Garden Tour: September 2013

Never have I gone so long without a post—never have I had a busier first six weeks of school.  (A friend gently pointed out I always say that.)  Anyway, welcome back, dear readers.  Let’s stroll around and catch up.

Starting at the junior high garden, the umbrellas were installed at the mosaic tables, providing much needed shade in these warm school months.  We got good ones–sturdy and rated for wind.

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I met with two “Garden Beneficials” on a Saturday to dig up comfrey and broccoli at Mary’s house to transplant to school.  (Gardens grow community!)

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How how I love these ladies! (Laural and Mary)

Grant money paid for this all-weather chalkboard.  Domingo hung it for us behind the outdoor kitchen prep island so that we can write recipes, illustrate lesson plans, and more!

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Once again applications went out to the fifth grade students, and I picked a new crop of 10 ambassadors.

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Four varieties of fresh figs were donated by the Farm Stand in Escondido for a taste test at recess.

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For our harvest of the month (September—tomatoes), we harvested, made salsa, learned tomato trivia, looked at pictures of heirlooms, and read children’s books.  My “garden beneficials” group continue to bless us all with their time and commitment to teaching with me in the garden.

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One week I gave two tours: one to the United Methodist Women, another to the Ramona Garden Club.  Both were big garden lovefests.

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I lalso led a weekend fieldtrip to Camp Stevens as part of our Farm to School program.  Camp Stevens has an amazing organic farm, garden and outdoor education program—an incredible resource in Julian.  We played “Jays vs. Chickadees” under the oak trees and then went out to the field to make our own salsa on the spot.  You took a chip, went and grabbed a cherry tomato off the vine, then brought it back and piled on onions, peppers, cucumbers that Rita was furiously chopping up.  Repeat.

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After helping to harvest the spaghetti squash, we headed back to the main camp for their “seasonal supper” to which they invite the larger community.

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All the bins back at school got turned and compost sifted to make room for this year’s lunchtime scraps. Ambassadors are posted at the trashcans at lunch to help kids put their leftovers in the right bucket, and then third grade helpers come out to dump the scraps, add straw, add rainwater, and then return the buckets to the lunch area.

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And finally, I’ve enjoyed working with my son’s 2/3 class every Friday for a half hour of “garden time”—a new thing I’m trying with his teacher.  We are learning songs, memorizing plant names, eating what’s ready, going on sensory walks and drawing in our journals.  My son’s class is a very sweet group of kids who absolutely love the garden, and I look forward to our time together each week.

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Harvest of the Month: Tomatoes

It’s official–it’s on the marquee.

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Planted in June, these tomatoes will be ripening right on time.  For the month of September, we will be harvesting and eating all of our garden-grown beauties.

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Arranged by school board member Mrs. Tellam, the Farm Stand in Escondido donated a box of Carolina Golds and Caro Rich that we took out to recess…….

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…so that the Garden Ambassadors could run a taste test.  Our principal/superintendent Mr. Ogden is interacting with the kids, encouraging them to have a taste and exclaiming how delicious the tomatoes are!

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The ambassadors always take a poll:  thumbs up or thumbs down.  (Only one reported thumbs down.)  They also asked the “tomato challenge”: letting kids know tomatoes don’t come from Italy (a common guess!) but from Central and South America.

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We had some left over, so we put them in the front office so that kids, parents and staff could take one or two home.

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Our brand new lunch menu has been featuring gorgeous local heirloom tomatoes so the hope is that all of this education will ultimately make kids more receptive to/excited about them when they see them on the salad bar.  Yum!

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The end-of-school wrap-up, kinda

School’s out!  A moment celebrated every year by the “waving to the busses” pulling out for the last time until mid-August.

And so, things were also finishing up in the garden, kinda.

I did a bunch of make-up garden lessons (on peas!  surprise!) and came to love the book “First Peas to the Table” by Susan Grigsby about Thomas Jefferson’s annual contest with his neighbors.

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We did a lot of mulberry eating.

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My senior ambassadors worked on a mosaic stepping stone that will stay in the garden, acknowledging their two years of service.

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On the second day of summer, we held our (belated) annual tea party for Administrative Professionals day.  I tried to organize it on the actual holiday in May, or thereabouts, but discovered that stealing away all seven of our administrative staff at the same time might  inadventently make the school crumble in on itself.  These wonderful people make it happen every day, and I love that we’re on our fourth year of celebrating them in the garden.

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The new PLUS team (junior high leadership) also came out for a 2-hour service project during the first week of summer, helping to spread woodchips, deadhead herbs and flowers, tear out peas, put in tomatoes and squash, mulch, tidy up the breast cancer awareness ribbon garden, and water.

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This is what the ribbon looks like when the daffodil and tulips are out of season. It needs a lot of tidying to keep the shape and outline, made with red bark and white stones.

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Ta-dah! What were peas are now tomatoes, the Harvest of the Month for August and September.

And finally, I set up the summer watering schedule for our volunteer families, made exactly 100% easier this year by the fact that my friend and fellow Master Gardener put in timed irrigation to ALL of our edibles.  Now we just have to water the ornamentals a couple times a week with rainwater.  Thank you dear Mary!

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