Building a Raised Garden Bed

Written by: Eliza Whitfield

This semester, I’ve been taking a couple of food and agriculture-based classes; between that fact and my general love for the great outdoors, I decided that I wanted to grow my vegetables this summer. Feeling extra inspired, I decided to build two raised garden beds at my house in Upstate New York. I have always considered myself to be relatively handy, so I confidently drew up basic design plans for the beds and determined what supplies I would need. I figured I would build an eight-foot by the three-foot bed and a six-foot by the three-foot bed would provide sufficient space to grow a handful of vegetables.

I started my project with seven 2” x 6” x 12’ boards, six 2” x 6” x 8’ boards, and two 4” x 4” x 6’ boards. Using a circular saw I cut the 2” x 6” x 12’ boards; I cut three boards to 6’, three boards to 3’, and one board to 18” increments. I then cut the 4” x 4” x 6’ board into 18” increments.

I lined the boards up and using #9 x 3” outdoor screws,  I drilled two 18” boards against three 8’ boards — in the case of the 6’ bed, I only used one 18” board. I then attached the 4” x 4” ‘s to the ends of the lined boards.

I then added the 2” x 6” x 3’ boards to the other side of the 4” x 4” corner posts. Then repeated the process for the remaining sides of the garden bed.

The final step to completing these beds is: filling them with soil, compost, mulch, and seedling vegetables. I have not done this step yet, I will fill the beds in May once this semester is over and I am able to plant the vegetable seedlings.

I have made sure both beds are located in areas that recieve generous amounts of sunlight to allow the vegetables to grow big and healthy. These beds were very easy to build and through building them I was left feeling very accomplished and eager to produce my own food.

The Secret Garden

Written by Aleda Collins

How To Build A Raised Garden Bed For Cheap - Farmhouse on Boone

I live in a suburban neighborhood with very strict rules about landscape and property use. It is required to get approval from the neighborhood to paint your house, pave your driveway, and even remove potentially dangerous trees! Even worse–there are no gardens allowed! Container plants are great, but I have made it my goal to transform a hidden corner behind the garage into a make-shift ‘raised’ garden bed so I can incorporate companion planting into my practices. Companion planting is placing varieties of plants in a close proximity as to benefit each other throughout their lives. Benefits that come from companion planting include pest control, nutrients, or habitat for helpful critters.

All About Seeds Germination - theseedsmaster

So far, there is a 10 foot by 2 foot patch of land backed up to the house, lined with planks of wood that act as the walls of the garden bed. The walls are about 3 inches tall from the ground, just enough to pass as a raised bed. I have started the germination process with sage, oregano, basil, parsley, sweet mint, white onion chives, potato, and watermelon seeds. All of the herbs will be transplanted to this make-shift garden bed, whereas only one or two watermelon and potato plants will be transplanted and the rest will be given away to family and friends that are able to grow crops on their property. I chose to mainly produce an herb garden because herbs typically don’t grow to be too big, and subtlety is a priority.

Grow Your Own no-FUSS Herb Garden

Basil is said to improve the quality of neighboring herbs, as well as repel flies and mosquitos. Mint also repels mosquitos, aphids, and ants while attracting bees (Dyer, 2021)! The list of beneficial properties of herbs and other crops is endless, but the important thing to remember is to do your research before companion planting because some plants don’t like to leave near each other such as basil and sage. For that reason, they will be on the opposite sides of my herb garden.

Gardening comes in so many forms, and being creative with the space that you have can lead you to a successful harvest. I am eager to see how herbs grow alongside each other compared to in separate containers, and to see if I can get away with my secret garden.

My Mom’s Sunflowers

My mom has always been interested in all things relating to flowers. Every year in the early days of April, she would drive down to our local gardening store and buy a couple bags of soil and an assortment of flowers to plant in our flower bed in front of our house. She loved to plant daffodils, roses, and tulips. She would pick a warm Saturday morning in April and she would spend the whole morning planting her flowers.

While she always loved planting roses, tulips, and daffodils, she always wanted to plant sunflowers. My mom would always run into problems growing sunflowers with squirrels eating them early on or having them blow over from the wind or a storm. The sunflowers never would last the whole season. But my mom has had enough and she was more determined than ever to grow sunflowers to their fullest potential and have them last the whole season.

The type of daffodils my mom would plant every year

Last April, my mom enlisted me to help her grow the sunflowers. With the Covid-19 pandemic at its worst, we both had nothing to do and we can put our full focus on the flower garden. We first worked to space the sunflower seeds about 6 inches apart and 2 inches deep in the bed. We then made sure to water them regularly and monitor their growth. To deter the squirrels from eating them, we found that if we planted thorny or sharp tipped plants around the base of the sunflowers, they will not be a problem. Sure enough, during the whole growing process, we did not see one squirrel attempt to eat our flowers. To keep the sunflowers from blowing over, we used stakes and tied the sunflowers loosely to the stakes which proved to be successful. 

15 Different Types of Sunflowers - Sunflower Varieties To Plant
The type of sunflowers my mother and I were able to plant last April.

In about 3 months, my mom and I were able to grow the sunflowers up to 10 feet and we were able to keep them around without them dying prematurely. This made my mom so happy and it proved to be a very good project during the pandemic.

Jeff Joslyn April 6, 2021

An Unexpected Trip

By Mike Patterson

Gardening is something that I never really thought that I would get into. Looking at flowers and planting have been something that have never really been prevalent in my life. However in taking this class I have started to gain an appreciation for nature and the beauty that plants have and all the different qualities they possess. A couple of years ago I would never even have considered going to visit a garden while on vacation. But this time around that is not the case. This summer I am going to be taking a two week long vacation traveling to different parts of the United States. One of the stops that we are going to is Virginia. I was looking at things to do in Virginia and one thing I stumbled on was the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.

Photo by Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

From the moment I saw the garden I was immediately impressed. It has a classic look but with a modern twist. The garden has a beautiful orchid collection along with a butterfly garden. The garden has a little bit for everyone including art exhibits, live music, and a variety of tours that you can go on. After reading the description of the garden and looking at different photos I was hooked. Visiting the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden became a must on our summer trip to do list. I never would have thought that going to a garden would actually be something that I would want to do on a vacation. Normally I want to go to amusement parks or stay on the beach. Visiting a garden never really crossed my mind. Throughout the past couple of months I have gained a deeper appreciation for the beauty of nature and gardening.

Photo by Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

I am looking forward to my summer vacation and experiencing the beauty of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. It has a lot to offer people of all ages so I believe that it will be a great experience for our vacation. 

Photo by Don Williamson Photography

🌷 Signs of Spring 🌷

Cheers! Cheers! Spring is here!

By: Kyannah Hernandez

Rising under the avalanche of winter weathers, spring begins to sprout. 

Our community has several signs of spring, whether it be flowers blooming, animals leaving and arriving, or simple sunshine. 

According to Bird Watcher’s Digest, animals and flora to keep an eye out for are Woodcock, Peepers, Juncos, Ducks, Owls, and lastly, Tree and Flower Buds. One main sign would be that distinct spring smell, Bird Watcher’s Digest described the smell of spring as 

”earthy spring smell that the land produces in late February and early March. It’s equal parts rain and soil, grass and ozone, creating a perfume that no amount of chemical wizardry can replicate.”

Bird Watcher’s Digest

Known for its gloomy, showered down days; April is the primary month that introduces warmth in our New England area.

Being born in spring has added a sense of peace in my life. As I walk out into the Merrimack campus, just after 4:00pm- you will witness the geese who do not clean after themselves. You can see them near Austin Hall, by McQuade Library or even spread out around the Sak. 

Spring is a season of peace and tranquility, a truce against the harsh winter and the coming summer. A chance of blurred pasts and new beginnings; spring is beautiful. 

According to the Weather Channel, a common sign of spring would be the nature of:

“flowers start to bloom in parks, gardens and woods.”

Throughout the community, a flower is springing out of the soil; birds are flocking toward the north to take advantage of the increased insect populations. As birds follow food, when winter comes and food options decrease, birds travel back south until the chain commences again. 

Spring is all around us, it can be down the street or in your very own backyard. If you see it, take it in because when spring goes it’ll be a year before we’ll see these marvelous signs once more. 

Remember to Smile as bright as Earth’s Sun and Enjoy Spring!!

Farmer Dave’s CSA

Written by Kaitlyn Foley

Have you ever wished for access to fresh fruits and vegetables straight from a farm instead of the grocery store?  Well, look no further than Farmer Dave’s.  Farmer Dave’s is a farm in Dracut, Massachusetts that grows a variety of vegetables and fruit, and makes bakery items too.  Other than the farm itself, the business can be found at farm stands and in local famer’s markets as well.  Farmer Dave’s operates under a CSA model, which stands for community supported agriculture.  Instead of selling produce to grocery stores, a CSA is a membership that provides individuals with vegetables and fruit, depending on what plan they choose.  Right now, the farm has 2021 bakery shares, 2021 spring shares (an assortment of fruits and vegetables), 2021 summer fruit shares, 2021 summer vegetable shares, and 2021 late fall shares (an assortment of fruits and vegetables).  These “shares” are the different plans the farm offers its members to choose from.  The price of each share depends on what it includes and how long it runs for.  Using a CSA model allows Farmer Dave’s to collect money upfront, which is beneficial because they know how much money they should be able to put back into the farm. Not only does the farm supply their members with fresh locally sourced food; they also provide recipes, produce identification, and vegisodes, which showcase recipes and different ways to cook with the produce, that can be easily accessed on their website under farm resources.  

International interns harvesting spinach in the greenhouse to use for the CSA and their barn market. (picture taken from Farmer Dave’s Facebook)

Joining a CSA is a great way to eat healthy foods, support a local business, and help the environment.  By selling directly to the consumer, the CSA model decreases the amount of travel required, thereby lessening carbon dioxide emissions.  The farm also has reusable crates they package the produce in, which members can home and bring them back at the next pickup. 

Details about the 2021 Summer Vegetable Share 

Example of a share and reusable crate (picture taken from Farmer Dave’s Facebook)
  • It runs for 20 weeks from early June to late October 
  • Individuals are given two options to choose from:
    • A small share can feed one to two adults, or a family with young children, depending on how much they eat. 
    • A regular share can feed two to four adults, also depending on how much they eat. 
  • The shares include a variety of in season vegetables such as:
    • Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, beets, peppers, sweet corn, eggplant, summer squash, radishes, zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, basil, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, onions, garlic, shell beans, green beans, collards, winter squashes, and more.  

Florence Travelyan’s Garden in Taormina, Italy

By Alexandria DiPerri

On the east coast of Sicily, Italy is a beautiful place called Taormina. Within Taormina is one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. Pictured above is the owner of the garden, Florence Travelyan a woman who gained an interest in the creation of what is known as “pleasure gardens”. The garden explained here is called Hallington Siculo which is now known as Villa Comunale; public garden.

Florence’s Garden History

The beautiful Hallington Siculo garden is a beautifully organized with a horticultural arrangement. Florence planted native species in which interspersed with other exotic and tropical ones. She also had beautiful structures including this Victorian Folet (pictured on left). This garden was created in memory of all the times she gardened with her mother.

Dragon Tree

According to our tour guide of the garden, this Dragon Tree was imported from North Africa in what used to be a private British garden. Dragon trees are very common indoor plants but can also be outdoor. They have medium water needs, only need a lot of sunlight if left indoors, and can help purify the air as well as being super easy to grow. Sometimes the leaves can brown which hints that the air might be too dry, putting the plant next to other houseplants, in the bathroom or even with some pebbles and water can help.

Drunken Tree

This Drunken Tree was imported from Argentina and comes from other places in South America. This tree gets its name from its very visibly swollen trunk. It is swollen due to its natural ability to store water. Younger trees have thick and sharp horns covering the bark and hang from the branches. As summer approaches pink flowers bloom.

Coral Tree

This Coral Tree came from South America and is a part of the Legume family. Coral trees are outdoor plants and can range from 35 to 65 feet tall. They need very little water as too much can cause weakness and breakage. Overwatering can cause the tree to be too soft causing the tree to pull itself out of the soil come dry season. Pruning the tree in the spring can help prevent the limb loss. These trees are of great quality and can be sometimes used to make surfboards!

Silky Oak

These Silky Oaks were brought here from Australia. These trees can live up to 100 years old! It used to be native to Australia but now grows everywhere. It is very adaptable and can survive through both drought and frost. It is fast growing and a popular choice amongst gardeners because of its straight trunk; this helps avoid the spread of growth. Its shallow roots grow towards water so be careful not to plant close to buildings or pipes!

(All pictures taken by Alexandria DiPerri except the first one)

How The Aero Garden Made Gardening Possible

Do you ever want to start gardening, but feel like you don’t have the skills to keep up with one on your own? The aero garden is the perfect solution! Living closer to the city, having space for a garden has always been a challenge. Most of the yards in my neighborhood are shared among neighbors and usually tend to be very small. My mom and I always wanted to try and grow our own vegetables, but always struggled with finding the room and proper sunlight. After a few failed attempts, my mom came across the aero garden. 

These are the tomatoes we have started to grow!

The aero garden allows one to grow plants using aeroponic technology. The plants are grown without soil and it uses just the air and water to grow plants. The kit has a base that you can pour water and the nutrients into and it has lights so that the plants can grow indoors. This was a huge benefit because we could grow tomatoes all year round and we could start a little garden in our kitchen! If you get the seed kits that come with it, they can start to germinate within 24 hours. Not only can you start a garden whenever and wherever, but they even start to grow super fast. The aero garden is so convenient and made it possible for my mom and I to actually start a successful mini garden. The aerogarden makes a basically perfect environment for the plants by having their roots grow towards the air and the water in the basin. It gives the roots a lot of humidity and lets them grow quicker than they would in the ground. The device adjusts the water and nutrient levels and amount of light based on the plant, so it doesn’t take an expert to be able to grow what you want! It has been perfect for my mom and I because we aren’t at home a lot and have busy schedules and it has made it so easy for us to grow our tomatoes. Although expensive, I think the convenience and quality of the plants is beyond worth it. 

An up close picture of the tomatoes under the lights!
The plant food used to grow the plants!

By: Hannah Brennan

The Botanical Masterpiece

By Drew MacInnis

Throughout my life I have spent a lot of time in Boston, and this fall I was able to get an apartment in Cambridge. Although there are so many different places to go and things to do in the city, there is nothing more relaxing than going to the Boston Public Garden when the flowers are in bloom and the swan boats are in the water.

Boston Public Garden Timelapse - YouTube
Aerial view of the Boston Public Garden.

It is such an incredible sight and immediately calms me down and puts a smile on my face. Obviously the creation of the Public Garden did not happen overnight, so I did some research to see how it got to where it is now.

The Public Garden in the spring with the famous multicolor tulips in bloom.

Similar to many other aspects of Boston the Public Garden was way ahead of its time. It was created in 1839 and was the first botanical garden that was open to the public in the entire country. Between 1839 and 1856 the area was not owned by the city of Boston and was primarily worked on by a man named Horace Gray until he could no longer fund his plans. Once the city of Boston obtained the rights to the land, they held a design competition with the winner getting his vision created. A gentleman by the name of George Meacham won the competition at only twenty five years of age and in less than twenty years his plan was created, and is still primarily the layout of the Public Garden today.

Planting taking place in the early 1900’s.

The Public Garden is twenty four acres and with so much space to cover there is extensive planning that takes place. With Boston having very harsh winters, a lot of the raising and growing of the plants took place elsewhere. When the garden first started most of the plants were grown throughout Boston in various greenhouses. During that time there was also a lot of experimentation going on with what plants look the best and stay alive the longest. There would be new seeds shipped in from all over the world, with some making it to the garden and some not. The Public Garden is something that has evolved over time through the hard work of so many people and thanks to them I am able to escape the craziness of the city to a beautiful natural landscape filled with life.




2 Different Home Towns

By: Cameron Casella

It was a muggy summer morning in June of 2019 when I received a call from Father on my way into work. We talked as if it was a normal Wednesday. At the end of the conversation he told me him and my Mother were taking a day trip to Maine. I asked where and why they were going when he replied “it’s a secret”. After hanging up the phone I thought of every possible case on why they were making this day trip to Maine, to come to no conclusion. Throughout the work day I could not get this thought out of my head. When I returned home from work that day I sat down at the dinner table but something felt different something felt off. My parents seemed overly joyed and something was up. Over dinner my parents broke the news to me that they had just purchased 100 acres of land in Bridgton, Maine located just about 70 miles to the south east of the capital of Augusta. A small town with a population of 5,000 residents with just about 3 gas stations, 1 Grocery store and about 5 family owned and operated businesses.

Town Of Bridgton Welcome Sign

That night at the dinner table I asked my parents overwhelmed with happiness “why”? A simple question that was very bland but could be answered a thousand different ways. My parents had always discussed having land and cabin in the woods as it had been a dream of my Fathers for awhile. But to me 100 acres of land just seemed absurdly overwhelming . With a smirk on my Father’s face he replied with a simple analogy “a place to get away and re-charge the batteries”. It took me awhile to realize what this really meant. The point he was trying to make is that this land is a place for us as a family to escape to and grow. A place where we could just relax and have fun and make memories. A place where there is no hustle and bustle of a suburb town and a place where you can just reflect on your thoughts in the beautiful outdoor’s and the great scenery that Maine provides.

On Moose Pond in Bridgton, Maine. | Travel locations, Best family  vacations, Scenery
A View Of Shawnee Peak Ski Resort from the water of Moose Pond

On June 20th of 2019 I took my first trip up to the property with my parents to walk the land and see it all for my self for the first time. As we walked around I could see the happiness on both of my parents faces, especially my Father’s. It looks as if he was like a little kid on a playground for the first time. This was the big boy playground. He discussed plans for a cabin, barn, koi ponds, Dirt bike and ATV trails and so much more. You could tell he was really happy with his decision to buy the property. I asked him if he saw this as a long term investment as most people buy large chunks of land to sell for profit. I was surprised by his answer thinking that he would reply with a yes but it wasn’t. He said that he wanted this land to be in the “Casella” name for years to come. Him saying this sent chills down my spine as I began to imagine all the memories that were gonna be made on this land for years to come and the generations that will be using this place for years upon years all because of this purchase made by my parents. Fast forward two year after many long weeks, weekends and a lot of blood sweat and tears my parent’s and I have successfully logged 5 acres, Built a 3 bedroom 1.5 bath log home, Built a 2 car garage/ barn, (1) 45 gallon koi pond, and cut many different trails for hiking, dirt biking, Atving and all different kinds of entertainment. It is still a work in progress but the memories have started and I am still in awe of it all. I am greatly appreciative of this opportunity and am so lucky to call Bridgeton my second home for the rest of my life.