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!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Planting Early Crops

The weather was a questionable yesterday. It was cool and very rainy in the late morning/early afternoon. We hold Garden Club rain or shine but we prefer shine. We lucked out as the brisk breeze blew away the rain clouds and we were able to get outside and get to work. 
 Many seeds can be directly sown into the beds this early in the season. We are concentrating on companion planting this year so in one bed we planted carrots, beets, and chives. We chose to partner these up because planting carrots near onions confuses and repels the carrot rust fly. The bed in front of this one holds onions and chives are at either end of the carrots. Beets grow well with other root crops so that is why we added them to the carrots.

The children filled another bed with spinach and chard. These two crops are in the same family and grow well together.

In the bed that the peas were planted in last week the children planted marigolds to attract beneficial insects. The bed the peas are planted in are not amended well. Last year we only added a small amount of compost and leave mulch wintered over on it. By planting the peas we will enrich the soil because peas leave nitrogen behind in the soil. Beans do the same thing so that will be the next crop planted in this bed when the peas are done producing.

The peas have sprouted and grown about an inch since last week!

We estimate 90% germination rate in the pea beds.

The children were re-introduced to soil blocks. They got to make them and plant them. The reason we use soil blocks versus plastic or biodegradable starter containers is because soil blocks are the most natural way to start plants. The roots get all the oxygen they need to thrive and won't get disturbed when transplanting the seedlings into the garden. The blocks are made mostly of compost so the seedlings get the most nutrients possible and there is zero waste material to go into landfills or recycling centers.

panting the 3/4 inch blocks
Once these seeds get their true leaves they will be "blocked up" into 1 1/2 blocks.

 The highlight of this weeks club was building fairy houses with Mrs. Bunnell. The children are creating fairy villages using natural materials. They were very excited planning and designing "mansions" for the fairies to occupy. Mrs. Bunnell works for Smith's Acres LLC in Niantic CT. Click here for a link to their upcoming fairy garden classes.

We are in full swing in the garden. We hope to start harvesting as early as May. Please stop back often to check out our progress.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Clean-up 4/9/14

We had a fantastic turn out for our Spring clean-up. Every grade level was represented and all the children were eager to work. I think they were all as anxious as I was to get outside and start playing in the dirt. 

 The first task was to clean out the perennial sign bed.

The children pulled out last year's spent annuals and dead headed the perennials. We saw a lot of new growth underneath the old dead branches. 

Next, they got to work on the center perennial butterfly garden.

We saw bee balm, lambs ears, and yarrow pushing up out of the soil to make an appearance.

There was plenty of work to be done in the raised and tilled beds. The students cleared out last year's spent plants and pulled any stubborn weeds they found.  After that, they top dressed each raised bed with fresh soil and compost.

Building bamboo Teepees for the peas

Working hard!
Peas are able to go in early so the before planting them we built a couple of teepees. Last year we didn't support our beans soon enough and they ended up wrapping around themselves and I think our yield was affected. This year we planned ahead and got the support up as soon as the crop was planted.

Planting the peas :)

The end result (for now)
We will be planting many companions with the peas to fill the beds to get the most yield we can.  Companion plants keep pests away, attract beneficial insects, and look nice too.
Lettuce, chives, carrots, and beets can all be sewn directly now too. However, we ran out of time today so will be planting those next time.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Let's Get Growing!

Here comes the garlic!
I thought Winter would never leave! I love cold and the snow but this year I got more than my fill. Maybe because I knew the Garden was waiting, just sitting there patiently. Unlike me, I've been pouring over seed catalogs, sorting our saved seeds and dreaming of the time when we could get our hands dirty again. Anxious to see spikes of green shooting through the rich, sweet soil. As it always does, in it's own good time, Spring has finally sprung! Upon inspection of the Garden this weekend we rejoiced in how much life is starting to come back to our much loved project. 

Bee Balm poking through.

Lamb's ears springing back to life.
Sedum bursting through the soil
The garlic, leeks, and onions we set in the Fall are greening up nicely and shooting towards the sun. In our center perennial bed many of the plants are starting to make a welcome appearance.
 The daytime temps have ranged from low forties to mid sixties. After the long stretch of sub zero winter temperatures, even forties feel like a heat wave! Since the Garden is situated due South the strong Spring sun has been warming the beds nicely. So far we have had ample rain keeping the well drained raised beds moist.

Our first Garden club will meet this week to start cleaning out the beds, cut back the dead portions of the perennials, direct sow some cold crops and check on the progress of the compost bins started in the Fall. Spoiler alert: We have created black gold!
Last Fall we won a generous grant from The Waterford Education Foundation and have received money from  The Oswegatchie School Organization to proceed with the building of a Garden shed and fence. As soon as the grounds thaw  some more Oswegatchie students will begin working on those projects. We have such wonderful things planned for the Garden this year and hope you continue to stop by to share the successes of our dedicated students.