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!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Salad Anyone?

So only after 29 days some of our lettuce is ready to harvest! I'm going to check with Dianne Houlihan in the school kitchen and see if she would like to start serving some. The tango salad mixes are coming along nicely as well. They seem to be a little slower growing. The radishes have also popped up nicely.

Still waiting on the kale and beets. This garden project is teaching me patience. I know everything will grow in it's own time.
We are still buzzing with activity in the perennial bed. Bees and butterflies are still stopping by to enjoy the flowers. Our caterpillar friends are still happily munching away on the parsley. It looks like they may be getting ready to spin their chrysalis.

We have another tentative work party scheduled for the Garden Club members Saturday October 5 at 9:00 am weather permitting. We will be trimming around the beds, cleaning out the tomato and pepper beds and getting them ready for garlic. Please let me know if you can make it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 15, 2013

This morning's garden progress check brought about some pleasant surprises. First, our parsley is being used for a host plant for either Anise Swallowtail or Black Swallowtail caterpillars. You can click on the butterfly names to learn more information about each type. We have seen both kinds of butterflies in the garden so until they emerge from their chrysalis' we won't know for sure which species has decided to use our garden as a nursery. Both kinds are attracted to butterfly bush and milkweed (we have both planted) and both kinds use parsley as a host plant. Host plants are the plants that  serve as food when the eggs hatch.

How many caterpillars can you find?

I love the colors and patterns on this little guy.

Another interesting find this morning was a pair of mating praying mantis. After they are done mating, the female will bite the head off the male. It will be interesting to see if we have more mantis in the garden next year or if the offspring will seek shelter elsewhere. Either way, I'm thrilled that we have created a little oasis where the children can view some of these cools aspects of a garden.

Our winter greens are continuing to do well. The cool nights have provided the perfect climate for the greens to flourish. It won't be long now before we can taste the first sweet greens!

The garden is still vibrant with color. The petunias have begun to bloom again and the fall asters have started to open up. The butterfly bush still has some purple blossoms and some of the shasta daisies are holding on. If you have the chance, stop by and check out how much life is still left in the garden!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Beginning a New Season

Veggie man!

On this gorgeous crisp day with a twinge of Fall in the air we decided to take a peek at the Garden to see if our Winter garden seeds have sprouted yet. We couldn't resist picking the last of the tomatoes and found quite a few red peppers as well. We enjoy finding the whimsy in nature, we couldn't help put together this Veggie Man when we picked his red pepper mouth. He just seems to encompass how we feel about this whole project; joyful, if not a little frazzled at times!

It was a little disheartening to see that some of the last of the tomato harvest was wasted when someone picked a bunch and smashed them on the guardrail separating the garden from the parking lot. Picking them to eat them is one thing, but to waste them so blatantly was uncalled for when we are trying to teach respect for nature. I know, it was only a few tomatoes you say. What's the big deal? The big deal is once we start playing the "it's only..." game, things escalate quickly. I can only hope that it was "only" a few tomatoes because the culprits were caught and reprimanded. Enough said.

On a positive note, the winter veggies are sprouting! Everything we planted is coming up. These cool nights are providing the perfect conditions for it to thrive.

The hardest part is waiting. Looking back on the pictures of the summer garden's progress, I know that it is only a matter of a few short months and we will be harvesting bountiful greens and roots! Now that everything has sprouted it will grow quickly.

We are still waiting for some of the peppers to turn red. We will have about another dozen in a couple of weeks. 

We got to test out our new rain gauge last week. I was surprised by the reading though, I thought with the downpours we had, the gauge would be overflowing.

Our praying mantis friend is still around. We may have to give it a name. There must be a lot of food for it to be hanging around so long. Some cultures believe the praying mantis is a sign of good fortune, others see it as a message of stillness and creativity. Either way, it makes me happy to see him hanging out in the Garden.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Switching Gears

The summer growing season may be winding down  but we are still plugging along in the Garden at Oswegatchie School. Today we planted the winter garden. Threat of rain kept people away. That didn't stop my dedicated family from doing what needed to be done. We planted four of the raised beds with mesclun mix (greens), mustard greens (mizuna), mesclun spicy mix (greens), braising mix (greens), kale, lettuce (green salad bowl), lettuce (tango), lettuce (royal oakleaf), pink beauty radish, white beauty radish, early wonder beets, amaranth, ruby streak greens, asian greens,  and hon tsai tai (asian greens). We believe that this varied crop will give children a chance to taste things they may have never tasted before. It will also give them more of a chance to explore the garden during the extended growing season. 

We have also added more educational features to our Garden by adding a rain gauge, thermometer, and produce scale. All of these items have easy to read, kid-friendly designs that will allow students to use them independently with ease.

Rain gauge and solar powered thermometer.

produce scale
We managed to eek out another 4 pounds of produce this morning that included peppers, tomatoes, and a butternut squash.

While walking around photo documenting the Garden I came upon a really cool creature called a praying mantis. He (or she) was about 6 inches long, tan-ish brown on it's back and green underneath. This creature is amazing because it eats the bad bugs that are invading our Garden. More information about the praying mantis can be found here.

We can expect to start harvesting the fruits of today's labor in about 20 days. After we add the mini-greenhouses we can harvest the greens all through the winter as most of the plants will keep producing after being picked. I can tell you from experience that there is nothing sweeter than fresh greens in the dead of winter. Until next time, enjoy some of the beauty still thriving in the Garden.