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, June 25, 2014

International Mud Day!

June 29 is International Mud Day. Who knew? What better way to celebrate a summer day than getting outside and playing in the mud with your kids? If you are feeling squeemish and thinking nothing good can come from playing in the mud, check out The Dirt on Dirt from the National Wildlife Federation.
Happy Mudding!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Green Season

Is there a category that comes before novice? I am not sure, but if there is that is where I fall when it comes to garden knowledge. My husband falls more into the expert category. He has been gardening or studying gardening for over 30 years. He experiments and documents, tries and learns from his mistakes. He observes, and plans, and creates his own way of doing things. I  jumped on his gardening bandwagon because I've always loved playing in the dirt (it's not fun unless you are getting dirty) and because I'd never see him if I didn't get out in the garden with him. His love of gardening combined with my belief that children need to be out in nature is how this whole project was born. 

When I think garden I imagine bushels of red, ripe juicy tomatoes, abundant bright yellow summer squash, and zucchini you can't give away by August. I didn't think the garden was "producing" unless you had a rainbow to show for it. This morning's trip to the garden to water has made me rethink the definition of "bounty". Due to early plantings and cool nights, greens are the front runner of our late spring/early summer harvest. Lesson learned today: appreciate what you have now instead of wasting energy wishing for what is to come. I hope you enjoy some of the images that were this morning's zen.

sugar snap and snow peas

rainbow chard
Ford Hook Giant chard
Blue Curled Scotch and Judy's kale
3/4 lb. basil and oregano

 In total, today's harvest had a yield of nearly 6 lbs. Bringing the total of edibles harvested so far this season to 30 lbs.! Not bad for crops I didn't consider worthy of being called crops. The rest of the garden is coming along nicely as well. Garlic is nearly ready and onions will not be far behind. I spied the very beginnings of cucumbers and saw some of the beans have begun to flower. Beets, carrots, and radish are still going despite our late plantings. Our two types of corn are on track and the sunflowers continue to reach for the sky. Our pumpkins and squash are sitting pretty waiting for July's heat to send them into overdrive.

Our summer session garden club starts July 1. The children will be very busy tending, harvesting, and planting as well as learning about soil, seeds, and weather. Stay  tuned.....

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Final School Year Garden Club

Everyone took home a head of lettuce!

Today we hosted our final school year garden club. We thought it only fitting for the children to have a harvest/tasting party. The children harvested lettuce, spinach, kale, basil, oregano, and garlic scapes for smoothies and salads. The final harvest total for lettuce alone was 10 pounds! They also picked 1/4 pound each of spinach, kale, and garlic scapes. After harvesting, the children washed the produce then made their own salad dressings using fresh herbs and spices while another group made kale smoothies. My favorite quote of the day came after a child tasted the kale smoothie and said "it tastes like the garden!"
Harvesting Tango lettuce.
Harvesting Ruge De'Hiver lettuce
They really enjoyed picking the lettuce!
After spending time picking we brought everything back in, washed it and got to work!

We added pineapple, banana, water and dates to the kale and blended it in the NutriBullet blender.
The bright green drink looked as good as it tasted!

Mrs. Dyjak taught the children how to make their own salad dressing using oils, vinegars, lemon juice, garlic, herbs and spices.

The library where we were holding the "cooking session" smelled wonderfully of garlic, basil, balsamic, and oregano. One child commented that the salad they made "tastes better than Olive Garden!" Many of the children realized that making your own dressing was really very easy and asked their parents if they could try it at home. That right there makes this project worth the time and effort we put into it. When children realize that they not only like growing their own veggies but that it tastes better than what they have gotten in other places, my job is done. We will be hosting a summer session of the garden club as well where we will delve deeper into soil composition, beneficial insects, and how weather effects garden yields. Stay tuned for updates for that, but in the meantime, here are some glimpses of the garden that is just starting to flourish.

peas really starting to climb

pea blossom

wild iris

mini sunflower




Angie's boom chick pop popcorn (desperately needs to be weeded)

organic potatoes

Monday, June 2, 2014

Come On Monarchs!

It's official!
The Garden at Oswegatchie School has officially become a Monarch Waystation. This means we provide food, nectar, and shelter to migrating Monarchs. It is our small way of respecting and protecting these beautiful creatures. It is very easy to attract butterflies to your own yards. In this post I'll share some resources to get you started. is a very comprehensive site that will direct you to a plethora of online butterfly sources. They will fill you in on all things monarch. is a great place to learn all about butterflies and moths. They have great advice for attracting different types of butterflies with plants. You can also find a nice variety of clip art as well as links to other "buggy" sites.

If you would like to look at butterflies without having to do the work of planting a butterfly garden, there are several places close by to enjoy them. The closest would be Chelsea Botanical Gardens in Norwich. Another fairly close place is Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory in South Deerfield MA (down the road from Yankee Candle). One that is a little farther but still doable as a day trip is The Butterfly Place in Westford, MA. Clicking on the names of each place will re-direct you to each site.

Of course I can't leave out the books! Listed below are some of my favorites on the subject of Butterflies.
Gail Gibbons is one of my favorite "go to" authors for children's non-fiction. In this book, she outlines the monarch's life cycle with clear concise text and detailed illustrations. She also maps out the migratory path and gives instructions for raising your own monarch.

Simple text in this easy to read butterfly journey details a classroom of children as they hatch a butterfly. This lovely little book illustrates each step of the butterfly life cycle. The author also includes a section of common butterflies to look for in your yard.

DK Publishing is the leader when it comes to life cycle photography books for children. This book has up close photographs in stunning detail for every stage of a butterfly life cycle. They break down the time line for common species and add extra interesting facts on almost every page. Emergent readers as well as beginners will enjoy this book.

Older readers will learn nearly everything there is to know about 23 common garden butterflies in this gem of a field guide. The stunning photography captures each life cycle stage as well as host and nectar plants for each species. There is a whole section dedicated to Butterfly Habitat gardening that is very user friendly.

This lengthy picture book by Melissa Stewart is delightfully illustrated by Higgins Bond. It contains some little known and interesting facts about several species of butterflies. Did you know butterflies have lived on earth for around 140 million years? Or that some butterflies thrive in burned forestland? Several butterfly species are highlighted in this text. The author also includes maps locating some common species.

For introducing non-fiction to very young listeners The Butterfly by Anna Milbourne and Cathy Shimmen is your go-to book. Cartoon like illustrations and simple text outline the butterfly life cycle in the simplest of terms while asking listeners to predict what will happen next. Great for a lap sit read aloud for your toddler or preschooler. 

In this sweet story two friends learn about friendship, growing up and staying together. Farfallina and Marcel are a caterpillar and gosling who grow up together learning to respect each others differences by being considerate of their different abilities. The book hints at life cycles without coming out and detailing them. 

If gardening or reading about butterflies isn't your cup of tea, Pinterest has a wealth of Butterfly crafts for kids. This site is my favorite place to wander when looking for anything crafty.

Be sure to check back when our habitat is in full bloom. Hopefully we'll be able to get some pictures of our visitors.

A visitor at our house last year.