WOW!! The 2019 Spring Children’s Garden produced a lot of carrots this year. They were not ready to harvest back in April when the first graders came to harvest their lettuce, spinach and radishes so they were left to grow until the end of the school year. These were harvested, cleaned up and taken to East Avenue Primary School the day before the last day of school, May 23. The students were super excited about getting a bag of carrots to take home. Thanks to all the Master Gardeners who helped with the Children’s Garden this spring.
Eleven classes of eager first-graders walked to the Children’s Garden on February 4 for planting day. Working with a Master Gardener volunteer, each student had the opportunity to plant lettuce, spinach, radish, and carrot seeds in their designated garden plot. The twenty-minute period was very busy as the children carefully placed seeds in the spaces of the planting grids used for square-foot gardening. Arline greeted each group of students and explained the tasks to be completed. MG volunteers Jacky, Cheryl, Shirley, Carolyn P., Robbie, Julie, Jennifer, Nancy, Thomas, and Pam along with Extension Agent Janie helped the students with planting. Extension Intern Geri assisted where needed with distribution of seeds and photographing the action. It was a glorious sunny day for planting!
To get the garden ready for planting there will be a work day on Saturday, January 16 at the Children’s Garden to weed, add compost and clean up around the raised beds, put in the string grid for square-foot gardening, and perhaps add another layer of mulch around the beds.
With the end of 2015 in plain sight, it’s time to introduce seeds to first graders at East Avenue Primary. This will be the second year to plant only in the spring with students at the Children’s Garden. This year there are only eleven first grade classes. That means that not all the raised beds will be planted by students. The row of beds closest to the Eggleston House probably will be planted with something different by Master Gardener volunteers.
There are five different sessions with the first graders; all sessions are scheduled on Thursdays. Volunteers will be needed for classroom sessions and garden sessions. In addition to the scheduled dates there are alternate dates provided in case there should be bad weather or an unexpected change in schedule of other school activities.
beginning at 9 a.m. (Alternate date is January 28.) Using the overhead projector, the MG volunteer will show the students what the inside of a seed looks like. A lima bean experiment jar will be left with each class so students can see the development of the seeds. Each teacher will be given a master copy of “Inside a Seed” booklet for students to use as they explore the seeds’ development. The student-designed plant markers will be picked up by the MG volunteer.
Session #3 is planting seeds at the Children’s Garden on February 4 beginning at noon. (Alternate date is February 11.) Two classes will arrive every twenty minutes to plant seeds for 2 root crops (radishes, carrots) and 2 leaf crops (lettuce, spinach). Each of the four teams in a class will work with one MG volunteer to plant on one-half of a raised bed which will be designated with the student names on the egg-shaped marker.
Session #4 is a visit to the garden on March 3. (Alternate date is March 10.) Beginning at noon two classes arrive every twenty minutes to check the progress/growth of the different crops, notice the difference in the leaves, and observe any variations between the beds.
Session #5 is harvesting the produce from the garden on April 28. (Alternate date is May 5.) Beginning at noon two classes arrive every twenty minutes to harvest the vegetables. Each team of students will work with one MG volunteer. Produce will be divided among students at the garden to take home.
To get the garden ready for planting there will be a work day on Saturday, January 16 at the Children’s Garden to weed, add compost and clean up around the raised beds, put in the string grid for square-foot gardening, and perhaps add another layer of mulch around the beds. We’ll probably start around 10 a.m. Please bring your garden tools. Alternate date for work day is Saturday, January 23.
The students are always very excited to learn about seeds and then to plant and watch the changes that take place.
As October was in its last week, the weather forecasters were talking about heavy rains coming into our part of Texas. It had been hot and dry for so long that this seemed exciting that we would be getting some much needed rain. The pumpkin vines were starting to look very limp so on a drizzly Thursday morning I stopped by and decided it was time to harvest those pumpkins. Earlier in the month it seemed that there might actually be enough pumpkins so that each first grade class could have one. However, there are always changes in a garden and the most noticeable change was that some of the pumpkins had gotten overripe and were no longer usable. About seven pumpkins of various sizes were in good enough condition to be harvested and earn a trip to East Avenue Primary. I left the pumpkins for the school to use in decorating for their Fall Festival to be held the following week. I emailed the principal and assistant principal about the pumpkin delivery and received thank-you notes from both of them.
There were two or three pumpkins that were still green so I had left them in the garden. The rains did come as predicted. When November rolled around, I decided it was time to remove those very sad-looking pumpkin vines. An hour on two different afternoons was all it took for the compost pile to grow a bit larger. I wondered as I worked if Charlie Brown had visited the garden because I never did find those pumpkins that I had left a few weeks earlier!
Only zinnias remain in two beds. The bright cheerful colors of the small blooms have brought smiles to many faces during the last few months. Several MG volunteers have mentioned that they would like to harvest some seeds from those plants as they mature. Two volunteer tomato plants are doing quite well. With the pumpkin vines removed the garden is looking cleaner as it prepares to rest now for a while.
It has been suggested that the raised beds should perhaps be amended soon with mushroom compost and some fertilizer so they will be ready for first graders to plant lettuce, spinach, radishes, and carrots in early February. The GMG membership will be notified by email regarding a workday that will be scheduled for that purpose. At that time the rest of the zinnias will also be removed. Now I just need to prepare my own garden beds for the colder weather!
The old African adage that it takes a village to raise a child has a similar meaning for Master Gardener volunteers. On Tuesday, September 22 we proved that it takes a village of Master Gardener volunteers to build and plant a raised bed! The response of volunteers who helped with landscaping around the sign at the Children's Garden that morning and on days prior was truly amazing. Prior to the workday, David had contacted the City regarding location of water lines. Jim J. and Gail marked off the space where the trench should be dug and then David took care of the trenching. Jim and Gail installed the drip irrigation line and then it was time for other MG volunteers to help. In two hours on the workday, a raised bed was constructed, filled with soil, and planted and mulched. Carl and MG students Mike and Carolyn did a great job constructing the raised bed. Cheryl, Jennifer, Shirley, Dee, Nancy S. and Arline helped with filling the bed with garden soil and potting soil that were mixed thoroughly before the space became home for Pride of Barbados, butterfly weed, bulbine, yarrow, and Mexican heather. The plants were provided by Jennifer, Cheryl, Arline, and Fran from their own gardens. Jury duty kept Fran from participating on Tuesday.
The other raised beds were also tidied up during the work session. The monstrous sunflower plants were removed, zinnias were deadheaded, and the tomato plant was removed. Someone was counting pumpkins some of which were becoming quite sizable and turning orange. I am not aware of what will be done with the pumpkins but if there are enough to share with each of the eleven first-grade classes, I think that would be a real treat for those kids to have a pumpkin grown in their own garden. Also the first grade teachers should be encouraged to take their students on a walking field trip to see the pumpkin patch.
Nancy F. stopped by on Tuesday morning as well and mentioned that she was really impressed with the beauty of the garden. In the flurry of activity and my going after more spike nails, I didn't realize until later that she had not stayed to help. Thanks for stopping and sharing your words of encouragement, Nancy! And thanks to our photographers of the morning, Jennifer and Cheryl, who photographed the busy morning's activity.