Inspectors in the Garden

Well, you knew it would happen.  Yes, our plants have come under attack.  By what, you ask?

Not sure.  But these kids are on the hunt.  Folded within the leaves of the beans are bugs, the kind with numerous legs and countless more eggs.  As you can see, once fully grown, these little fellas can do some damage!

But fear not.  The kindergarteners are on it and with a little help from Upper Elementary (and their “dispatch” power), we’ll be rid of these beasts in no time.  On a sweeter note, our herb garden is coming along quite nicely.  And when it comes to herbs, our “senses” play a huge role–which includes our tastebuds.

Hm.  “This leaf is sweet!”

One boy piped up, “No–it’s spicy!”

I turned and frowned.  “Spicy?  How do figure?”

He laughed and held it before him.  “It isn’t?”

I shook my head.  No, it isn’t.  Stevia is sweet.  It’s an herb found in Truvia, a product sold at the local supermarket as an alternative to sugar.  It’s all natural and zero calories, but why buy Truvia when you can grow your own stevia?  Effect is the same.  Simply ground it up and add to any beverage, or blend it in with your favorite smoothie. Yum.

I quickly reminded the kids that we never bite into leaves unless we know for sure they aren’t poisonous.  For example, chomping a leaf from the potato plant could serve up a hospital visit.  Part of the solanaceae family, the leaves are quite toxic for consumption.  Other members of this plant family include tomatoes, eggplant, tobacco and sweet peppers, just to name a few.  So parents, rest assured, the kids had permission for this one.

While we’re on the subject of indulging our senses, the rosemary plant is a favorite in the garden.  Said to be a natural stimulant, one whiff of this plant and your energy will soar.  Your focus, too.  Have a test scheduled?  Head on out to the garden and take a step on the “sniffing” stone!

To the left you’ll see our newly transplanted sage, to the right our parsley and stevia (we pruned the stevia plant so it may be hard to see) and way in the back along the fence is spearmint .  Great ant repellent, that mint.  Which brings us to our lesson this week:  companion planting.  Not only do the squash and radish we planted last week count for companion planting, but so does spearmint as ant repellent.  It’s a friend to the entire garden!

So for those of you who missed it, lessons this week were as follows:  Middle School: Companion Planting 101, Upper and Lower Elementary: Companion planting_UE and Companion planting_LE

BIG fun ~ quiz next week! 🙂