Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beyond Our School Garden

~For Earth Day ~

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
~Native American Proverb

In the spirit of Earth Day, please take a some time to read this article, "Why Bother", and think about how you can start your very own Garden.

Monday, April 21, 2008

4th Grade Spring Planting

Check out the newest garden addition; a Culinary and Medicinal Herb Garden planted by our fourth graders:
Ready for some soil, water and hands for planting:

Out in the gardens bright and early this morning, our fourth grade kids...

Watering and diggin in the soil:
Tag teaming the sage plant...
By the end of the year they will be able to enjoy putting these herbs into yummy salads or on breads or pizzas. We might even get crazy and make some gorgeous smelling sachets.

Culinary Herbs: Basil, Bay Laurel, Curly Mint, Licorice Splash, Greek Oregano, Himalayan Silver Mint, Thyme Mint, Creeping Thyme, Lemon Frost Thyme, Hopi Red Amaranth, Royal Burgundy Pole Beans, Chamomille

Medicinal and Aromomatic Herbs: Andean Sage, Cleveland Sage, Germander Sage, Chamomille, Sarah Lavender, patchouli

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Three Sisters

Miss Karen's Second Grade just planted the beginnings of what we call "The Three Sisters Garden" What is that you ask ? The Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) are traditional plants that were used by various Native American Tribes throughout North America. They are a wonderful example of what is called "Companion Planting"

Corn, Beans and Squash have a very close friendship, in that they are companions, or "best friends" as the Second Graders learned. The Corn grows tall, the beans use the corn as a pole to grow up, at he same time the beans fix nitrogen into the soil, and then the squash with its large leaves and shallow root system, covers the ground below keeping out weeds and animals. We spent some time before planting, learning what it felt like to be each one of these plants and how they relate to each other. The class was separated into Corn, Beans, Squash and Weeds. A circle was created, then the corn kids took root in the ground, some pesky weeds entering and tried to take up all the space. The corn decided they were not very good friends with the weeds, so they asked the beans to come in and hug them, after that they invited the squash in to make sure to cover the ground. We asked the weeds to come back in to see how much space they could take...they were clever weeds, they still found a place to lay, but they were definitely limited. Now we will water, weed and wait for our Three Sisters to grow !

This is really a fascinating subject to teach children in the Garden. Not only is it fun to plant, and learn about the plants, but there is an abundance of folklore, stories and history surrounding the Three Sisters Gardening. Below is a legend that came from the Iroquois"s about the Three Sisters

The Iroquois Legend of the Three Sisters

It was said that the earth began when Sky Woman who lived in the upper world peered through a hole in the sky and fell through to an endless sea. The animals saw her coming, so they took the soil from the bottom of the sea and spread it onto the back of a giant turtle to provide a safe place for her to land. This Turtle Island is now what we call North America.

Sky woman had become pregnant before she fell. When she landed, she gave birth to a daughter. When the daughter grew into a young woman, she also became pregnant (by the West wind). She died while giving birth to twin boys. Sky Woman buried her daughter in the new earth. From her grave grew three sacred plants, corn, beans, and squash. These plants provided food for her sons, and later, for all of humanity. These special gifts ensured the survival of the Iroquois people.

For more detailed information about how to start your own Three Sisters Garden click here.

Daisy Chains

Today during the Multi-Age Class "Specials", where the children get to choose from a variety of different activities such as photography, yoga, painting, music making and gardening, the kids that chose gardening had even more choices. They could either cut sweet peas, do some planting or learn how to make daisy chains.

Many chose to make daisy chains...and with more than just daisies. We used poppies, cauliflower, nasturtiums, flowering broccoli and ranunculus as well as mexican sunflowers and sweet peas. It was great fun and everyone seemed very focused and involved. All of this experienced to the music made by kids participating in the music special. It felt much like an impromptu spring festival!
Afterward, many decided to decorate the garden fence with their creations while others took theirs home to mom.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Second Grade Gardening

Miss Karen's Second Grade Class has been spending Thursday Mornings in the K-2 Garden. They have been busy planting, tomato's, bell peppers, and sunflower seeds. This week, we harvested the Onion, Garlic and Radish bed, and prepared it for new planting, with a rich blend of compost, chicken manure, worm castings and fish emulsion. Here is a short video of them doing the serious work of mixing !!

Next week we will learn about and plant what the Native American's called "The Three Sisters", Corn, Beans and Squash....

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

An Orange Tree is Planted!

Merrill's 3rd Grade Class planted a semi-dwarf orange tree on Monday morning...the second tree to grace our orchard, after the Meyer Lemon.

It is now quite small and has a long way to go but with the right amount of TLC and some 8-year-old wish-whisperings into its leaves, it should grow into a lovely, fruit-heavy tree.

In a few years we could have lemon and orange-ade days at school!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hard Work Pays Off!

We hope more families get involved in our gardens and in our school beautification and clean-up projects. It won't be long until our school looks like a visual representation of all we stand for: creativity, love of learning, respect for eachother and our environment, appreciation of nature and art, the importance of activism and involvement. All of this realized in a cooperative way is really what we are all about!

It was a small group today, but we accomplished almost everything on our list...everyone worked really hard.

The succulent garden looks great... a new table was built and really beautiful art was hung to cover some chainlink.
This garden still needs some cube shelving and some seating but we are well on our way to having an outdoor student lounge of sorts.

Work was done in the 3-8th grade garden also!
Art was hung over the raised beds to beautify... and we were given a good amount of composted horse manure to add to the beds...this will really make for a productive spring garden.
Many of the old dying veggies were taken out and the beds are ready for planting!

Gourds were hung throughout the school, painted by Miss Bell's Art Classes!

"Aviary Alley" was idea from C.J. Hawk... to make the breezeway a welcoming place for birds and butterflies. This bed was turned and a few california natives were planted in addition to some of the ones already there. This area is mulched with cocoa hulls...take a handfull and smell the chocolate!

Bamboo fencing, double strength,was attatched to our existing fencing in the k-2 bed to keep out the exhaust from Genessee and to make our garden a bit cozier. This was a huge job and was done by two very hard working folks... thankyou!
This garden was also fertilized and mulched ... there is more to be done but we got a great start thanks to some really hard work in the digging and weeding department!

More photos from the Great Garden Work Day!

Well, Annie beat me to the punch with posting photos, but I've got mine up on Flickr now. You can view them there, just scroll through them here:

Click on any photo to view it larger.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Welcome Luna!

Dmitry, our beloved 3rd grade teacher, and his wife Cindy
have a new baby girl,
Luna Charlotte.
Born April 2, 2008

Here is a 'blue moon flower' from the garden folks.

Sending out lots of good energy !