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, May 31, 2015


During this week's Garden Club we explored creatures that are beneficial to a garden environment. The children brainstormed lists of things they knew to be beneficial. Their knowledge was quite extensive. They know that bees and butterflies are pollinators, worms help aerate the soil, ladybugs eat aphids, and birds will eat bugs from the garden. We discussed that besides praying mantis being our state insect, they also will eat harmful insects from the garden. 
A lesser known fact among the children was that toads can consume 10,000 insects in a single season. That got them thinking that maybe we should invite some toads to live in our garden. They use recycled flower pots to create "toad houses" in an attempt to invite these fun critters to dine from our ever growing nature habitat. To learn more about toads check out this fun link to the Easy Science for Kids website.

decorating toad houses.
Here are some of the beneficial insects taking up residence in our school garden.

mating praying mantis
The praying mantis can reach up to 5" in length. Their heads can turn up to 180 degrees and their large eyes are perfect for spotting prey. They are ambush hunters which means they don't actively go looking for food. They will wait somewhere and pounce on prey when it comes near them. They aren't picky about what they eat either. They will eat butterflies and bees as easily as garden pests. They will also eat their own species. Very large mantis have been known to eat small salamanders, frogs, and birds!

Assassin bug
Assassin bugs use their long "beak" to pierce prey and inject it with lethal toxins that kill the insect within a few seconds. That same toxin will liquefy the insides of the prey which will then be drunk by the assassin bug. 

ladybug or ladybird beetle
Ladybugs can complete their life cycle from egg to adult in as little as 4-7 weeks. During that short lifetime a single ladybug can eat as many as 5000 aphids.

monarch butterfly

busy pollinating bee
The key to attracting beneficial insects to your garden is creating a diverse ecosystem and providing plenty of areas for habitats. If you would like to learn more about inviting beneficials to your own garden check out this article from Mother Earth News.

The warm weather we are having is finally making everything pop in the garden. Here are our latest progress shots.

Wild iris



walking stick kale

runner bean



The last Garden Club of the school year will be held June 9. We will be doing some summer session activities but very differently than last year. Follow us on Facebook to find out when we will be hosting summer garden activities. Facebook link

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dirty Hands, Happy Hearts

My Mom always used to say that you could tell how much fun you had by how dirty you were at the end of the day. If this week's Garden club is any indication, they all had a blast! 
While they were getting dirty, they planted tomatoes, basil, artichoke, walking stick kale, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, squash, bush beans and sunflowers. They worked hard clearing a pumpkin patch, and tasted the sprouts they started last week.

Seedlings ready to go in.

More seedlings.
I love how this club is really starting to work like a team to get things done. They communicated really well with each other to get the tasks accomplished.

Getting a pumpkin bed dug is hard work but this team persevered and got the task done.

I love proving time and again that when children take part in the process of growing their food, they are more likely to try new things and enjoy them as well.

Enjoying alfalfa sprouts

"These are yummy"
At every club we try to provide time for quiet reflection and journal entries. What we are really doing is incorporating literacy but they don't need to know that!

The perennial beds are becoming quite impressive. One child dubbed the center perennial bed "the heart of the Garden because you can tell there is a lot of love here."

After the snow delays this winter caused, we are finally back into building mode. The garden shed is nearly complete. We only have to put on the door, roof, and siding. Right after we get that done, construction on the greenhouse can begin.


peppers, sunflowers, oregano

walking stick kale (will grow over 6 feet tall)
I hope we can encourage you go to out and get messy with your own kids!
Happy Gardening!!

Water droplet on kale

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sense of Wonder

One of the reasons we started this project is so children could connect with nature. We began to realize that many children did not know where food comes from or how to be outside and just explore the world around them. The Garden seemed like a logical choice for both situations to be rectified. Rob and I both grew up in places that lent themselves to hours of uninterrupted exploration of both woods and gardens. We share our love of nature with our own children and wanted to extend that sense of wonder. We were ecstatic when we came across Kelly Johnson's website Wings Worms and Wonder. She embodies the exact spirit we hope to infuse into our Garden project. Part of today's Garden club was inspired by her Draw Yourself Back to Nature art class Rob and I are taking online. Children were encouraged to go into the Garden and sketch what they were drawn to. Here are a few more examples.


The recent warm spell has caused everything to pop in the past couple of weeks. Some of the seeds we planted last week are starting to come up as are seeds that fell from last year's fruits and flowers. 

sunflower planted last week just starting to sprout

self-seeded morning glories
self-seeded tomatoes

corn starting to sprout

peas are now over 6 inches tall

Kale growing nicely
Since this project is funded primarily by profits through Rob's Etsy shop and by us, we needed to get creative for bringing in more donations for the Garden. We want it to be self-supporting and want the children to be able to learn about a small business model so we came up with the idea of saving seeds to use as a fundraising project. This week we had the children package the seeds we have saved from last years crops. We have popcorn, three types of beans, sunflowers, lettuce, kale, and greens. All of the seeds are organic heirlooms. We will be making them all available and asking for a fair "donation" in exchange. All of the "profits" will be put directly back into supplies and materials for the Garden. When Rob tested each variety for germination rates we were astounded with an unheard of 100% germination rate. Most germinated within 24 hours. Like I always tell the children; "There is magic in the Garden!"

This project continues to be rewarding.  Every week we are inspired by the children to  bring them activities that will spark their sense of wonder and enjoyment of the natural world. If we haven't said it already, thank you Kelly Johnson for refueling our creative juices!