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!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

After School Garden Club 5/30/13

A nest of Eastern Bluebird eggs

This Garden Project isn't just about children learning where their food comes from. It's about getting them outside and connected to nature. A garden just happens to be a place where a plethora of nature can be observed. Case in point. When we took our after school Garden Club outside to begin working someone found an eggshell. Ooos, and aaahhhs rang out as the children gathered around to get a closer look at the treasure. We have seen beautiful Eastern Bluebirds soaring over the garden for a couple of weeks now and after a little research concluded the egg shell we found was indeed an Eastern Bluebird egg. 

Our found treasure.

It is our hope that by showing children how fragile and beautiful nature can be they will grown a healthy respect for it and become stewards of the earth. The children decided the egg was too pretty to throw away so we put it back into our front flower bed. One child observed that it was like putting compost on your plants "because the egg shell would rot away and give food to the plants."  So, they really are listening...

Another one of our endeavors in the garden that day was to begin planting our Three Sisters beds. Many Native American legends tell of the Three Sisters. It is disputed as to the original or one true story. This three sisters  link is from the Iroquois tradition. They all basically have the same theme; getting along and working together to provide for the good of all. What it comes down to is companion planting. Planting plants that benefit each other. The crops that make up the Three Sisters are corn, beans, and squash. These are crops that were staple crops for the Native Americans and had the ability to keep them fed through long, cold winters. Corn is planted first. When the corn is about 4 inches high, you plant the beans and squash around it. As the corn grows tall, it becomes support for the climbing beans. The beans release nitrogen into the soil which benefits the corn. The squash covers the ground all around both of them which will keep the ground cool, prevent weeds, and keep some furry critters like racoons away from the corn because racoons do not like the feel of the prickly leaves and stems of the squash.

The Three Sisters seeds were purchased from 1840 Farm's Heirloom Seed Collection. Jennifer graciously included her entire heirloom seed collection when she found out we were purchasing the seeds for our school garden project!

planting corn

More about companion planting can be found on Organic Gardening's website. Here is a link.

The children also got to plant pumpkin seedlings that were taking over Rob's greenhouse. The pumpkins we planted are pie pumpkins so hopefully we will get a good crop so Mrs. Houlian our chef extraordinaire can turn them into something yummy for us!

Working hard!

Did I forget to mention the day we planted was the hottest so far this spring? Well, it was a scorcher! Our intent was to have the children finish filling the center perennial bed with dirt so we could start putting some perennials in. We just didn't feel right about making those kids do such hard labor on such a hot day. So we had them do some light planting instead. Afterwards, Mrs. DeMarco was kind enough to provide the children with an icy treat. Thanks again Mrs. DeMarco! Mind you, the children did not faint away from heat exhaustion. After we planted the seedlings and corn seeds. They got to water the plants (and themselves) in.

Watering the peppers.
Watering the pumpkin and each other!

As with all the other aspects of the garden, cleaning up and putting tools away is also a responsibility that falls to the children. There was some grumbling but in the end we had willing volunteers to help out.

Small but mighty!

The garden has only been up for a month and the transformation is encouraging. While watering this morning we noticed flowers on some of the squash plants and even the tiniest nub of a squash forming. Pictures coming soon. I am so proud of Oswegatchie gardeners!

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