students

Planting Peanuts

These delightful little nuts are a joy to grow.  Not only do they mature through the summer season, they take their time doing so–while YOU go on vacation!  Yep, plant these puppies in April/May and check back in July/August to reap your bounty!

peanut roots

Okay, just kidding.  You don’t want to leave anything alone that long–except maybe your bathroom scale–because who knows what could pay your garden a visit in the meantime?  Not that peanuts are prone to insects or disease, they aren’t really.  Pretty tolerant from what I can see and living with me–plants need to be tough.  I vacation!  I write!  I have other things to do!  (Don’t we all?)

That said, optimum practice is to “visit” your garden on a daily basis.  Not “work” or “weed” or “water” but simply visit.  Say it with me:  “Ah…it’s so lovely out here among the beds of lush green fruits and veggies.”  More

Now That Vacation Has Settled…

The students hit the garden running–literally. :)  It’s understandable.  Gardening is exciting!  I mean, have you ever seen what a real “bunch” of broccoli looks like on the plant?

bunch of broccoli

It’s cool.  Fascinating, really.  Mind you most of these kids have never seen broccoli still attached to the stalk.  No trip to the grocery store, no plastic wrap, and you can eat it?  You bet.  But eat it before it goes to flower.

bees are swarming the broccoli

By then, the bees are swarming and the plant is throwing its energy into creating seed pods. More

Progress Report

The kids have been diligently tending their garden, learning about the cold, learning the ways of crop rotation.  Rotating crops helps to improve soil structure, increases a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and aids in pest control.  As we prepare to harvest and begin the new season, organic gardeners need to know what they grow, know what grows where, when and why.  Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?

But we make crop rotation easy at BloominThyme and sing our way through the garden ~ beans – leaves – roots and fruits!  Beans – leaves – roots and fruits! More

Where Have the Students Been?

You mean between field trips to the butterfly gardens and fossil museum?  Christmas break and Martin Luther King Day?  Well, they’ve been in the garden, that’s where, expanding and tilling and generally having a grand old time!

You see, we have learned a valuable lesson.  Plants need sunlight to grow and they need a good dose of it–especially during the winter months.  During spring and summer, our Florida kids enjoy an early afternoon break in the shade, but right now?  Not so much. More

What Shape is YOUR Garden In?

Good shape, poor shape, the kids have discovered all kinds of shapes in their garden this week, especially when it comes to leaves.  They’re long, short, ragged, smooth, small, wide, narrow…  Well, you get the idea.  Brussels sprouts tend toward the round side.

Oval with a point as in oregano.  Pepper plants share this shape (but it’s too cold for those at the moment). More

Friends Planting Friends in the Garden

This week the kids learned the concept of companion planting.  Simply put, grouping plants together by how they can help each other is one of the secrets to organic gardening.  (So is worm poop, but we’ll get to that later.)  Squash bugs LOVE squash plants but they HATE radish.  So how about we plant radish next to our squash?

Our radish help our squash by preventing an attack of squash bugs!  How great a friend is that? More

Going Back to School

Kids head back to school next week which means I as garden coordinator head back with them.  While we didn’t spend a lot of time in the garden over the summer (peanuts are fairly low-maintenance), we have BIG plans for the year ahead, beginning with our pumpkin patch.  As you may recall, last year our pumpkins hit a rough patch of fungus and did not produce the orange beauties we were expecting.  Why not?

Well, we could chalk it up to ambitious gardeners, seed crowding, Florida humidity, the normal stuff–but this year we’re doing things a bit differently.  We have moved locations, giving the pumpkins ample space to stretch out and spread their vines.  We also plan to put mulch beneath them to ward off grass growth.  Kinda hard to cut the lawn around the pumpkins and vines which caused some of the problems.  But no worries.  We will master the art of pumpkin growth this year!  We’ll also harvest our peanuts and generally prepare the garden for our fall crop. 

As to our lessons, we will coordinate garden and classroom for a seamless and common sense approach to education.  Translated:  what they’re learning in class will correspond to what they’re learning in the garden.  Easy enough when it comes to botany and chemistry.  It’s life science in middle school that will prove a bit more, “challenging” shall we say?  Oh yes, we’ll be talking reproduction in the garden, 101. :)

If anyone has any suggestions for curriculum or craft ideas, I’m all ears!  On the current agenda we have:   art in the garden to express their creative side, journaling to practice their power of observation and writing skills, science projects with our attempt at building a solar oven, measuring and graphing for a slice of math among the beds, the power of self-sustainability beginning from seed to harvest, then learning to save their seeds for next season, and of course cooking.  We eat what we grow which makes everything taste better.  For added fun, we’re incorporating Spanish into our garden, with bilingual plant signs to vocabulary lists.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  Oh–and don’t forget the field trip to the worm fun.  Talk about a good time, worms are it.

So follow along with us as we share our garden lessons and crafts and by all means–share some of yours.  We’ll consider it a coop garden of sorts, albeit virtual in nature.

Last Day of School

Today is our last day of school and while there’s not a frown in sight, they are sad to say goodbye to their garden.  And who wouldn’t be? Gardening is BIG fun–especially during school hours!

“You mean we get to go outside again?”

“Yes pumpkin, you do.”

Speaking of pumpkins, our summer “crop” of students will do the honors this year and plant our pumpkin patch. Waiting until August is simply too late. Too late if you want pumpkins to carve for Halloween, that is. Or how about a pumpkin stand? Our seed sale fundraiser last week was a rip-roaring success. We raised an amazing $285.00 for our garden!  Isn’t that awesome? Now each student will have a tool to work with in the garden (no more sharing between friends) and we’ll ALL have gloves that fit.  For bonus points, we’ll throw in some magnifying glasses to use for leaf study, bug discovery, infection inspection–it’ll be super!

But before we go, how about one last check on our tomatoes (we’ll pull these out over summer and replace them with peanuts). 

Our first batch of which have already begun to sprout.

 

All over the place!

 

Gorgeous.  Simply gorgeous.  Come fall, we may host another seed sale, or send some home to parents as thank yous!  My summer plan is to create a full-fledged garden curriculum for the students, one that will coincide with the botany and science lessons they’re learning in class. With a seamless approach to their education, hopefully the students will be the big winners.

So if you’d like to incorporate gardening into your child’s education, sign up for new blog post notifications and you won’t miss a minute of the fun.  All lessons will be free for he taking!

Talking “Crazy” Trends

When I saw the picture of this truck bed with a garden literally planted in its bed, I thought:  “Now that’s just plum crazy!”  Who the heck gardens out of a truck?

Who the heck eats their hedge?  Maybe I’m the crazy one.  Well, at least in suburbia I am.  But these two fellas, Nick & Justin, just may have found the magic to self-sustaining living—road trip style.  They call it Compass Greenand their mission is to “teach practical farming tools and raise awareness on sustainability through presentations, workshops, and greenhouse tours at schools, camps, organizations and communities with a curriculum focused on Bio-intensive methods of sustainable farming—producing the maximum yields with the minimum amount of resources.”

They hope to inspire people across the country to be creative and utilize any and all space they can to grow food.  So far, I think it’s working.  Take a look at these school kids from a charter school in Queens, NY.

Seems to me they’re a bit taken with the idea of garden greens in the bed of a truck.  As they should be.  I don’t care where you’re from, this is unique.  In a totally fun and very cool way.

Why, if I could, I’d put a garden in the back of a semi truck and travel around the country, too.  Just think of it!  I’d map out my course based on visiting cities and countryside at their seasonal best, like Vermont in October, Florida in December, the Deep South in the spring…  It would be glorious, free-spirit living at its best!  Why I’m getting tingles just thinking about it. :)

Until I saw this.  Seriously? Are you kidding me? Uh-uh, no way in heckamundo am I sleeping there.  Not for any length of time, I’m not.  Plan B!

But it is really great that these two fellas are doing so, isn’t it?  I mean I touch one school and one group of kids.  These guys touch hundreds!  Kudos.  Peace, brother.  More power to you.  And if it’s really a trend that’s catching like Ian Cheney seems to suggest…

 
Well then I’m all for it.  Video (and more like it!) created by Ian Cheney and his film series:  Truck Farm.

Our Submission is IN!

The students entered their garden into Florida’s School Garden Competition this year and our fingers are crossed.  While the due date for entry photos is well before most of our plants have blossomed, we’re still hopeful they will shine in all their “petite” glory.  Wish us luck!

In the meantime, we’ll do what we always do and that is to diligently work our garden and observe visiting wildlife (which is plenty).  One eagle-eyed student spotted this little gem climbing the leaves of a nearby weed.

Well, he was supposed to be weeding, only we prefer his efforts to be secluded to the garden beds! Cute little guy, isn’t he?  However, better than snails and slugs, one keen young girl laid claim to her own bit of treasure:

Not sure how these coins ended up in the garden, but “finders keepers!”  But the REAL excitement was discovering our carrots are ready.

Did you hear?  Our carrots are ready!  Our carrots are ready!  And you know what that means…carrot cake for everyone!  It’s a party now. :)

Though I think we’ll add a healthy carrot side to our cake and eat it, too.  And remember the fabulous cole slaw we made last time?  Another cabbage beauty is almost ready!

Isn’t she gorgeous?  And so is her friend, the Brussels sprout.  Yet this gal is proving to be a mystery.  While we have lovely green leaves, we have no sprouts blooming along the stalk.  Why not?

You got me on that one.  I have no idea—though I aim to find out!  The kids and I will get to the bottom of this and next year?  We’ll have a bounty of lovely leaves and plump sprouts, you watch.  Until then, take a look at our progress…

Fully planted now, our job is to weed and feed (and of course, harvest and eat!).