Friday, September 25, 2009

Slash Pine Press and Creative Campus Present: "Into the Woods" at the UA Arboretum

Due to the all of the rain this past week, students found few opportune times to visit or really work in the garden. Though they were finally able to go out yesterday -Thursday, September 23- their actions were limited to weeding and looking at the damage done by the rain. The results: fallen over tomato plants, bursted, rotten tomatoes (which occurs because of excess water), and an abundance of weeds. However, the baby pants are getting bigger and look like they've enjoyed all of the water.

No pictures today, folks. Instead, I wanted to talk about the upcoming Into the Woods event, a day of hiking and poetry, that will be hosted on October 3rd at the UA arboretum.

Imagine hiking with others in silence when suddenly, someone stops you. A person then appears in front of the group and begins reading poetry. When she is done, the group turns and continues to walk quietly, continuing to stop and listen to readers until they reach the end of the trail and enjoy delicious refreshments. This is what "Into the Woods" will be like - a relaxing, reflective, and unique spiritual experience that allows one to experience art, human creation, in the presence of the natural environment.

You can check out the official press release below:

Slash Pine Press and Creative Campus To Present "Into the Woods"

An Interactive Combination of Hiking, Poetry and Prose

Tuscaloosa, AL-September 22, 2009- Slash Pine Press, in collaboration with UA Creative Campus, will present "Into the Woods" Saturday, October 3rd from 9:30AM-12:00PM at University of Alabama Arboretum and cross country trails.

The traditional poetry reading, which typically consists of poets reading to an indoor room of a sitting audience followed by light conversation over a glass of champagne afterward, takes on a new wardrobe. Bug spray & trailheads merge together to lure young and old into the woods and appreciate a morning of hiking and contemporary writing.

The event will consist of four hiking groups made up of 15-20 participants. These groups will start on the 3.5 to 4 mile trail in fifteen minute intervals. Each tour group will listen to the work of two different writers.

As the participants walk through the arboretum, readers positioned along the trail will emerge from specific locations to recite a portion of a writer's work. After the completion of a section of story or poem, the group will continue in mostly silence until the next reader is reached.

The featured writer of each hike will be the final reader who will finish reading his or her piece to the group. The featured writers include: Patti White & Steve Kowalski at 9:45 AM, Wendy Rawlings & Juan Reyes at 10 AM, Nathan Parker & BJ Hollars at 10:15 AM, and Amy Monticello & Ryan Browne at 10:30 AM.

Those interested in attending are required to reserve a place on the tour by emailing They should indicate which tour group they are interested in joining. Space is limited to eighty participants to protect against trail erosion and provide a meditative experience for all those involved.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Our garden is full of peppers! These are Thai Hot Peppers, and are good as a spice in dishes, but don't eat them on their own! (I speak from experience)

Lizzie and Beth enjoy the delights of organically grown peppers.
The Ornamental Peppers are smaller and less abundant than the Thai Hots.

There's a huge fire ant bed in the oregano! We're working on getting some organic pest control in order to sustainably manage the ant problem in the garden. And finally, ahhhh a butterfly.

rain, rain, go away

It's been raining for almost a week straight, and the consequences are evident. The tomato plants received the most damage: one whole plant topped over, while all of the ripe tomatoes burst from an abundance of water.

Some survived, however, but we may have to pick them early if the warm weather doesn't continue. Mmmm... fried green tomatoes!

Today we mostly picked the dead leaves off the tomato plants and weeded. Here's a pile of dead leaves that we tossed in the compost pile (which will eventually be added back to the soil)

There was a sunflower here to greet us after the rain!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Working Away

Unfortunately, we have had a very rainy week here in Tuscaloosa, causing students to spend less time in the garden since wet soil has a higher potential for compaction. However, students continued to do minimal weeding and saw problems that they will start trying to solve once the soil is drier, such as the fire ants that have made their homes in the garden beds.

Students have recently discovered fire ants in the beds. They will have to order an organic spray to rid the garden of the ants.

Students continue to monitor the tomatoes.

Babies Everywhere! Students are excited to see little plants sprouting up after planting two weeks ago.

Please mark your calendars for October 3rd! The Slash Pine Press will be presenting "Into the Woods Hike & Experiments in Reading " at the arboretum and UA Golf Course. This is gauranteed to be a unique experience that connects poetry with the natural environment. You don't want to miss out! If you are interested, arrive at the golf course by 930 am.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Another Day at the Garden

This is a shot of the pretty fence that the arboretum staff generously built for the student garden. Mary Joe, Kenny, and Eady, Students for Sustainability can't thank you enough for offering your garden knowledge, abundant space, constant support, and most importantly, your love! If those reading haven't been out to the arboretum, you should definitely take an hour or two to go visit. It's a great space cared for by great people.

Above, UA student and Students for Sustainability member Eric VonNostrand helps weed the garden.

Having just learned about taking care of tomato plants, Lizzie Beale detaches suckers to help the plant conserve its energy.

That's all for now. If you'd like to get involved in the garden project or join Students for Sustainability, you can email and/or look for our facebook group, UA Organic Community Garden. Although we'll just be doing little gardening tasks for the next month or two, we greatly appreciate any help and want you to come out to the arboretum with us! Transportation generally isn't a problem, either. We like to arrange garden duty times so that multiple students can travel together and work side by side (we like cutting down our carbon emissions, too!). We'll continue to blog here about upcoming garden events, the arboretum, and student workshops.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Pictures from Our New Beginning

Almost everything is planted for the fall. Students spent this weekend helping mulch the garden with pineneedles from the arboretum and recyled newspaper from the University library. Now that everything is set in motion, Students for Sustainability will be establishing a daily schedule for garden managment where at least one student will be going out to the garden everyday. The purpose of this schedule is multifaceted - while students police the garden for unwanted visitors (bugs, weeds, deer, etc), they will also have a chance to watch their creation come to fruition. Of course, the best and most delicious part of the gardening process is eating the food you've grown.

Students play in the children's garden nearby. One, Lizzy Beale, becomes part of a human sun dial.

Thanks to the arboretum staff, Students for Sustainability re-used this bamboo to support the tomato plants during the summer. The student group will continue to recycle them.

The peppers are staying around a little bit
longer. These are the spiciest of all that were planted in the summer.

These mushrooms were hiding by the front gate. Aren't they beautiful?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Starting Seeds for Fall, Yay!

New babies a'comin' in the garden

Silently sleeping seeds soak in Alabama's soil. Soon, bird song and sun shine shall stir surprises within... so shoots and roots will slip and slither simultaneously deep towards earth's heart-center, and high by sky's face.

UA Students and alumni gathered this morning in the organic garden to clear the beds and rows of all the plants that are in the wrong place at the wrong time (also known as weeds).

We left the oregano, tomatoes, chives, and peppers to jive, but introduced the garden to broccoli, mustard green, collard, chard, rainbow chard, turnip, radish, onion, okra, kohlrabi, and pumpkin.

photo taken march 2009. Beth Hataway holding seeds for the Spring community garden at the Arboretum

All of the newcomers (except the pumpkins) are starting from seed today. Kids planted pumpkins while participating in a weekend children's garden workshop at the arboretum. The pumpkins in the children's garden had to be thinned, so we gladly transplanted some of the seedlings into the Community Organic Garden.

The Fall batch of tomatoes are getting bigger, but some have rough/dry marks on them; student volunteers are researching possible causes of the observed symptoms and will report their findings.

photo taken summer 2009, green tomato

This weekend, we'll need to work together to:
-integrate some compost into the soil
-plant winter squash
-Collect recycled newspaper from the UA libraries for mulching
-Collect pine straw from the arboretum for mulching
-mulch the garden rows and beds

photo taken Spring 2009, mulching with recycled newspaper from the University of Alabama libraries

photo taken Spring 2009, rows are mulched over with pine-straw and drip irrigation system is installed. carrots grow in the foreground with melons and mustard greens in the background


The pumpkin patch will be wonderfully festive come the Half-Hundred Celebration on Halloween, when Ultra Runner Nick Sella will run 50 miles and dedicate all pledges to the Friends of the Arboretum! All are invited to partake in this FUN-draising celebration at the arboretum on October 31st. Dress up in wild costume to entertain kids as they trick-or-treat!

Now is the time to dig in! To find out more about how you can contribute to the UA Community Organic Garden, email us with your questions and a tentative schedule of hours/week you are available! See you in the garden ~

Students for Sustainability

Tuesday, September 1, 2009