watercolor by Marja van Mierlo

Explore this page for gardening tips and tricks, essays, gardening demos, and pictures shared by SGS participants.

Rachel’s Growing Garden

What’s Growing in Rachel’s Garden?

Rachel began her own home garden 6 years ago, when she dove into her passion for plants, the great outdoors, and farm to table cooking. Through trial and error, she has learned a lot and experimented with a large variety of different crops (both fruits and vegetables). By seeing what grows best in the suburban New York climate to what rodents prefer, Rachel’s garden expertise has come a long way.

“I could talk all day about what I’ve learned but would love to share my greatest tips with everyone” – Rachel.

Rachel’s Lessons:

  • Strawberry plants will take over the entire garden (not only their bed). They are very strong runners and quickly build an army of themselves. They are also a popular rodent treat: the chipmunks and squirrels love fruit! If growing strawberries, isolate them in a separate container and cover with netting.
  • She planted a grape vine 5 years ago. Like most fruit plants, it took a few years to strengthen and be productive. The vine comes back each year (if you see the vine in the winter, you would never think it was alive). Grapes, like strawberries, will also use any territory it can to spread. Trimming the plant may be necessary for size control. Also, Japanese Beetles, a garden pest, love to eat grape leaves. There is a people and pet safe spray that she uses called Dr. Earth- Final Stop: Vegetable Garden Insect Killer. Rachel hates pesticides, but she uses this spray in small amounts and only bought it to save her plant (otherwise the Beetle will harm your plant).
  • Rachel prefers planting seeds because she finds that replanting weakens roots. However, certain plants (like tomatoes) grow best when started inside. They are resilient enough to survive the transplant. If growing lettuce, squash/zucchini, beans, or other hardy vegetables, plant seeds directly in ground after danger of frost.

Rachel’s Grape Vine (5 Years Old)

What Does Rachel Grow Best?

  • Beans! Every year she buys bean seeds and plants them directly into the ground. Bean plants sprout fast and will produce a generous amount. Rachel’s beans don’t get full sun and they thrive. If you have a patch of soil in your garden that only gets some sun, try growing beans!

Rachel’s Recent Troubleshoot and Gardening Question:

  • Last summer, Rachel planted squash seeds. The plants grew beautifully and had tons of flowers. However, few squash were produced. From research, she determined that the plants must not have been fertilized. 
  • This year, Rachel tried growing zucchini. The plants are very similar to the squash and did the exact same thing: produced many flowers and little crop. It’s unfortunate that beautiful plants aren’t having much success.
  • She would like to know: 
    • Do your squash and/or zucchini plants also have this problem?
    • Where do you buy squash/zucchini seeds that are successful? Is there a way to ensure that the seeds or plants are fertilized?


  • Rachel would love to talk to you about gardening and compare notes. Feel free to email her: Rachel.laemle@uconn.edu

Rachel’s Zucchini Plants (Summer 2021)

Hugh’s experiments

Hugh is a young gardener who’s all about taking chances, experimenting, and defying the growing odds! In his Pennsylvania home garden, he’s decided to throw seeds in neglected places around his property to see if any vegetables will grow. He’s already had some surprising results. We look forward to following his projects throughout the summer.