“You Can’t Love a Statistic”

Fall moves on as we approach the winter season and start thinking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, friends and family.  As I was reading today in the magazine Orion today, Michael Pollan, the gardening and food guru paraphrases Wendell Berry in saying “you can’t love an abstraction.  You can’t love a statistic.  You can love the person near you, and your community, and your neighbors.”

As a community garden that seeks to bring love to the land and foster communication between each other, its so important that we recognize the simple and profound act of planting a seed, of encountering your friend by the fig tree, of noticing the bluebirds washing their feathers in the bird bath.  Thank you to all of you who put forth your time and labor to honor this tradition and be certain that your actions here create ripple effects for the MIIS community and the soil.

Thanks to Nina and Jenifer for coming out to compost on Sunday.  We have some compost ready to sift so if your bed needs a little organic refresher, this Sunday would be a good time to use some compost made right here.

Work this Week

1.  Native Plant Bed preparation and tree removal.  This week, we will be preparing the far side of the garden for the planting of natives and will remove the two pluot trees for planting in a different location.

2.  Seeding of experimental beds.  By the end of this week, the experimental beds should be seeded with some different lettuce varieties for your salads


On Friday November 8th at 10 AM, we will be going to the Native Plant Greenhouse at the CSUMB campus to learn more about native plants and how we can incorporate more of them in our garden.  If you are interested in going, this will be a fun way to gain hands on knowledge about local native plant species to our area.  We can all carpool to CSUMB so let us know if youre interested.

Also on Friday November 8 from 7-9 PM in the garden there will be a fundraiser for a Guatemalan group called “Transitions” hosted by the IPS program.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!
Trent and KaylaScreen Shot 2013-11-04 at 3.37.10 PM

Halloween in the Garden

Hey Green Thumber’s

It has been a great week of weather, some rain, some sun, and seeds are in the ground!  On Sunday thanks to Stephanie Gentile, Katie Campbell, Mairi Miller, and others, the community plots have been planted with fava beans, garlic chives, peas, and leeks.

Also, thanks to the stupendous efforts of Matt Shipley, the keyhole ring plot in the back has been reworked and has transplants of broccoli, lettuce, and some garlic!  We also successfully sifted and used compost from our very own garden.


In other news, I had a great friend from Oregon who is a master gardener come and check out the garden.  He gave us some excellent garlic cloves to plant, reworked our worm boxes, and began to clear space for our native plant garden.


Don’t forget to get your tickets for the Chili Cook Off at Samson today and tomorrow for the party in the garden on Friday from 5-7 PM.  Next week, we will begin to look at how to establish our native plant garden as well as put some new starts to seed.  Come out on Sunday for a relaxing and enjoyable gardening day.

Till next week,

Trent and Kayla

Garden Update 10/21

Welcome everybody to the weekly OGT blog.  On this page every Monday, you can see what was accomplished on Sunday workday, what is to be done this week in the garden, as well as some helpful tips, inspiring agricultural literature, and future plans.

The withering of our sunflowers, tomato plants, squash, and tomatillo signal a shift in the climate in our cozy garden.  Yes, fall is here as the nights get chilly, the leaves rustle, and pumpkins and decorative gourds come out in full force.  This is arguably one of the most beautiful times of the year in Monterey and and awesome time to be outside in the garden.

Sunday Recap

Thanks to Jenifer, Kayla, Kate, Andrew and Katie for coming out!

We need more of you to come join us on Sunday’s.  It is really important to come out at least once during the semester to learn about how to turn compost and get engaged on projects in the garden.

1.  Compost was turned.  It looks great, and there should be some ready to sift for your plots if you haven’t planted yet.

2. Compost station has been moved down by the fence on the street to make it easier to move to compost.  Please tell anyone else you see coming to compost about this change

3.  The community plots by the shed have been turned and mixed with compost to get ready for planting!  We should be planting some fava beans and beets in this area so come by on Sunday to help out.

In the Garden this Week

  • There will be a meeting this Thursday at 8 am about a seed saving library project that will take place in the Monterey Public Library.  If you are interested in attending and want to hear more about this project, let us know.
  • Friday is International Education Day and we will be in the garden showing some high schoolers how to turn compost, plant some native plants, and take home a succulent.  If you are interested in volunteering for this event, call us up.
  • Thanks to Cypress Gardens and Nursery who donated 4 bags of soil amendment, we have two of the community plots ready to plant.  Hopefully this week, we will have some beets, fava beans, and other goodies in the ground.  If you want to help come plant, stop by on Wednesday afternoon or let us know when you can come by.

Other News

If your seeds haven’t sprouted, we recommend turning your soil with some compost and trying again.  We have plenty of new seeds in the shed and some compost that will be ready by the weekend.

If you see Professor McGinnis around, tell him thanks for donating the five native plants we have by the pluot trees.  We have milkweed, cyanothus, and a couple native grasses.  We hope to put them in the ground this week.

Don’t know what to plant?  Check out the book Golden Gate Gardening  in the shed for some ideas but until then, here is a list of some good plants to seed in the fall.


Fava Beans








Have a great week and here is some wisdom from a man who truly knows the importance of the land.

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”
― Wendell Berry


Trent and Kayla


Garden Plot Sign Ups & Intro to Gardening

cropped-308567_10150483884042009_415127986_n.jpgHello new and returning garden members,

In order to be assigned a plot for the Spring 2013 semester you must attend one of the two plot sign-up days: either Sunday February 17th at 1pm or Monday February 18th at 4pm.

This day will also include an special Introduction to Gardening for all of those new gardeners.  You have a few options for being involved.  You can help us with our community plots, adopt a plot on your own or just come into and volunteer!

Feel free to email us for more information: ourgreenthumbgarden@gmail.com

Composting and Worms

We had a great composting and vermiculture workshop this past week!  Thank you Heidi for putting this on.  Margaret and Ross each won a composting bin and are all set to reduce their carbon footprints!

New Composting rules:  We have had some strange items in our compost lately (including chicken bones and muffins) and would like to make change our rules a bit this year.

For now please only compost:

  • Raw Vegetables and Fruit
  • Egg Shells
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds

Thank you and happy gardening!

Vermicomposting Workshop this Friday 10 am-Noon

This Friday from 10am-noon, one of our fellow OGT gardeners will be leading a hands-on Vermicomposting Workshop in the garden.

Heidi was the public education manager for the Monterey Regional Waste Management District, the landfill in Marina, for almost 10 years. One of her favorite jobs at the District was teaching in the garden as the “Compost Gourmet.” She brings that knowledge and enthusiasm to maintaining our worm bins today.

This is your chance to learn how to build a compost pile, or set up a smaller worm bin to compost food waste in your apartment. We’ll be harvesting the worms  and raffling off a  free kitchen compost container!

Hi gardeners!

Here’s the plot assignments for this Fall. Pictures from our first work day will be up soon!

Remember even if you don’t have a plot, you are always welcome in the garden. Our workdays this semester are:

Thursdays 3-5pm

Friday 10am-noon

Sunday 1-4pm

Fall 2012 garden plot assignments

Vote OGT to receive Follies proceeds!

Hello gardeners and lovers of accessible green space!

We are beyond stoked to announce that Our Green Thumb has been nominated as one of 5 organizations to potentially receive the proceeds from Follies ticket sales !!! Only the top two organizations will win, so – vote for us!

What could Our Green Thumb do with the money?

  • offer a stellar campus-wide workshop on the subject of your choice, potentially with take-home-ables (could be: potted-vegetable gardens, rainwater catchment, vermiculture (worms!), compost systems, municipal waste field trip – OR anything awesome you can think of)
  • purchase lumber to frame each plot, both beautifying the garden AND preventing water and nutrient run off from beds
  • purchase additional compost infrastructure (we currently process between 200-400 lbs of your food scraps each week!)
  • purchase more decorative plants for planter beds and street-scape facing Van Buren
  • purchase a more diverse seed collection for gardeners
  • purchase more tools (replace our broken wheel barrel; more trowels, etc)

Follow this link to vote: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDdVMjAwanduQkM3WVZ0MU9QbS1PX3c6MQ

Thanks for your support, supporting YOUR campus green space!


Kale 101: Basic care and Harvesting tips

Howdy gardeners!

I’ve noticed three things going on regarding Kale in the garden this month (note: these do not apply to all plots!): aphids, poor care, and improper harvesting, the last of which inspired the sign pictured below.  Thus, I thought It may be helpful to go over a couple of the basics for those of you who are not familiar (or who want a refresher!).

First things first: Kale plants like to have a little space. This isn’t terribly surprising (many veggies do), but I was surprised to find recommendations of 12 to 18 inches between seeds. (Yes – a foot!) This allows Kale plants enough space for all of their leaves to receive sunlight when they eventually grow larger. This means that if you densely planted seeds and find your bed with thick rows of sprouts, your Kale will thrive best if you thin them out.
That leads me to another fact that growers new-to-kale may not realize: Kale is essentially a perennial crop, meaning it continues to grow and produce through multiple seasons, even multiple years, if you care for it correctly. An essential part of this care: harvesting.

The only way Kale will grow up big and strong to last multiple seasons is by undergoing continued, proper harvesting. So what’s the proper way?  Always harvest the older, larger leaves that are closest to the bottom of the stalk, and be sure to take each leaf stem-and-all. So long as you continue to harvest in this fashion, the plant will continue to produce new leaves from the top as it grows taller. But if you harvest the leaves from the top, they you will stunt the plants growth!
Also note: you should continuously remove yellowed leaves. If they are yellowing or have holes in them, it’s a sign that you’re not harvesting quickly enough!

Continued, proper harvesting is the number one way to fend your plants from all the insects who would like to make it their dinner instead of yours. The principle is quite simple: if you’re constantly getting your hands up in your Kale plants, you’re constantly disturbing where insects would like to set up shop. Furthermore, if you’re constantly harvesting then you’re taking the stuff they’d prefer to eat. It works out nicely, doesn’t it? Just harvest regularly and you shouldn’t have a problem.
That said, aphids are also fond of kale flowers. When a Kale plant does mature enough to begin flowering, you can make an exception to the chop-from-bottom-only rule and remove the flowers – before they attract aphids.

The bottom line is: be kind to kale, and kale will be kind to you!

Read more: How to Care for Kale | Garden Guides

From Shade to Mulch: Commemorating one trees service to the garden

As many of you know, the crazy wind storm that shook Monterey last Tuesday managed to knock over one of the large trees in our garden (!). Thankfully no person was hurt, and luckily very little property damage occurred (with the notable exception of a few succulents – may they rest in pieces!). Upon informing the Presidents office, we were promptly provided with wood-chipping services, and – less than 24 hours later – we had a giant pile of wood chips !

This worked out serendipitously, as we were in fact in need of mulch to combat weeds and redefine the paths between the plots. Thus on Sunday, about 15 garden members joined me in the garden to celebrate our dear trees passing and to put the resulting mulch to good use.


Sites DOT MIISThe Middlebury Institute site network.