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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Under construction----

Like all good gardens, this one has been undergoing some changes with the seasons. 

New posts and fun things with kids in the garden coming your way soon!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Have you visited the garden lately?

Can you believe it's already April? Where has this year gone so far? We missed February early planting of peas. St. Patrick's Day and potatoes. But we are so ready to get out there and plant some seeds and starts! So are the plants that survive the winter. Despite our apparent neglect, plants know what to do and they get started on their hard Spring work. See what's happening...
Here's the garlic the first grader's planted in the Fall. You can ask a first grader about the garlic, and they will show you which one is "their's." 

This is some kale that overwintered. Kale is one of the most hardy and amazing vegetables out there. It never ceases to amaze. And here's a new thing to try--kale rapini. That's the little flower stalks at the top. It's like broccolini if you've ever had that. Delicious sauteed with olive oil, salt and garlic. Yum!

Oh mint, what will we do with you?

Another traditional crop of Oregon, the hop. As you can see, it is ready to climb. Last year, it wove itself in between the fence slats. I think this year we should give it a nice ladder.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What's been happening in the garden?

Well, that would be a really great question! Or a better question might be what has happened to our garden blog?? It really is amazing that McKinley has such a great garden and it's because we have really great volunteers. This is the 4th or 5th year of the garden and most of our volunteers have kids that will be leaving McKinley soon. So now is the time to get in on the outdoor fun! 

And it's not just outdoor fun. There has been a lot of cooking going on for our monthly tasting tables. Kids got to try squash in October and cranberries in January. Some kids in the after-school SKEF program have been really big helpers prepping things for the rest of the school to sample. Here's a little of their handy work:
Separating squash seeds from the stringy goop is messy work.
First things first, always wash your veggies.  These squash came from Minto Island Growers.

As you can see, we had delicata squash, which you don't have to peel, and butternut squash, which you do have to peel.

This squash is ready to be roasted!

Guess what's next to taste in February? 
A lovely, vibrant red vegetable for Valentine's Day. Yes, the next tasting table will be Friday, February 14th. So come have lunch with your child and try one of the prettiest root vegetable around!

The tasting tables will be the 2nd Friday of every month. We feature an Oregon product, grown as close to home as possible. To learn more about these products, check out the  Oregon Harvest for Schools. (just scroll down to see the cool posters)

Monday, September 2, 2013

How does the garden grow over the summer?

You know, summer vacation is really great for checking out of your regular routines and doing things a little differently. Like not looking at this blog all summer long. Apologies for you few that read the posts on a regular basis. I know who you are. But seriously, this has been a hot, dry summer and things have really taken off so here's a little recap of what's been growing. 
Here are a few grapes from early in the summer. Usually you would harvest them in early fall, but when I was at the garden today, they were all gone. I'm hoping someone had a yummy snack.

Ahh...the fruits of our labor. Everything here is edible and would make a really tasty salad--kale (1st graders planted), nasturtiums (they come back every year), and a variety of tomatoes. Look at all the different colors! 
 Pumpkins. Lots of little pumpkins is what we have growing in our pumpkin patch. And I mean a lot! Mrs. Nelson's class planted these and the 5th graders will use them in a botany lab this Fall. 
This picture was taken in July.
 Look at all the green leaves!
This was taken a few days ago. Those leaves are calling it quits and sending all the good nutrients to the pumpkins.

You know what else grows really well? Weeds. Thistles. Really pokey, prickly weeds that are a bear to pull out. You need some serious gloves when you let them go this long.

On a brighter, much sunnier note, sunflowers.
What a perfect way to welcome kids back to McKinley for another great year.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First-graders in the Garden

I had a delightful day with Mrs. Lioy's and Mrs. Leduc-Gibson's 1st graders recently, planting, some radishes and carrots in their garden beds. We had such success with using seed paper with the 5th graders, I decided to do the same with the younger kids. Carrot seeds are tiny! They are so tiny that it's near impossible to have the manual dexterity to space them appropriately. But we tried. 

In partners, they painted some dots on a paper towel, using "home-made" glue made out of flour and water. Then they placed the seeds on the dots.

We got some assistance from some helpful 5th graders.

Before we put the seed paper down, we had to get the garden bed ready. We broke up the clumps of dirt, added some compost and smoothed it all down to make a nice little bed for some baby radishes.

And here they are!!
Baby radishes, just 7 days old!

So, can you tell what this is below? If you look very carefully, there are about a million ants with some little white looking things. Some of you are thinking, oh, disgusting. That's kind of what I was thinking. But not the boys on recess.

"Hey, look, there's a bunch of ants and little white things."
"Those are maggots."
"No, those are larva, not maggots."
"Let's move them."
"No, let's get a spider and let the spider eat them."

I have to say I was impressed by this exchange, at the very least for their creative problem solving. So they searched around and within 2 minutes came back with a spider, which they dropped on the ants.
Did it start to eat them? No, it scurried away. So we scooped out most of the ants and larva with a big shovel and moved them. They needed a new home anyway.

What's the spider doing? Is he eating the ants?
On a different note, a harvest kind of note, we also dug up some plants. A root crop. Starts with a P and ends with a P. These were the hints I gave the 5th graders and I got a bunch of blank stares and more guesses of carrot and ginger. These are parsnips. PARSNIPS! Which, according to the seed package, are difficult to grow because of a low germination rate. And we harvested about 10 decent, edible-looking parsnips. Below you can see what they look like above the ground. A lot of greenery. One really cool thing we noticed is that the leaves smell really sweet, like a roasted parsnip. Kind of like coconut. Amazing, huh? Just look at all the things you can learn in the garden! 

These are the parsnips about 2 weeks ago.
Amazing what a little warm weather can do for growing plants.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

McKinley Garden Club

In case you hadn't heard, we have a garden club at McKinley. We meet after school on Mondays and do some garden clean up, projects and have fun in the dirt. Last Monday was our first meeting and we found LOTS of worms. Do you know what that means? We've got some good tasting dirt! 

So one of our first projects was to get the pumpkin patch ready for the kindergardeners. Right now, it's a weedy mess. So we are experimenting with "solarizing." As you can see below, we put down a big sheet of plastic and are trying to cook those nasty weeds so we can make room for The Three Sisters--pumpkins, beans and squash. Stay tuned to see how this experiment goes!
These boys are flattening out the weeds. There was a lot of stomping, coordination, and cooperative board-rolling. 

Now for the plastic! UP it goes, and then down.

We also had some really serious gardeners tackling the weeds in some of the beds. They learned the difference between a tiny little cosmos flower and wild carrot--which is a very frilly, fuzzy weed. This bed will be ready for the 2nd graders to plant soon.

Great green garlic growing

Remember the last post in January? I know, that was a while ago...
Boy, garlic and bears aren't the only ones that have been hibernating! The garlic was just starting to pop it's pointy sprouts out. Well look at the progress:
The one above is from early March. The one below is from Tax Day, last Monday. That looks like some happy garlic.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Grow little plants, grow

Boy, has it been cold! Not that I'm complaining...a break from the rain is awfully nice. But what's growing in a garden when it's barely above freezing during the day and well below freezing at night? Well, since you asked, I'll show you.
Yes, those little green shoots are garlic. Our sleepy, cozy, little garlic cloves that Mrs. Lioy's class planted back in October. That blanket of straw must be working pretty well for them to pop out and see what the weather is like. They will be so happy when it starts to get a little warmer. 

What else grows in the garden in the dead of winter? Well there's always parsley, and there's a lot of it out there. So if you are craving some chimichurri sauce or a nice tabbouleh (both of which make me think of sunny summer), snip off some parsley and take it home. 

And there's more...Second-graders planted some cover crops this Fall which we will dig under in the Spring to make the soil healthy and happy and homey for earthworms and such. I think this is vetch. If you look closely, it looks a little cold and frosty, but it's hanging on. Just a little longer my friends and it will get above 40 degrees!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012's magic

I don't know how many of you compost. If you do, then you know how amazing it is to start with food scraps, and garden debris and moldy leaves--the perfect mix of "green" and "brown"--and after some high temperatures and good active bacteria and fungi, you have something called compost. Which looks a lot like really dark brown dirt.
   Last year, thanks to SKEF and Learning Gardens, we got a nifty 3-bin compost system. The way it works is you layer brown and green garden debris, in one bin, and as it "cooks" down and looks more like dirt, you shift it to the 2nd bin. You keep adding new food to the 1st bin, shifting to the 2nd bin, and then to the 3rd, and so on. Now, this is kind of the cliff-notes version of compost. I, am not a master composter. But I have met one. Yes, they exist just like master gardeners and master preservers. I really don't know much about composting other than what I just told you. So I'm learning a lot, just like our students.
   This is the first year that all cafeteria waste at McKinley is being composted by our local refuse hauler, Allied Waste. You should see the amount of "garbage"that is generated by a school of 300 students. It's actually not much at all when you can recycle and compost nearly everything you use. It's amazing, actually. Gosh, that sounds like a Math and Science investigation waiting to happen!
A few weeks ago several brave souls worked in the garden to get things tidied up for the winter. One of the things we did was move our compost system. I call it a system, but really that's just for lack of a better word. Suggestions? Anyway, here are some pictures from our work day, where you can see compost in action.
Here's the compost bins with some pretty green stuff piled in. But notice the brown stuff on the bottom...

Time to take a look at what's on the bottom of these bins.

Whoa. Compost. Well...more like moldy dead plants from the garden. But it could be compost! eventually...

What's sleeping under that straw?

Straw is a great mulch. Well, it's not the best, but it is a pretty warm blanket for sleeping seeds and future plants. The first graders had a chance to learn about garlic this month. They took a close-up look at a head of garlic, and split it into individual cloves. If you were going to plant a clove of garlic, which end do you think should go down and which end should go up? These 1st graders are pretty plant-saavy already! They could use their skills of observation and see that those little stringy things on one end looked a lot like roots. That end goes down. Right!
    So room 5 came outside and planted some garlic. It takes a long time for garlic to grow. Did you know that? Like, 6-8 months! And we are lucky because we got some early-maturing garlic that should be ready before school is out. This is going to be great! We can learn about all the different parts of the garlic plant and other alliums (that's the fancy name of the family garlic belongs to along with onions). 
       Ever heard of garlic scapes or garlic whistles? Well you will be seeing some of those come Spring and the 1st-graders will get to taste them. Be ready for some stinky garlic-breath!

This, is our garlic. Sleeping peacefully and snug under it's blanket of straw.