middle school

We’ve Broken Ground for Our School Garden

Actually, we broke all the weeds out of our garden and it’s looking good.  Thank you, Middle Schoolers!  They are the brawn of the group. 

(Brains, too!) And boy can they do some damage to some weeds.  This color-coordinated gal is weeding garden beds.  One glance at the photo and you know we’re not talking any small amount of weeds.  But after an hour of fun in the sun…

It was just about weed-free.  Amazing, isn’t it?  Truly, they did outstanding work.  Even harvested our summer crop of peanuts!  Then Lower Elementary came onto the scene and tilled a row and prepped it for seeds.  Remember, plants like soft beds (just like kids!), so we had to be sure it was tilled to a fluffy-fine perfection. 

Next they formed holes, plopped the seeds in and covered well.  Water in and we’re good to go! 

Up next was Upper Elementary and these boys and girls may give Middle Schoolers a run for their energy bars, because as you can see, they cleared our pole bean fence in no time flat. Previously home to our sunflowers, the pole beans will enjoy the space and deposit some much needed nitrogen into the dirt.  Cucumbers will make the fence their home come spring and they need their nutrients. 

As organic gardeners, we rotate our crops so you’ll never find the same veggie in the same spot come next season.

For their lessons this week, the Middle Schoolers received the “Organic Gardening Essentials” handout while Elementary students received “Starting from Seed” — LE = lower elementary and UE = upper elementary.  All lessons can be found in our Kid Buzz section, under Lessons in Organic Gardening.  Feel free to copy and share!

And follow along, won’t you?  It’ll be fun! 🙂

Spearhead YOUR School Garden!

Our school has started a garden (with a little help from willing parents and teachers).  How about starting one where you live?  If not school, maybe your local community center?  Gardens are easy when you have an assortment of hands involved.  Literally.  And it’s fun! 

The garden we decided on is a good size, about 20 feet by 30 feet.  We chose a nice sunny spot with a brief wave of shade in the afternoon — a good thing under the Central Florida sun.  People aren’t the only ones who benefit from a break in the heat!  First there was the big job of weed removal.  Our middle schoolers began the chore, breaking up a large part of the grassy area, followed by the little ones.

We decided on a variety of vegetables and herbs;  beans and peas, corn and broccoli, tomatoes and peppers to name a few, accompanied by some fragrant basil and rosemary and a solid staple of parsley!   Once the temperatures get a bit cooler, we’ll indulge in some broccoli and cabbage, potatoes come December.  

Actually, our upper elementary students will begin the broccoli and spinach indoors and watch them grow before making the transplant to the garden.  They’re studying leaves and roots and seedlings make for a fine project.

Of course when you have this many kids in nature at one time, you never know what exciting things you’ll discover.  “Look there!”

“What is it?”

Nobody knew, exactly.  I think there were a few bugs I saw for the first time, actually.  Leave it to the youth to teach you a thing or two about the wild!

Within days, our weeds were pulled and our rows outlined, using weed-preventer paper.  We do like to keep the maintenance manageable.   I learned THAT from my children! 

Awe, Mom.  Weeding again?  Why were weeds even invented?”

Can’t answer that one for you, except maybe oxygen?   They’re green, they must help the environment, right?  Either way, it’s amazing what a group of energetic kids can accomplish!

To keep things simple, we’ll use the current fence line for our pole beans and peas to climb at will.  We’ll also garden in “sections” and ease into a good crop rotation for the future.   We are organic, you know. 

As part of the process, we’ve designated an area nearby for a compost pile.  Now all those scraps from lunch and snack time won’t go to waste!  Well, technically they’ll still be waste, but now it will be “waste not want not” —  we’re making compost here,  not garbage!

And in the middle of it all, we have children learning the meaning of hard work (trust me, weeding and tilling is NOT for the weak), the camaraderie of working together, the basics of botany, the value of recycling, and the wonderous thing we call life as they watch plants sprout, grow, produce — amaze and delight!  Not to mention an excuse to get OUT of the classroom.  Does it get any better?

So  consider the same for you and your school and share the adventure of gardening!  Stay tuned as these kids explore and discover their own world of gardening.