Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dig, Plant, Grow

Free Download: Dig Plant Grow Curriculum
Dig, Plant, Grow- a guide to planning your own garden curriculum written by teachers Meredith Hill and Sarah Ohana. Here's a link to their perfect little booklet that addresses many ways to bring the garden into the curriculum and the curriculum into the garden. It is scientific, doesn't "talk down' to anyone, and will enrich your understanding of the processes needed to make your gardens grow and flourish. 
Download free, enjoy, share. Perfect timing for summer reading and inspiration.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to Build a Potato Tower

What fun!  Here's a look at the potato towers at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center.
Constructed by Will Kies, Director of Education and Heckscher Farm, they are already leafing out. Will did 4 nests per tower.
See link below for specific directions:

And the most fun part - harvesting!  Kick the tower and out roll lots of potatoes. No blemishes from digging tools. Just beautiful, perfect potatoes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

4th Annual Lettuce Challenge

The Stamford Garden Club sponsored the 4th Annual lettuce Challenge for the GIVE schools in Stamford. Tiny buttercrunch lettuce plugs were distributed to 16 schools and over 700 students on April 1st. Six weeks later, on May 12th,  the 3 best entries from each class or club (over 100)  were picked up by the Stamford Garden Club, delivered to the Government Center, and were judged. The best plants in each group were awarded a blue ribbon. The Best in Show went to an entry from Dolan Middle School: perfectly formed, rosette shape, dense center, and dark green in color. It had been grown "au naturel". The student planted the tiny plug in the designated pot with the potting soil provided. He placed the pot into his garden bed, surrounded by soil to keep it warm, watered occasionally, and, as he said, "I just let it grow." 
Some entries were grown under gro-lights, some in windowsills, some in mini-greenhouses made from milk jugs. But, "best in show" was done in the most natural and simple way.
tiny  lettuce plugs being planted on April 1st
growing in the pot in the garden bed

growing in the milk-jug green house

Best in Show

overview of one of the tables
Next step: back into the garden beds to be allowed to grow full size. Soon to be a salad!

Enjoy the link to a video from the recognition day, May 14th.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Micro-Greens: How to grow

grow your own microgreens: harvest the sprouts 7 to 14 days after germination

How exciting to find a perfect activity to get the gardening juices going/growing. Thanks to Organic Gardening Magazine for a step-by-step lesson on growing micro-greens - photos plus text.
Pull out those leftover seeds from last year: lettuces, chards, beets, kales, cabbage, broccoli... You get the idea. 
Start your micro-greens as per drections. When  ready to harvest, use a pair of scissors and a sheet of sturdy paper. Snip and drop the greens onto the paper. otherwise you'll be scratching in the soil to pick up the greens. Crunch. YUM!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

We Can All Be Eating Well

I'm off on a tangent.   Having seen the documentary, A Place at the Table, I'm having lots of troubled thoughts about the state of nutrition in the USA, especially the terrible eating habits of so many children.
Many of our people live in rural or suburban areas.
Many enjoy the presence of pets.
The pets get fed.
Many have some space that could be dedicated to a small or even a large vegetable garden. This is even possible in urban areas.
I believe we need to reintroduce the concept of home gardening, of raising pets for food (chickens for eggs and eventually for meat, rabbits for meat... )
This has become "trendy" for wealthy suburban families. This used to be normal for almost everyone when we were an agricultural society.
Is it not time to help us become a bit more self-sufficient by learning how to plant some vegetables, some fruit trees or bushes, to raise small livestock, to harvest what we have sown and what we raise?

I think about the small "vegetable garden in every school" project we started in Stamford,CT in 2010. This is a small step toward educating our children about the methods of raising vegetables, how food is grown, what it takes from seed to harvest, and how to cook with the vegetables we grow. These baby steps lead to awareness, self-sufficiency, and a great deal of pride in the accomplishment of producing a tangible food with one's own hands and work.

I think about organizations like Heifer,Int'l which provide a goat or a cow or a dozen chickens, etc to a family in a Third World country in order to improve their lives. This is what we need in the USA. We need to grab the older folks who had Victory gardens during WWII and have them teach their grandchildren before they pass on. We need to resurrect our attachment to the earth, to the microbes, the insects, the birds and bees that make our growth cycles possible. We need to protect these same species from the pesticides and herbicides that are killing them and destroying our soil and invading our food and bodies. We need to touch the earth and let it feed us again in small spaces. The mega-agricultural factories have divorced us from our food source and impoverished our health and our land.
How uplifting to produce some home-grown vegetables, how satisfying to eat what we produce without harmful chemicals, how healthy a lifestyle we could be promoting.

How do we get this message out? Let's get growing!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Winter is for the birds...

I love the gentle quiet that winter provides. It's time to take a look back at what worked well, what needs tweaking, what we can hope to do next spring. And a time to be grateful for the space winter opens up in our minds and hearts.
So, the birds....
Our school garden club made some simple pine-cone feeders with peanut butter and bird seed.
pine cones, string or yarn, peanut butter, tongue depressors, bird seed, newspaper, patience
                                              Spread newspaper on table (We forgot this.).

 Tie string to pinecones.                                          
        Smear peanut-butter on cones.
Dredge cones in bird seed.
Hang cones from tree.
                                                 Watch the birds discover the feast.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time to Evaluate the Garden

Summer is fast closing down but the garden is still producing and with some careful planning, it will continue to do so into late November.... and maybe longer.
What to do:
Remove all dead plant matter and add to the compost pile/bin.
Remove any diseased plant matter and put in trash.
Loosen up exposed soil and get it ready for the seeds you can now sow.
Prepare a section for lettuces, another for beets, for chards, for choys, for beans, for peas.
Keep in mind that some herbs, like parsley and cilantro,will be very happy to get started now. And perennial herbs can be divided and shared with friends.
Read the planting instructions on the seed packets.
Follow the directions. 
Keep the tender seedlings watered. Water the soil surface, don't pour from on high.
Cover with a "row cover" if temperatures drop.
Try a few seeds in planters
Move some tender herbs into planters that can eventually be brought inside
Keep having fun.
green bean seedlings planted about 3 weeks ago at school garden

mixed lettuce seeds sprinkled in planter about 10 days ago

snow peas started at edge of compost bin to climb up wire

lettuce gone to seed, time to shake the seeds to re-sow or replace with fresh seed

planter with basil, rosemary, lavender and one renegade nasturtium