Crickets and Kale: WB Garden Summer Update

by Diana Ramirez and Moses Viveros

Diana Ramirez harvesting greens, August 2017 (photo: M. Viveros)

Despite the slow start at the beginning of this year’s growing season, the 2017 Wabash Rooftop Summer Gardeners have been working hard to revitalize our outdoor plots to harvest fresh herbs and vegetables that will be used in the Dining Center! So far, we’ve grown a significant amount of kale and chive on the 5th floor rooftop gardens along with some basil and mustard greens. Our first summer harvest included 5 oz. of kale, 3.2 oz of mustard greens, 1 oz of collard greens, 4 oz of chive, and 1 oz each of oregano and basil. Not bad for a couple week’s worth of work!

Photo: D. Ramirez

In addition to our outdoor plants, we have been tending to a couple of baby seedlings in the SUST Lab in the AUD building. With a little more TLC, these plants will soon be enjoying life out on the rooftop along with their other green friends. In the SUST Lab we have oregano, cilantro, sage, more basil, and even more kale.

Earlier in the week we were able to directly sow different vegetable seeds into our outdoor plots in the hope that we can gather an abundant fall harvest. We planted a variety of durable plants that will withstand the change in climate going into fall. Some of these include broccoli, champion collards, basil and, you guessed it — more kale!

Moses Viveros sowing seeds in the rooftop garden, August 2017 (photo: D. Ramirez)

So far this summer, our 5th floor garden herbs and vegetables have encountered the company of a number of critters most of which have been completely harmless. However, others have gotten into the habit of snacking on some of our green friends. We’ve observed some slugs in a couple of plots in which we will experiment with some pest control methods to rid of these unwanted, yet shockingly cute (to some), little critters.

Photo: D. Ramirez

Although crickets may be known to help themselves to a nibble in one’s vegetable gardens, they’re not creating enough damage to be considered a problem for our case. In fact, they make the experience of urban rooftop gardening even more thrilling by popping up spontaneously here and there as we maneuver through the garden plots.

Photo: M. Viveros

In order to keep our rooftop gardens thriving, we need as much help as we can get! In addition to growing vegetables and herbs for the use of our campus’ Dining Center, we’re interested in taking the sustainability initiatives with our work in the rooftop gardens a step further. Beginning this summer we will be working to prepare selective plots for introducing native prairie plant species as well as some very important milkweed to attract some butterflies.

Stay tuned for our next post that will have some updates on how our garden is growing a little greener each day!

Diana Ramirez (BA ’17 SUST and SOC) and Moses Viveros (BA ’17 SUST) both graduated with honors from Roosevelt this past May. This summer they are working part-time as rooftop gardeners at Roosevelt’s downtown Chicago Campus.

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