Total Pageviews

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!