The Garden at Oswegatchie School is a sustainable organic garden where children get a hands on experience learning where their food comes from while developing an appreciation and respect for nature. The Garden will be a learning center to teach gardening as well as incorporating art, music, literature, math and science. It is a place where children are encouraged to join in and participate in the process of creating, developing and maintaining the garden!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Creating Compost

Playing in the leaves before adding them to the compost pile.

We were worried it might be too chilly to work in the Garden today. Yesterday's biting winds had us rethinking a Garden Club meeting last night. It was too late to contact everyone to cancel so we kept our fingers crossed and went ahead as planned. The wind died down and it was a crisp 44 degrees. The children showed up eager to work and curious.

Today's topic was compost; how to make it, why we compost, and what lives in it. Rather than waste a lot of time talking about it, we did a quick survey of what they knew about compost then  we put the kids right to work. Our wonderful kitchen staff started saving food scraps for us a couple of days ago so the first thing we did was collect the scrap bucket (green matter). One group of children got busy collecting leaves (brown matter) while another starting moving some of our leftover garden dirt into the bins for a nice compost base. I was reminded once again that what adults consider work, children consider play. I couldn't help but get caught up in their joy as they made "leaf angels" or found "fat juicy" worms in the dirt pile. All of the children worked as a team to rake leaves, shovel dirt, and layer the compost ingredients. I was thrilled to hear "I didn't know garden club could be fun when it's cold too!"

If you want to learn more about composting or start your own compost bins Cornell University has a comprehensive guide you can access by clicking here.

The bucket our kitchen waste is collected in.

This weeks tasty selection!

Collecting leaves for the compost.

Adding dirt to the compost.

Adding leaves to the "extra" bin.

Adding the "green" material to the bin.

Second layer
Working hard to even out the layer.

Ready for the next layer.
Everyone grabbed a handful.

Third layer coming in.

We added a little more dirt to the third layer of leaves.
Taking a moment to make a "leaf angel".

The finished piece.

Our hard working dedicated crew!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Cub Scouts Lend a Hand

Some members from Waterford's Pack 36 Den 2 lend a hand.
Today we built the compost bins for the School Garden. Some boy scouts and cub scouts from Pack 36, Den 2 came out to help us "zip" them together. We used recycled wooden pallets for the frames and then just zip tied them together for ease. Mrs. Houlihan and her wonderful staff in the Oswegatchie school cafeteria will be collecting fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen to add to the compost. This goes along nicely with our sustainability mission to use materials from the school grounds to perpetuate the garden. The kitchen scraps combined with grass clippings, leaves, and garden waste will make for some rich compost to be used in the garden boxes and tilled beds. 

Thank you very much to Brenda, Chris, Ian, and Kyle McNeil, Kyle and Craig Caulkins, Paul and Kevin McEntarfer, and Sam Menders for coming out and helping us with this project. We appreciate your efforts in helping to grow this garden project.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Planting Onions and Leeks

The onion and leek sets  arrived last week from Peaceful Valley Farms. We have found them to be the best supplier of organic seeds and sets. It was a little cool and windy but the whole family pitched in to get the job done. 

Sarah got the bed ready by lightly turning the soil. We were thrilled to see a copious amount of worms thriving in the soil.

Rob then got to work spacing the holes using the bio intensive method.

"I use the biointensive method for planting, which allows you to plant 4 times the amount in one-quarter of the area. Some great resources on biointensive planting are How to Grow More Vegetables and The Sustainable Vegetable Garden by John Jeavons of Ecology Action. The biointensive method includes double digging your beds, and planting in a honeycomb pattern to make better use of your planting area.  Double digging allows the plants roots to grow larger, giving them access to more food and water, providing for healthier plants and better yields. 
According to the charts in these books, onions should be spaced 4" apart."

(excerpt from Bepa's Garden)

Amanda got the onion sets ready by cutting them to three inch lengths while Rob and Sarah planted them. In the Spring when the onions start growing, we can thin them and use the thinned plants as scallions.

One full bed of onions
We used the same process for planting the leeks. 

planting the leeks in the other half of the garlic bed

To protect the sets from freezing and to add nutrients to the soil, we then covered the planted beds with chopped leaves.

Today was about 53 with a light breeze. We had about 1/4 inch of rain this week.
The parsley is still going strong and will continue to thrive over the winter. A critter of undetermined species has munched one of the greens beds down to the ground. It's a good thing we got our grant from the Waterford Education Foundation. We will be able to put the fence up shortly!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Planting Garlic

We had our first light frost the other night, so on a last minute decision we took advantage of this warm Sunday to get the garlic planted.

Garlic is best planted from September 15th to November 30th, with the optimal time being October after a light frost.

We planted a total of 60 bulbs which include a mix of organic German Extra Hardy, Pskem River and Music garlic which I purchased from Seed Savers Exchange.

We used the biointensive method of planting, which entails spacing the plants closer in a honeycomb pattern. Planting this way allows you to grow more in less space, and reduces the need to water and weed because the closeness of plants leaves shade the ground below.

After planting the garlic we covered the bed with a few inches of leaves to hold in moisture and protect the bulbs from freezing. Once we gather more leaves from the school grounds we will add more to the beds.We then covered the bed with mesh to deter the squirrels from digging up the bulbs.

Hopefully we will grow enough garlic to give away with enough left over to save for planting next season. To learn more about planting garlic, click the image below.

While working in the garden we noticed the salad greens and parsley still thriving despite being unprotected and being exposed to the frost.

We decided to harvest some of the greens, parsley and the remaining radishes.

 We harvested a total of 2 lbs of greens plus 2-3/4 lbs of radishes. There are still plenty of salad greens and parsley left in the garden so we need to get our hoops and row covers up very soon before it really gets cold!

Activity is low in the garden now that most of the beds have been cleared after the last summer harvest, but we saw several birds feeding on the seeds from the marigolds and a couple bees basking in the warm sun in the perennial garden.

Upcoming garden projects will include:

 Building the compost bins,
Covering the greens with hoops and row covers,
Collecting leaves from the grounds to cover the planted beds,
Institute a composting program in the cafeteria,
Layout the new beds for  next years planting,
and hopefully start on the new shed and fence if our grant comes through!