Garden Journal: Week of 8/20

What an eventful week it has been!  This past week brought the return of UVa students, some tumultuous weather, and an earthquake.  (Two TJDGers, who shalL Remain nameless, may have sought safety in a coat closet during the quake.)  We hope everyone has recovered from the shock and is settling in nicely to wonderful–and mostly steady–Charlottesville.  The garden has weathered these changes beautifully, and the plants are eager to get to know the freshest crop of ambitious and talented students.  Welcome to UVa, everyone!

The TJ Demo Garden welcomes the Class of 2015!

Last Saturday, we were lucky enough to receive a visit from Pat Brodowski, Monticello’s head vegetable gardener, who shared many tips and techniques that will surely benefit our plants.  For one thing, we’ve learned that the peanut plant (Arachis hypogaea), which sends thin, finger-like pegs out from its flower stalk, requires a lot of surface area to produce its fruit.  The fertilized pegs, or ovaries, penetrate the soil and eventually mature into a legume pod filled with seeds (a peanut!).  In light of this new information, we will be rethinking the layout of the peanut gallery, but for now, we will add soil and encourage the plants to spread laterally. While we were inspecting the plants, Pat surprised us by digging up a few peanuts.  Anybody want a peanut?

Pat explains that the peanut beds should be extended outward.

Catching a glimpse of our first peanuts.

Lily thinks about taking this cash crop to the bank.

Pat will be presenting a workshop on plant-based textiles for our fall short course, so we thought it would be fun to check out the progress of our cotton (Gossypium hirsutum).  None of our bolls have split yet; in fact, they are still green.  However, we did find lustrous and slightly gummy snow-white fibers inside a developing boll.

Lofty fibers fill our bolls.

It is impossible to resist the touch, the feel of cotton.

As usual, the garden presented us with a few challenges last week.  On Monday morning, we were sad to discover that a rogue branch had taken out half of a paw paw.  We wish the paw paw a speedy recovery–please keep it in your thoughts!

Hey branch, why don't you pick on someone your own size?

As you can see, our sunflower hairnets were no match for the pesky squirrels.  We will continue to experiment with hairnets this week by crafting them of more finely-woven materials.

Another victory for the squirrels.

In other news, Lily and I took the TJ Demo Garden to the lawn for the Student Activities Fair. We met some of UVa’s best and brightest, and we hope that all of our new friends will join us in the garden this semester.

Making this board brought us right back to our earliest scholarly endeavors at the school science fair.

Here are a few good reasons to stop by the garden:

Our caterpillars are turning into Monarch butterflies.

Our corn is the tallest on grounds.

Our skink is hoping to meet that special someone.

A stroll down one of our garden paths will surely take your mind off that pop quiz. (POP QUIZ: Identify all of the plants in this picture.)

Wish us luck as we embark upon our first fall season at the TJ Demo Garden!

–Rachael

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One Response to Garden Journal: Week of 8/20

  1. Jack Salisbury says:

    Garden looks great maybe the Skink and squirrel should get together… Jack S.

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