Thursday, September 27, 2007

Final Harvest

Today's harvest by 4th graders working with Mrs. W. and Ms. R. included:
  • 4 pounds of carrots
  • 1 1/2 pounds of cabbage
  • 1/2 pound of misc. (radish, beet, swiss chard)
Students inspected the frost damage and helped to take out any remaining plants that are ready for the compost pile. All that's left to do is pull out the broccoli that went to seed and take down the tomato ladders.

The flowers are still growing well. We've had a lot of rain lately and no more frost so they have really filled in. Students like to go into the garden during their recess and look at all of the colors.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Angleworms are GOOD for the garden

Well, it’s been a week since our hard frost, and we still have things to do in the garden. Today we invited any of the 4th graders that wanted to work with our volunteers to come into the garden during their morning recess time. Mrs. W. had lots of company and helpers. Here is her report:

The kids were sure busy this morning. I was able to teach them:

1. Angle worms are good for the garden. It lets you know you have healthy soil so don't take them out of the garden.

2. Showed them the little cabbages developing on the cabbage plants, and how you get them.

3. Whenever taking plants out of the garden, make sure you shake the soil off the roots into the garden.

Just a few things to harvest today.

  • One purple cabbage head that weighs 2 ¼ pounds
  • 1 beet
  • 4 radishes
  • One carrot -- we’ll pull the rest of the carrots next week.

One of the sunflower roots was left out to dry off in the garden. The tomato vines are just waiting to be pulled out and destroyed because of the problems we had with spotting leaves and blossom end rot.

Our compost corner is growing. The flowers look wonderful thanks to being covered up before the frost, they are still going strong.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jack Frost coming to visit our garden tonight

Frost warnings are posted for the entire region, so it’s time to make a final harvest. It’s a really windy day, fall is definitely in the air.

Several 4th graders set to work filling four red tubs and one cardboard box with the following:

  • 16 radishes
  • 3 giant Marconi peppers
  • 14 Chinese bell peppers
  • 38½ pounds of green pear tomatoes and “regular” tomatoes.
  • 8 cucumbers

A grand total of 46¾ pounds were harvested from the garden beds today.

We’ve only been back in school for one week. Students were just starting to enjoy going to the garden during their recess to see what had changed.

Now most of that will be over for this season.

Also cut down were the sunflowers, but not before kids got one last chance to enjoy looking up at them and posing for photos.

Kids, can you believe how tall these sunflowers you planted, watered and carefully measured have grown? They’re lots taller than you are! We forgot to take a final measurement, but see how they extend over the top of the fence line?

It will be sad to see them come down. But our art teacher wants to use the sunflowers for a special project in her classroom. We look forward to enjoying them in a new way.

This garden project produced over 100 pounds of produce. We counted up to 300 separate vegetables that were harvested, but so many tomatoes made up this final harvest that we lost count.

Just how many pear tomatoes are there in 13 ½ pounds? What about all those green tomatoes? They weighed 25 pounds, but how many were there? Lots!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Final Harvest of the Summer Season Sets a Record!

Where has the summer gone? Today is our last day in the garden. Mrs. P. has participation certificates to hand out to the students who have come over the summer and appreciation certificates for the adults that have been so willing to volunteer.

The weather is beautiful today and everywhere we look there are vegetables in the beds ready for harvesting.

While we're waiting for kids, Mrs. W. and Ms. R. get busy taking off diseased leaves from the tomato plants. It’s hard to see the yellow tomatoes with so many yellow leaves. “They get that way this time of year”, advises Mrs. W.

Mrs. P. is taking photographs and making journal entries.

One of our cabbages has been attacked. But, “no”, “that’s the weather”, said Mrs. W. “It split because it was ready, we should have cut it last time.” So, we cut it now and throw it into the compost pile. Mrs. W. says that 4 to 6 new little cabbages will grow up where we cut off the old one. Won’t that be fun to see?

We have a record harvest collecting:

  • 11 radishes
  • 10 Giant Marconi peppers
  • 37 Chinese giant bell peppers
  • 2 turnips
  • 65 pear tomatoes
  • 9 red tomatoes
  • 16 carrots (mostly from thinning)
  • 10 cucumbers
  • 1 split cabbage head &
  • 1 good cabbage head

This harvest weighed 27¾ pounds all together. Of this amount 26# was usable, with only 1¾ pounds of spoiled or diseased product.

It’s been a fun summer working in the garden. Mrs. W, Ms. R. and Mrs. P. really missed the students today and felt bad that no one was able to come and enjoy this fabulous harvest with us, but we know we’ll all be back in school together soon.

There will still be some more harvesting to come. The carrots are looking good and so is the broccoli. Our newly planted beans have flowers on them, so if the frost holds off we should have beans also.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mid-August Harvest

This week we had more adult volunteers than students in the garden. Summer is in full gear and families are taking advantage of vacation time. We hope everyone is enjoying their last days of summer. As we gathered in the garden it was a record hot day, over 90 degrees with NO wind.
Thanks to everyone who came to help.

Observations & activities:
Cucumbers are coming along nicely.
  • Mr. P. found calcium deficiency in some of our peppers and tomatoes. "Blossom-end rot".
  • Next year we will add some lime to our soil, but will "live with it, for now". Just slice off the bottom and go ahead and eat the rest of it, advised our master gardeners.
  • Mrs. W. has been coming to remove the caterpillars from the cabbages.

  • We saw a white sulfa butterfly, the likely culprit whose caterpillars are making the holes in our cabbage plants.
  • RJ asked, "are those eggs?" Mrs. W. said, "No RJ, those are droppings. So, we know the critters are in there."
  • We found an unknown "worm", and two of the green cabbage lupers.
  • RJ emptied half a shaker of chili powder on the cabbage leaves.
  • 3 beds of carrots were thinned out.
  • Alison noted "one of the things about the garden is you get to eat food".
  • We cut open and tasted the green pepper with the blossom end rot.
  • A skink found a home in the pepper bed. Mr. L. said "don't grab him by the tail".

Today's harvest--we brought a scale and weighed our harvest:

21 Bell Peppers: (our 1st picking )
16 Giant marconi peppers
8 -1/2 total pounds of peppers

Pear tomatoes: (our 1st picking)
4 -3/4 total pounds of turnips, radishes, tomatoes & the thinned carrots

Saturday, July 28, 2007

First Turnips Harvested in July

July's last meeting of the Helping Hands 4-H Garden Club came in the same week as the county fair. Whew! These kids have been busy! The night before our garden meeting, it was our club's turn to work in the 4-H food booth helping to raise funds for the county 4-H program. Thanks to the 16 kids and 10 adults who turned out to help. Several of those same kids came in the next morning in time for gardening.

The tomatoes in bed 8 had blighted leaves, so one of the first tasks was to get busy pulling those leaves off. Mrs. W. reminded the kids, "Now, don't put those in the compost pile, they have a disease, so we will have to throw those away somewhere else".

Bed 5 still have large holes in the cabbage leaves. There was a spider present, but Mrs. W. said, "He's probably doing the garden good, it's a grub that's causing this problem". One idea suggested was a floating row cover which would allow sun in but keep the white butterfly from landing and laying her eggs on the plant. Alison said, "Hey, me and my friend like to catch those butterflies."

Bed 3 had some space, so kids replanted beans, swiss chard and radishes today. The lettuce planted last time is not doing very well. It's probably too hot for lettuce this time of year.

Mr. P. brought supplies to assemble the last 4 tomato cages and each of the students present took a turn with the hammer and drill helping to put the cages together.

Today's harvest included a huge turnip which Alison and her mother both had to pull together to get it out of the ground. Click the photo to see just how huge this turnip was. (yes, that's my camera strap in the photo, just ignore it, ok?) Thirteen turnips in all were harvested, we cut up one to try and everyone thought they were great. "I'm going to go buy lots of these, they're good!" said one of the girls.

Can you believe how much space these turnips took up in this bed? just look at how empty it looks now that the girls have harvested all of the turnips.

Mrs. A. from the food pantry surprised the children by coming to visit us this week in the garden. She came to collect two buckets of produce and gladly posed for a photo. "Turnips and peppers, that will make a lot of people happy."

One of the final tasks is to take some measurements and complete garden journals. Dylan has been watching the sunflowers grow in bed 3. Here's what he's found out so far:
      • June 29 more than a "hand" tall
      • July 27 26" tall (right) and 29" tall (left)
      • Aug 10 34" tall (right) & 38" tall (left)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Happy Food Pantry manager says, "They look great!"

We delivered our radishes to the local Food Pantry manager. She is looking forward to additional donations from our garden and says, "Thanks kids, these radishes will be enjoyed by our clients."

Friday, July 13, 2007

First Donation for Food Pantry

Today there was a lot going on in our garden, but the highlight was collecting 15 radishes to be delivered to the food pantry. This will be our first donation from the school garden.

Our master gardeners, Mrs. W. & Ms. R. showed the kids how to thin the carrots and cover the shoulders of the carrots by mounding up the soil. They also showed us that a few of the tomato plants have developed yellow leaves. Kate, who is new to the garden project today, works carefully to collect the leaves in her growing discard pile. "Now kids, remember, when you have a disease on your plants like this, you shouldn't compost those leaves", advises Chris.
"What's a compost pile?" asks one of the boys.
"Next time Mr. P. is here, we'll have him tell you all about what's OK to put in a compost pile".

That's ok with the kids because there is journaling and weeding to do. Alison notices that her beets have grown a lot from last time. Dylan uses a ruler to measure the sunflowers in bed #2. The one on the right is about 15 inches and the other one is just over 13 inches. Alison, who was working on her journal nearby, said; "Hey, these are just the opposite." "This sunflower on the left is the biggest, it's 21 inches tall and the other one is only 1 foot tall."


  • Both cabbage plants in bed #1 are 14" across.
  • Our tomato mulch might be working too well. With the recent rains the tomato beds are still wet, so we made a note in the mailbox notebook to hold off on watering tomatoes for awhile.
  • There were several insects noticed in the garden today, including our first grasshopper. It was invited out of the garden.
  • The tomato plants are almost taller than the supports we made last time. Now what?
  • The morning glories are finally tall enough to start climbing the fence.
After weeding, thinning and harvesting, there are several empty spots. Kids gather to decide what to plant. Radishes are a popular favorite as are bush beans & lettuce. Everyone works together to get the new seeds planted and watered. Soon, our class is done for another week. Next time we'll watch to see if these new seeds have germinated and see if there is any more to harvest to share with the food pantry.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Our first harvest

Today was a great day in the garden!

It's been 2 weeks since our students met together. Many were amazed at how much had changed. A mailbox is now in place inside the fence to hold the watering journal and the cultivators for weeding. Families have been taking a turn watering and even one of our STEP volunteers stopped by the school, saw the garden needed a drink and figured out how to make the faucets work -- thanks, Gary!

Visitors to the garden today include one big sister and her friend who stayed and helped with the work. Thanks, girls! While thinning the radish plants kids discovered that many of the radishes were ready to be eaten. Pretty soon everyone had radishes and were munching on our first harvest.

Kids found at least 5 different kinds of weeds and noted them in their journal along with a sketch. There was a lot of weeding to do, but with the help of our 7 adult volunteers, we had the beds looking good in no time. Our AmeriCorps volunteer had the kids do a role-play activity from which was designed to help kids learn about hunger in our community.

The tomatoes are looking good with flowers on most of the plants. Students helped with the drilling and hammering to make collapsable "ladders" to support the plants as they grow.

There is
good growth in one bed of
cabbages, but something is eating the other cabbage plants. Here is a photo of the leaves with lots of holes in them. Click on the photo to see it up close. The only insects our students found this week were ants.

What do YOU think is eating this plant?

You can send us a comment by clicking the link below.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Planting Day

Now, where do we start? Our last meeting before school ends in the Spring is held to prepare the beds and plant the vegetables the students have raised from seed. Seven of the beds have soil and are raked and ready to go. We have our 4-H leaders, our regular volunteers, plus Mr. C. and Mrs. S. on hand to help guide the students.

Some students start with those tomatoes and peppers already grown tall and ready to transplant.

The group decides to devote the two beds on the far end to just tomatoes, and the next one up to only peppers. Four other beds will be planted by the teams according to their garden plot designs. One bed is left over for flowers, just for fun.

Mr. P. talks with Jared about where the best place to plant the cabbages would be. They have to leave a lot of room, so maybe on the other end? Mitch joins them and they decide that cucumber would be best at the very end of the bed.

Mrs. S. helps Mitch get the sunflowers and cabbages planted at the east end of the bed, and Mrs. W. helps Dylan with his garden plot. Radishes and carrots will go in here.

Brandon works with Dylan on their bed.

Alison is headed towards her team’s bed to plant the turnips. You can tell by looking at her knees that she’s been hard at work already.

Mrs. S. helps to tie the newly transplanted tomatoes to their stakes. It’s always windy here at our school, so the stakes will help support the plants. Later, we’ll have to have something sturdier for them to grow into.

Mrs. P. & Mrs. W. stop to check the progress. The pepper plants have all been protected by plastic cups cut by kids to form and ring and remove the bottoms. The rings will help protect against cut worms.

Here kids are readying the last bed to plant with a flat of flowers purchased from a local greenhouse. Slow and steady, one shovelful at a time. It takes a lot of soil to fill an 8 x 4 foot bed.

Mr. C. supervises as Teirra and Jared are smoothing out the soil. Teirra’s older brother has stopped by and he’s helping to tamp down the edges by using the handle of the shoves.

Dylan comes to help tamp the edges and Teirra gets a turn also.

Just about perfect. What a great work crew!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cedar Beds -- Construction Day

North Country Master Gardeners, Mr. J.and Mr. P. along with Mr. C. & son arrive with power tools to begin construction of the cedar beds.

Mrs. P. has her truck full of lumber, so everyone pitches in to help carry in boards. Soon the 3rd grade hallway is filled with the wonderful aroma of fresh cedar boards.

Parent volunteer Mrs. B. and 4-H leader, Mrs. P. help guide students as they work in the hallway, or back in the classroom, transplanting tomatoes which will soon be placed out in the new garden beds.

Students help to move the tomato seedlings which are now back from the High School where

they’ve grown so huge that they have outgrown their small pots. It will be good to get them out into the garden when the beds are done.

Taking a turn with Mr. C. drilling the holes to attach the “legs” which will be sunk into the ground to stabilize the beds.

Local Area Ag Development Agent, Kevin Schoessow located a source of soil that he has soil test from. It's a mix of top soil from various sources with a sandy loam texture. Yellow River Supply (Cemstone) donates almost 8 yards of soil which were delivered in a big pile.

Kids & volunteers get busy with shovels and buckets to fill each bed.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Transplant seedlings into larger pots

Mr. P. and Mrs. W. work with students to show how to separate roots by “swishing” them in a bucket of water to remove the soil in order to see the individual plants. Each student has a chance to try it before re-planting their newly separated plant into a new pot.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Starting Tomatoes & Peppers

April 18th -- Today kids planted tomatoes & peppers. They had several varieties to choose from. Craft sticks are used to label the plants. The seedlings went into our new garden cart in the school lobby.

The North Country Master Gardener Association received a grant from the Wisconsin Master Gardeners group to support 4-H Afterschool gardening. NCMG used the funds to purchase materials for this garden cart complete with grow lights and a timer.

The cart was set-up in the front hallway by the office where families could watch the progress of the plants.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Dreams of a School Garden

Welcome to the Helping Hands Garden Project Blog!

Plans for this garden began several years ago when local Master Gardeners dreamed of establishing a garden somewhere on school property to enable kids to learn about the benefits of gardening and where their food comes from.

As the discussions were underway with administration, long before the site was chosen, the Master Gardeners came to the elementary school to teach gardening to the 4-H afterschool students.

This went on for two years. Finally this school year (2006-2007) the district has an AmeriCorps member in need of a service learning project. She has been pivotal in assisting with the afterschool programming and will take the lead to organize and develop the site for the eventual school garden.

As you will see in the coming posts the vision has become a reality. Enjoy the journey. We are reaping the rewards of the seeds that a handful of committed gardeners and Jody have sown.