Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ms. Timmerman's 5th Graders Harvest their Lettuce

Yesterday Ms. Timmerman's 5th graders harvested their bed of lettuce which they had planted in February. It was a huge amount of lettuce! The lettuce was an assortment of heirloom Tennis Ball Lettuce from Monticello and romaine lettuce. Tennis ball lettuce was one of Thomas Jefferson's favorite lettuce varieties. We harvested now to avoid having it bolt as the weather is getting warm.

The harvesters did a great job of pulling it out by the roots. They also found a few radishes.

The class made a salad which they shared with another class. There was still plenty for them to take home!

Ms. Connors' 2nd Graders Celebrate Earth Day

Yesterday Ms. Connor's 2nd graders celebrated Earth Day. They planted in peat pots that they took home, planted seeds and seedlings in their salsa bed and composted.

Ms. Carolyn, a volunteer, helped the children plant in the pots. She explained that the peat pots were biodegradable. The children chose seeds from our selection of donated seeds.

Next, the children planted seeds and seedlings in the newly constructed raised bed. 2nd graders plant salsa gardens in the spring so they planted jalapeno peppers, tomatoes and onion seeds. They also planted chives and marigolds which are companion plants for tomatoes.

Finally, the students put vegetable and fruit scraps and paper in the compost bin. We discussed that composting is a way to help the environment. Instead of throwing out the scraps we compost them and eventually will add the compost to the garden.

How to take care of the plants in the peat pots:
- Put the pot on a plate or bowl.
- Keep the pot wet
- Ideally keep the pot in a warm spot
- Cover with saran wrap or plastic until the seeds spout
- Remove the plastic
- Keep the pot in a sunny area inside
- Before transplanting, first harden off by having plant outside (not in direct sun) for a few hours each day
- When planting, get bottom wet and tear it off so roots will go into ground; also tear off top of pot to soil line
- Plant so all of pot is covered by soil and water.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ms. Chaides' 4th Graders Plant in Recycled Pots

Yesterday Ms. Chaides' 4th graders planted seeds in recycled pots in honor of Earth Day. They chose from biodegradable peat pots and cardboard egg cartons.  Some of the favorite seeds were carrots, watermelons, pumpkins and tomatoes.

The procedure:
1) Pick a pot
2) Put in seedling mix
3) Choose seeds. The kids chose from seeds donated by Baker Creek, Seed Savers Exchange, Renee's, High Mowing Seeds and Turtle Tree.
4) Plant seed twice its diameter.
5) Water gently

At home:
1) Water so soil and pot are wet
2) Place on plate or in bowl to keep bottom moist and protect counter,
3) Cover with saran wrap if wished to speed up germination. Remove wrap upon germination
4) Keep in warm spot. When germinated, keep in bright area.
5) Transplant when 3 sets of leaves. Move to larger pots before if plants are too crowded and all have germinated.
 6) Harden off before planting outside, i.e, put seedlings outside for a few hours each day for about 4 days-place in shade-this gets them used to their new environment.
7) Before planting, cut off bottom and any of pot above soil. Plant pot at level of soil or just underneath so all of pot is covered. Cutting off  bottom will allow roots to grow down.
8) If using egg cartons, make large hole in bottom before planting.

Another alternative: plant pot directly in ground or larger pot before seeds germinate. If doing so, cut off bottom. Make sure to keep seeds moist.

They also planted some onion seeds in the 4th grade pizza garden.

Ms. Palo's Class Plants in the Pizza Garden

Last week Ms. Palo's 4th graders added some basil seedlings and some arugula seeds to the 4th grade pizza garden. There is already basil and onions growing that Ms. Chaides' class planted as well as tomatoes and kale.

The students also planted seeds in pots make from recycled cardboard that they will take home and then transplant into gardens or pots. The pots will decompose or decay with the moisture. The children placed seedling mix in the pots.

Care for the seedlings: keep pots and soil moist, place pot on plate or in bowl to keep soil moist from the bottom up, if pot is dry  that will wick away moisture from the soil. If you want to speed up germination, cover the pot with saran wrap for a hothouse effect until the seeds germinate.  When the seeds have three sets of leaves, harden off before transplanting outside. That means, for about 3 days, keep outside in shade for increasing amounts of time for the plant to get used to the new environment. (This obviously isn't necessary if you're keeping the plant inside. You'll want to plant it in another pot, though). Before transplanting, take off or tear the bottom of the pot so the roots will grow down.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Ms. Gardner's Class Plants in the Salsa Garden

On March 15 Ms. Gardner's 2nd graders planted in their salsa bed. They planted cilantro seeds, onion and garlic bulbs and a tomato seedling.  The tomato seedling is a sun gold, a variety of a cherry tomato. Cherry tomatoes do well in our climate zone.

Ms. Marie showed the children how to plant a tomato seedling so it grows well: take off the bottom 1/3 leaves and then bury the plant up to the new bottom leaves. The places where the leaves were growing, as well as the tiny hairs on the stem will become roots and the plant will be stronger than it would have been if it'd been planted without removing the leaves.

Before planting the students harvested some romaine lettuce that they planted several months ago. They made a small salad later in the day. They also used trowels to turn the soil in the bed and mix in compost.

The bed is right outside of the classroom so the children will be able to water and watch the plants grow.

Harvesting romaine lettuce

Planting a tomato seedling

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ms. Fein's 2nd Graders Plant in the Salsa Garden

Today Ms. Fein's 2nd graders planted in the Salsa Garden.  We introduced the lesson in the classroom. Several children knew that salsa means sauce in Spanish.  We also discussed the ingredients in salsa. We're planting tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, onion and garlic.

Ms. Marie showed the children a good way to plant a tomato seedling to make a stronger plant-take off the bottom 1/3 or 1/2 stems and leaves and flowers and then plant the seedling up to the current bottom branch. All of the hairs on the stem and the places where the other leaves and branches were will become roots.  The children helped plant the seedlings.

Children also planted seeds of cilantro and jalapeno pepper, onion starts and some garlic. They learned that you plant the seed twice as deep as the seed is wide. In the case of these seeds they barely cover them.

We put tomato cages around the plants to keep the branches and fruit off of the ground. Tomorrow we'll put a cover on top of the seeds to keep them warmer and help them germinate more quickly. Thanks to Ms. Ashley for helping.

After planting the children enjoyed a snack of salsa and tortilla chips. This food was generously donated by Gelson's Market, one of our community sponsors.  When the children harvest the vegetables as 3rd graders they will make their own salsa!

Planting a Sun Gold tomato seedling

Planting jalapeno pepper seeds donated by Renee's Garden Seeds

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Ms. Soo's 1st Graders Plant in Their Salad Garden

This week Ms. Soo's 1st graders planted in their raised bed. The bed is right by their classroom so they'll be able to watch the seeds germinate and grow.

Before planting the children used trowels to turn the soil. We had added some Armstrong's Organic Compost the day before. They learned that trowels are small and shovels are big.

The children planted heirloom lettuce seeds and carrot seeds that were donated to the school by Seed Savers Exchange and Renee's Garden.  They planted orange and purple carrots. The bed already contains some arugula that was self seeded from last year's plants.

The lettuce seeds and carrot seeds are very tiny. The children sprinkled them on the soil and then barely covered them. The rule for planting depth is to plant twice the diameter of the seed.