Huge thank you to our friend, Sam Peniak, for designing this awesome logo for the IWU Peace Garden. We think it looks awesome and we hope you do too. Don’t forget to like our Facebook Page to see more of the awesome images we have.
So this past week, I learned a very valuable lesson. And it has to do with tomatoes. But first, a little background:
The tomatoes we are growing are of the indeterminate variety. This means their growth is “indeterminate” in the sense that they will grow for as long as you allow them to; they are true vines. The tomatoes donated to us by Mrs. Casey, a lovely lady, are of said variety and they have been our fastest growing plants thus far. As such, are tomatoes have grown increasingly bushy and Professor Simeone informed us that they would be in need of pruning. He showed us a demo of how to prune and away we went.
Now, I thought I understood the pruning so I decided to take the process a little further to allow more room for the plants and to open up some space for them. I did this without really checking to make sure that was the proper way to do things (see the problem here?). So I cut leaves down and went along my merry way.
After doing this, I went home to further research pruning to find more techniques and make sure I was utilizing the most effective method. Turns out, I was doing it exactly the wrong way. Instead of removing the “sucker” which forms in the joint between the stem and a non-flowering branch and eventually becomes an offshoot stem, I had removed the non flowering limb. This is a problem because the non-flowering limb is what holds the leaves that photosynthesize and provide energy for the plant….yikes. Fortunately, I had really only concentrated on one plant, which now looked like the Christmas Tree from Charlie Brown; the rest remained relatively unscathed. However, I fear I have doomed this plant.
The lesson here is this, well, there’s actually a couple: one, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If no one knows the answer, DONT do anything. Better to wait and check later. Two, be patient. Gardening is a long process and while timing is definitely important, don’t rush anything as you may cause more harm. Three, do your research. If I had researched tomato pruning before I had actually done that, we would not have had this problem.
The good news is that only one of our over a hundred tomato plants is in real danger and I have hopes for its survival. Still, the lessons have been learned and we move forward with them in mind to ensure that future mistakes like this are avoided.
It has certainly been an interesting ride so far. It is hard to believe that just a few short months ago, we didn’t have the land, we didn’t have a plan, and we didn’t know what we would be growing. But that quickly changed, due to the hard work of several members of the IWU campus, and the overwhelming support from various factions of faculty, students, and staff.
Yet the garden is still growing, and our plan is still evolving. We are growing some produce for Sodexho, our food service here on campus, (mostly potatoes). But the rest remains largely undetermined. We intend to donate some to charity and have been in contact with Clare House, but is that the best way to address food justice? Is that not just an attempt to deal with the symptoms of an inequitable food society, and not address the source of that problem?
I don’t mean to doubt or question our decision to donate to Clare House, they need the food and as this is our first growing season, we are limited in our production of produce as only a portion of our land is being cultivated right now. I simply wish to ruminate on the possibilities before the garden, and to invite ideas as to how to best solve this complex issue before us.
How do we eliminate food deserts? How do we ensure proper nutrition for all? These are no simple questions, and there are no simple answers. Fortunately, I am at a University that happens to have some really smart people, and I rest easier knowing that even if my time is complete before the task at hand is, someone will pick up the torch and carry on. The passion and involvement from our campus community has proven that, and so I eagerly await to see the future garden.
Much has happened since our last post. While the IWU community was busy cramming a semester of work into a single month, we at the Peace Garden were busy trying to prepare beds for the veggies that were started just after spring break in the CNS greenhouse. With the help of our committed volunteers, including Professor Gearhart’s entire May Term class, we were able to accomplish a lot.
As of today we have prepared nearly seven rows, six of which are fully planted. Those plants include: over seventeen different variety of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, potatoes, carrots, beets, thyme, cucumbers, pumpkins, butternut/summer squash, peas, gourds, nasturtiums, sage, tomatillos, and onions.
We have many plans for the coming summer months. This week we will be constructing a gutter system to collect rainwater from our shed. Along with this we will be digging and planting our final row. This row will contain more tomatoes, peppers, and something different, lettuce.
We invite you to join us anytime between 4 PM – 7 PM on May 5th, 9th, 12th, and/or the 16th to help us prepare the soil for our first planting! There’s a link below where you can sign up, and if you are able bring a water bottle, shovel, and gloves.
(FYI: May 5th will be from 5 PM – 8 PM)
It has been a few days but I just wanted to take a second to thank everyone that came to the groundbreaking ceremony on the 17th. We truly appreciate the enthusiastic support from the IWU and Bloomington-Normal communities.
On a similar note, I’d also like to thank Student Senate for granting the garden $2000 to put towards supplies, and Student Sierra Coalition for donating a rain barrel and composting bin.
First and foremost, welcome. After over a year of hard work by faculty, administrators, and students alike, the IWU Peace Garden will finally become reality this coming Tuesday, April 17 at 5pm. I invite everyone to join us as we celebrate this exciting moment in Illinois Wesleyan history.
This blog will serve as a location for individuals to receive information regarding the IWU Peace Garden. As we move on with our first year, I encourage everyone to use this page for sharing their garden related ideas and experiences.
Again, I hope to see you all on Tuesday. If you have any questions regarding the ceremony or the garden project in general, feel free to contact myself and Danny Kenny at email@example.com.