope to learn quite a bit about every step of food production - from planting to harvesting to cooking to eating - along the way.

A bed of yummy lettuce
This season is beautiful in Williamstown, and the weather has been lovely for the short time I have been here.  I snapped some photographs of the garden last week when I had the chance to sneak away from my duties working at Reunion.  So much is in season!  The garden is practically overflowing with snap peas, carrots (5 different kinds!), lettuce, radishes, bok choy, kale, chard, broccoli, and garlic scapes.  I turned most of those vegetables into a stir fry last night - my first meal of many from the garden.

The sugar snap peas are to-die-for.  The huge, sprawling pea plant has continued to spread, claiming most of the bed as its own (which I am perfectly OK with).  I plant to stake the plant sometime soon so that it can continue to expand!  I like the snap peas best straight from the garden and I couldn't help but eat almost all of them when I was harvesting for the Zilkha Center lunch today.

The best thing ever.

The kale has flourished, as well.  I think this beautiful variety is Red Russian kale, but I'm not quite sure where I took the picture.  With the help of dining services, I plan to cryovac the kale and save it for use all year.

Red Russian kale
The radishes come in many varieties, some of which turned out rather strangely.  I've included one of the more interesting pictures below.  Unfortunately, many of the radishes were past their prime or had been eaten by insects.  I managed to salvage a few of them to share at lunch today.
Purple Plum Radish
French Breakfast Radish

We held our first harvest last week, gathering snap peas and salad greens for dining services to use during Reunion Week at Williams.   Only a small group of us attended, since most students hadn't yet returned to campus.  It started to rain just as we were finishing, but Kendra, Cedar, and I managed to harvest quite a bit, both for the college and for ourselves.  There is lots more eating to be done!  

Kendra with her bounty of garlic!

Thank you for reading!  Please keep checking the blog.  I will try to keep it updated a few times a week with photos and recipes (and I will hopefully post more later today).
Happy gardening,