Around the Block

Just cruisin’ with my friend Meg in her Toro Workwoman vehicle. I interviewed her to find out the best way to get into volunteering with the University of Maryland’s Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Meg graduated from the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA), where I currently work. The experience that Meg gained through studying Ornamental Horticulture at the IAA led her to become the arboretum’s Volunteer Coordinator. We both work on North campus, so it is easy for us to pester each other. 🙂

Want to help beautify UMD? Email arboretum@umd.edu to sign up!

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Green Tomato Chutney

Near the end of fall, my friends Meredith and Hardeep showed me how to prepare and can green tomato chutney. Over the course of a day, we prepped, boiled, and heat-sealed enough chutney to send each of us home with over 20 jars apiece!

This chutney is special because all of the green tomatoes were harvested from the UMD Community Learning Garden, which Meredith manages. Hardeep and I were regular volunteers this summer. We had at least 100 green tomatoes remaining at the end of the summer and they all went into this recipe, along with locally-grown apples purchased from the Olney Farmers & Artists Market.

Everything else came from the Burtonsville Giant. Sorry.

Because the tiny jars are so giftable, I decided to design a Christmas-themed label. A 2″ diameter sticker nests perfectly on a standard-sized Ball jar lid, so I took advantage of Sticker Mule’s 10 stickers for $9 deal.

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And then, my super-Seinfeld-fan-friend Hardeep requested a Festivus sticker. It seemed apropos. Hardeep requested a square 2×2″ design so that he could print at home and add in a custom title. He is a regular hot sauce connoisseur and has a need to label his many varieties of homemade hot sauce.

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The way we cooked, canned, designed, and labeled together feels so rewarding! Thank you, Meredith and Hardeep for sharing your canning expertise and design feedback with me. Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus to all!

 

“Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way…”

-Frank Costanza, The Origins of Festivus

UMD Community Learning Garden Banner

Check out our crew in front of the fancy new UMD Community Learning Garden banner! We are but a few of many burgeoning gardeners who meet at 4 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays to learn about sustainable food production and help tend the raised beds and terraced plots.

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At the official hoisting of the garden banner last Monday. I ended up in the middle of the photo. This is awesome.

Sustainable Ag advisor Meredith Epstein (middle, in teal) manages the garden and leads the work hours. When I started working with Meredith at the Institute of Applied Agriculture, the garden quickly became one of my favorite spots on campus. This summer I grew soybeans, pole beans, green peppers, tomatoes, kale, thyme, sage, and basil in my garden plot.

I was excited when Meredith asked me to design a 12×4′ banner for the garden. I had previously made a sticker design for the garden club, so I took this as an opportunity to build consistent branding by pairing the same colors and fonts with the provided terp/carrot logo.

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At 12′ wide by 4′ tall, if you can’t see the banner to find the garden I feel bad for you.

The UMD Community Learning Garden is one of four campus gardens at the University of Maryland, College Park. Formerly called the Public Health Garden, it is nestled between the School of Public Health and the Eppley Recreation Center. You should definitely follow on Instagram.

Randie and Bill Explore Vermiculture

In my quest to take the trash out less, I have tried a couple of methods. One was to eat everything in the kitchen. Another was to compost.

I went to a composting workshop at the University of Maryland, but I was interested in learning how to turn my trash into plant food, and the workshop was focused more on campus sustainability. I don’t live on campus because I am 27 years old (or 77 in undergrad years). So I pressed on.

I had a stroke of luck when my co-worker Meredith asked me to give a 10-gallon Rubbermaid tub packed full of worms and trash to a friend of hers. I thought that as a gift to be given in the spirit of friendship, this was an interesting choice.

As it turns out, the worms eat biodegradable matter and create poop. While this may not sound extraordinary, the worm doodies, or “castings,” can be used as superfood for plants. Ka-ching!

I further explored vermiculture yesterday by creating two worm bins with my dad. We ordered a 600-count bag of worms from Nature’s Good Guys and split them. Today is day one and I already woke up to a few escapees making their way out of the worm farm. I hope for Bill’s sake that mom doesn’t see any worms coming out of his bin at their home.

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Cute little animal friends with their army hats, pickaxes and shovels. ❤