An optional activity during our Animals 2×2 unit is hatching eggs. I had done it a few times in years past when a parent had purchased the eggs and brought in the incubator, but I had never done it on … Continue reading
On the complexity scale, caring for live animals is the most complex endeavor. I would love to have a worm farm, chicken coop, aquaponics system, and even a few goats at our school, but realistically, I am not ready to … Continue reading
Now that we’ve dedicated ourselves to providing training to volunteers, I feel like we’ve got to get our act together. I’ve been working on training materials and curriculum guides to help. I put together this Garden Calendar, so that we … Continue reading
Last week we were celebrating the final touches on our garden and planting day with the kids. I made a decision to integrate garden time into my weekly center experiences for the kids to ensure that my students had regular … Continue reading
Last we week we were finally able to get our students out to the gardens to plant! It was a fun, exhausting day and we were so relieved to have gotten this far. Amazingly, our garden grew. A volunteer surprised … Continue reading
Up to this point, we had done all of the work on the garden outside of the school day, relying on volunteers. We had families and kids out there, but it was time to work on integration within the school day.
Now that we had beds ready and irrigation system in place, we called out to teachers to see who was interested in working with their classes in the garden. We ended up with a few brave teachers mostly from the lower grade levels (shout out to kindergarten teachers as all six of us wanted to participate) and divided up the beds like this.
I recommend taking small groups out a time if you can. I ended up taking out my entire class. The kids had fun for sure and the experience was important for them regardless, but with small groups it is less hectic and you can get more meaningful learning from the experience, integrate more mindful practices. Some schools do a planting day, when they get all the kids out at the same time to get things in the ground which is nice because it supports a school culture of gardening. If you invite parents to this experience, you would have enough help to make it work.
We had started this project in January and so were rushing to get a spring planting season in. It was important to us to have a few harvests and experiences with our new garden before our school was rebuilt. I think we also wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do it. Spring plantings can be difficult because it is hard to get a harvest and close down the gardens with the kids before the school year comes to a close. You probably don’t want to start your spring planting until there is no longer a threat of frost. Even here in the hot Arizona desert, we had nights of frost through February. Ideally, I would like to start breaking down the garden by April, composting dead plants and sending home anything viable, then tilling and covering the plots with cardboard for the summer. I talk more about planting seasons and schedules in a later post.
For teacher appreciation I asked for seedlings and seeds to plant in our new garden. My amazing and generous parents came through. Home Depot also gave us over $100 in donations. Thank you Home Depot! We had enough to plant with all of the grade levels and we had many donation of seedlings, which was important because it would have taken too long to start everything from seed. Of course, we could have tried sprouting from seed in the classroom starting way back in January, but we didn’t. Next year.
Once things were planted, I felt like we could finally take a deep breath.
We had built the garden, trained the staff and invited teachers to participate with their classes, and got things in the ground. My next challenge was to figure out how to get my own students out to the gardens regularly and to encourage other teachers to get their students out to the garden as well.
More to come next week!
To read my previous posts about starting our school garden click on the image below.
Before we got the kids out there planting, and somewhere between putting in new beds and irrigation, an opportunity came up to go to a two day workshop at ASU on school gardening. I put my name in the hat … Continue reading
Once we had the garden cleared of grass and defined areas for our beds, we were ready to set up the irrigation.
Thankfully, the parent volunteer that had established the gardens years ago had done the hard part of getting the main pipes in the ground and working with our district irrigation technician to connect it to the main line and a timer.
We just had to connect our spaghetti lines to the water pipes and put them where we wanted them. Problem one, we were out of money. Problem two, we had no idea how to do it. I still don’t know how to work with the water system. Our irrigation tech gave me the manual, but I can’t seem to absorb the information.
The day before we were set to have volunteers arrive I watched a youtube video on how to put in spaghetti lines. The morning of I ran to our local hardware store to purchase new lines (I was using my own money at this point to fill in all these little purchases).
A very nice worker came to help and he asked what size tubing we needed. Well, that part wasn’t in the youtube video! I had no idea there were different sizes and different rates of letting water out and different tools to cut and poke the lines, and oh, no.
So I showed up to school empty handed and not sure what we were going to do, and not sure if we had exhausted all of our volunteers by this point, when this amazing dad arrived and saved the day. He purchased the lines and installed them all.
Thank goodness for miracles. We had water.
Next week: Time to plant with the kids!
Click on the montage below to go back in time to previous posts about getting started, getting rid of grass, creating defined beds, and preventing the grass from coming back.
Welcome back! This week we’ll focus on how we made chalkboard paint to paint the concrete walls surrounding our garden area. Making chalkboards was a fun job. After everything else we had tackled, it was an easy, quick job. A … Continue reading
Welcome back to my gardening adventure! We started with two feet of grass and ended last week using cinder block as a way to define garden beds within the area. This week we had to figure out how we were … Continue reading