What a looooonng winter it has been. The students are certainly hoping for some warmer weather soon so that we can head out into the garden and get some planting done. This was the week when last year we planted the raised beds with the cool season early veggies!
The garden club students have been very busy preparing for a visit from a 3rd grade class from Mohegan School. This visit is possible because of a SEEF grant. The garden club students are preparing "learning stations" that the 3rd graders will visit. "Learning stations" include; what is a seed, plant maintenance, composting, and the garden buildings. Third graders will plant their own seeds and take them back to their classroom where they will observe the seeds over the next few weeks. The garden club students will also take part in a couple of "google hangouts with the 3rd graders to see how their seeds are progressing. Be sure to check back for more on this awesome collaboration.
During FLEX! today, we discussed our spring plans. The major plans include putting a permanent bed in the hoop house along one side. This will provide space for our tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and peppers during the summer and will be the prime location for our over-winter-gardening efforts next fall! We are going to attempt to have fresh greens right through the winter!
To do so, we need to work on our watering system. With the shed in place, the automatic watering system will be installed this spring. We would like to have a dedicated water line to the hoop house, the garden, and the compost area for clean up.
Out of the 12 raised beds, 1 was planted with garlic, one was planted with asparagus and the other 10 will be planted soon with our early spring veggies including radishes, kale, kolibri, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, swiss chard, etc... They should provide some great harvest throughout the spring.
The empty field space will soon be better recognized as an early indian garden because the garden club will be following traditional planting practices and planting the "three sisters" Check back for more on that later this spring.
And lastly, we are planning a spring sunflower sale. We will be germinating dwarf sunflowers shortly in the classroom and they will be available for sale in May. They will be a great addition to any indoor or outdoor space.
Please check back for more updates as we enter the most exciting time of our club. If you would like to offer assistance or advice, please don't hesitate to contact us!
- Mr. Wolf
The SIS Community Garden received a nice surprise in the mail today. We were awarded a Seed Keeper Home Farmer kit in recognition of our school gardening efforts. This award was given by the Seed Keeper Company as part of their school based "Seed Keeper Project". The company awards the kit to one school garden in every state. The kit is great and will be very helpful with the organization and record keeping of our plantings. The garden club would like to offer a huge thank you to the Seed Keeper Company for their recognition and support.
- Mr. Wolf
With a new year the SIS Garden is very excited for some upcoming projects this spring. Projects include getting ready for the spring planting, preparing lessons for our visiting third graders from ESS, learning more detail about the structure and function of plants, and getting our new worm farm set up.
Vermicomposting, as it us known, is using worms to break down organic material to create compost. The benefit of this system is that it can be done right in the classroom. If done right (which we hope to do) there should not be any odor. Much to the satisfaction of all the students.
The set up is to use three plastic totes. The bottom tote collects the liquid waste which can be used as a "compost tea". The upper two totes are where the worms are fed leftover food from the students lunches. After a few days that food will quickly be converted into the compost we need. The worms we are using are called red wrigglers or a trout worm. We will be sure to keep you updated as this project moves along.
- Happy gardening
Last Wednesday during the first Flex! club of the year, the garden club offered their first of many "garden tables" We don't have enough produce yet for a full fledged Garden stand! It was an absolute success. Garden club members went outside first thing and were able to harvest, bundle, and display many offerings. We were able to sell arugula, swiss chard, radishes, gourmet salad mix, and four different varieties of herbs. It was really great to watch months of the students hard work finally pay off with this new chapter for the SIS Community Garden.
The first sale was a trial with only staff and students able to purchase. However, we are opening up the sales to the public starting next week. So, Wednesday, October 16th - come to SIS to purhcase fresh veggies. Sales will be held from 11 - 1 in the main lobby. Expected crop includes; swiss chard, arugula, gourmet lettuce mix, herbs, and radishes,
Take a look at the pics below!
The fall has seen many great things happening in the SIS Community Garden. For starters, we entered 5 different vegetables in the Bethlehem Country Fair, and while we went ribbonless, I was very proud of the students for their hard work in getting the veggies fair worthy. I think that the CT Fairs will be impressed with the SIS Community Garden offerings next year!
Towards the end of the summer, I sent an email to my students and was so proud when fifteen showed up the week before school for 2 hours to help me weed the garden and put in a fall planting. We weeded the swiss chard and kale beds, which looks fantastic. We also planted many fall favorites such as radishes, kolibri, carrots, arugula, and gourmet lettuce mix. In addition, we have numerous herbs ready. We will begin selling our crop to the public in early October. Please be sure to check back often for updates.
The largest project of the fall however, has been the construction of the SIS Community Garden Shed. This shed was provided by a generous grant from The Valley Community Foundation. There has always been a plan for the garden to acquire a shed so that the community will better be able to utilize the garden. This dream became a reality when the Valley Foundation accepted my grant proposal for the purchase of a shed kit to be built by the community. Despite the showers and cloudy weather, the day was a complete success. A huge thanks to Mr. Yamnicky for representing the SIS staff and teaching many students some of the basics of carpentry. In addition, a very grateful thank you goes to the dozen parents and 2 dozen students who showed up willing to help and learn.
We worked for 7 hours and in addition to the shed being built, Mr. Saranich tilled out a couple hundred square feet of garden space. This will be used for a corn field, giant sunflowers, perennial plantings, and a strawberry field. Thank you Mr. Maloney for the use of your tiller. In addition, Mrs. Saranich along with many other families planted approximately 200 pots in the hoop house with different varieties of lettuce seeds. If all goes well, this lettuce should last us through the holiday season.
For me, personally this was perhaps the best day in the life of the SIS Community Garden. This is truly what a school community project is all about. It was a great feeling when I took the time to look up from the direction book and see so many students spending their personal time on a Saturday at their school learning, working, and having fun socializing with each other. If you haven't yet seen the garden, It is looking better than ever. Please come and take a look around. Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who was able to help make this a great day.
Happy Gardening -
The first of the seeds that were planted about a month ago are beginning to reach the harvest stage. The Garden Club spent last Tuesday morning out in the garden slowly whittling down the pile of dirt into the raised beds. These are the future home of the warm season veggies getting ready in the hoophouse.
They also performed their weekly weeding duties, getting much better at knowing what to pick and not to pick! A couple of students helped me to put up a trellis net for our ever lengthening pea plants. Mr. Yamnicky donated the net and it worked perfectly to stretch over the two low pea beds. A lot was accomplished, but the students had the most fun at the end of period when we were able to harvest the radishes!
Each student picked out a radish and they were certainly impressed with how big they were. They were eager to try them, so we went into the classroom and talked about the leaves and roots before we washed them, and then I cut them in half so they could see what the inside looked like. I offered them up with some salad dressing, but to my surprise and delight, many declined and just ate them raw. How satisfying to see 20 middle school students all trying a fresh grown radish that they just picked 5 minutes ago and loving it. Many said they had never tried one before, but would surely ask their parents to buy some! SUCCESS!!!
In addition to the radish, all the other cool season crops will be harvested prior to school letting out - this includes: kale, lettuce, broccoli, beets, swiss chard, and some very large spinach!
On Friday, Mr. Wolf's SIS class started their experiments that they have been planning for about a week now. Students worked in groups to decide what they wanted to test. Some tested type of liquid, others tested organic vs. natural fertilizers,or amount of light. One group is looking at the effect of companion planting and finally another group is testing the effect of treated water. They are watering their radishes with tap, bottled, boiled, and microwaved water to see if there is a difference in plant growth.
Big Congratulations to the SIS Community Garden. Mr. Wolf and Mrs. Sedlock from Mohegan School wrote a grant proposal for the Shelton Education Endowment Fund (SEEF) and were notified yesterday that they were awarded the $250 grant money. They will use this money to purchase plant light tables and a webcam. 3rd grade students at Mohegan take lettuce seedlings home and observe them for a period of time. The idea is for SIS students to grow the seedlings, sharing the germination and growth process with the Mohegan students via webcam. When the seedlings are ready, Mohegan 3rd graders will visit the garden, where they will be taught mini lessons from the SIS students and then given their seedlings. This will be a great collaborative effort between two Shelton Schools!
So the hoop house has been up for about a month now, and the garden club is really getting the most out of it. It certainly has been a tricky spring with the cold weather, but the hoop house is already performing beyond expectation. We have had seedlings in there for a couple of weeks now that we would not have otherwise been able to grow. I have been opening up the doors to the house during the day to keep the temp down in the 90's and it gets closed up at night, to hold in that heat.
Saturday, was an interesting day as I was checking the forecasted lows all day and they were cold, but bearable at around 36 degrees. At 11 at night, I'm watching the nightly news and they start saying that lows are now in the 20's with frost warnings. I didn't want all that hard work to go waste, so I drove up and put a second layer of plastic on the seedlings to keep off any frost. Luckily, it worked and they made it okay.
The Garden club was out in the garden today doing some work. We had students watering the raised beds, weeding the footpaths and the beds, spreading mulch, and watering the seedlings in the hoop house. It was a wonderfully warm day and hopefully a sign of things to come.
Happy Gardening -