Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's Growing in the Grow Cart?

Herbs, the fourth grade students planted a wonderful indoor herb garden in the grow cart. While the cold Wisconsin weather keeps us from enjoying a walk through the garden. An indoor herb garden will liven up the halls. While the beautiful green plants are appealing to the eye, the smell of fresh herbs will perk up the nose.

The students planted two groups, the first coming from our school gardens where they grew through out the summer. These herb plants were split and some moved indoors. The students had an enjoyable evening learning how to split plants, replant them, and the difference between outdoor and indoor (sterile) potting soil. This group included: mint, chocolate mint, italian (flat leaf) parsley, thyme, sage, and basil. What a blast it will be to harvest the herbs for recipes during the fall and winter months.

The second group was planted from seed. We can't wait to watch them grow, in the first week we have already gotten wonderful sprouts. Once the plants become large enough the students will replant them in individual conatiners to take home and use. Winter will be much tastier with the addition of these incredible herbs. The students also planted some zinnias to have an even more colorful fall.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Notes from the Garden Harvest

During our garden clean up we encountered a few interesting items notable to students and adults alike. While we composted most of the inedible plant parts, not all made it in the bin. The tomato plants, for one, quickly found there way into the trash. Having been hit hard by blight due to a warm and very wet summer, we made sure the diseased plants did not go into the compost. It is important not to compost diseased plants as many disease causing fungi can survive through the winter.
We also found a stranger in the garden... Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus carota, also called wild carrot. Though it is edible just like the domesticated carrot, it becomes too woody for consumption as it matures. Weeds are not wanted in any garden but in this case it offered us a wonderful teaching tool. Over the summer students were encouraged to try many new herbs, vegetables, and fruits from the garden. Some students became incredibly adventurous eating almost anything they found. Enthusiasm and curiosity may be a wonderful thing but can lead to dangers. Our edible friend, Daucus carota, though not particularly tasting, is not dangerous. Poison hemlock, Conium maculatum, an invasive plant that has spread across the northern states, can be deadly. This is why it is important not eat any wild plants unless you are an expert in discerning their species. While this is worth while advice for any student, it is wise to heed by all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Garden Harvest and Clean Up

With the cold nights that were on the way the 4th Grade students spent part of their day harvesting and cleaning up the garden. The weather may have been cold on the hands but it was with warm smiles that many of the students picked most of the remaining vegetables. They enjoyed digging up the potatoes, carrots, radishes, and beets. Picking beans, tomatoes, peppers, and so much more. A total of 67 lbs. and 9 oz. of vegetables were harvested from the garden today alone. We are still calculating the total amount of vegetables harvested through the year. Much of this went back into the school lunch program while the remainder was delivered to Indianhead Community Action Agency. With help from our wonderful volunteers and excited students the day was a great success.

The students got an incredible opportunity to taste many of the vegetables harvested. The carrots, peppers, kohlrabi, and lemon cucumbers were a great hit. Some of the more adventurous students even tried the carrot tops, which are often added to salads. They also took the time to stop and smell the herbs, and try some of them as well. The ground cherries quickly became the star of the show and were fairly well picked clean by the end of the day. A few students stayed behind during their recess period to help finish weighing the vegetables.