Every School Should Teach Gardening Because Food is Kind of Important

Hi all, as the new school year kicks into gear I would like to introduce you to a great garden guy, Mike Podlesny. See his guest post below, and check out his website as well.

Every School Should Teach Gardening Because Food is Kind of Important
photo credit: Mike the Gardener

On our Vegetable Gardening Facebook page, I posted the question, Should Vegetable Gardening be Taught in Schools, using a meme titled, Every School Should Teach Gardening, Because Food is Kind of Important. We received some wonderful dialogue from everyone who decided to comment and make their own recommendations and suggestions as to whether or not every school should teach gardening.

School Gardening: What Everyone Agreed on

The one thing that everyone agreed on was, food is important. Not just kind of, but very important. Most people did not take that second part literally as it was thrown in as more of a snarky afterthought. The back and forth dialogue between commenters lead me to do a bit of research on school gardening and whether or not school gardening is or isn’t already playing a role in the lives of school aged children in America already.

Every School Should Teach Gardening

School Gardening: What I Was Looking for

During my research on school gardening, I uncovered a number of statistics that were fascinating to me, so I put them into an infographic (shown below), Benefits of School Garden Programs. When I started my research on whether or not every school should or already is teaching gardening, I was looking for two things. First, are schools already teaching gardening, and two, what are the beneficial effects on students that are already engaged in learning gardening in a school setting.

Every School Should Teach Gardening

School Gardening: Why It’s Important to Me

As a father of two elementary aged school children, and someone who teaches them how to grow a vegetable garden, why it is important, and the valuable lessons therein, this topic of school gardening, hits both my love for vegetable gardening and for my two boys. While I would like to believe that every parent teaches their children the importance of growing their own food, I can see that just isn’t the case, based on what I see around me in my own community.

Every School Should Teach Gardening
source: The Vegetable Gardening Show

School Gardening: My Take on the Statistics

The most surprising statistics that I uncovered was that only a little more than 26% of public schools in America have an active garden for kids and that of all the school gardens most, 91%, are geared towards kids in the 5th grade and younger. You would think that as the kids got older, and are more likely to have a better grasp on why food is important, they would take more of an interest, or at least the teachers would. According to the linked sources (shown below), that is not the case.

Every School Should Teach Gardening

What I did like about the statistics that I uncovered, are all of the positive effects gardening has on not only the kids, but the educators as well. They range from eating better, to better class participation, to the positive effects gardening has by incorporating gardening studies into existing programs such as nutrition, health and science.

School Gardening: Source Links

  1. Healthy Eaters, Strong Minds: What School Gardens Teach Kids
  2. Educators’ Perspectives Associated with School Garden Programs in Clark County, Nevada: Practices, Resources, Benefits and Barriers.
  3. 15 Gardening Facts and Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind!
  4. School Garden Programs are on the Rise in US Public Elementary Schools, but are Less Common in Schools with Economically Disadvantaged Student Populations

This brings me back to the original question. Should gardening be taught in schools? I think it should, based on the statistics of the positive effect it has on school aged children. However, what I don’t want to see is a bunch of money, (see the stat for school garden funding), simply get thrown at a school garden program and hope that it works. I would like to see more of a community/school based partnership, where schools can raise money through local community efforts, and then turn around and put on display to the community exactly what those funds are going towards, such as showing the end results of the positive effects a school garden is having on the children in their own community. If you liked this article and got something from it, please share it with your friends. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Vegetable Gardening Show on YouTube and our Vegetable Gardening Facebook page. Happy gardening!

Please share this article! Let`s get everyone gardening!

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the host of The Vegetable Gardening Show where he interviews gardening industry experts, and he is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person. Don`t forget to link up with Mike on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

Swiss Chard Recipes

Late spring and Swiss chard is still putting out leaves. We have more than we know what to do with. If you have any recipes please share.

I put a notice out to some friends on Facebook and the response was wonderful. Some that I’ve tried include the following:

1. Soup, the easiest by far. Cut a bunch of chard into ribbons, saute in garlic infused olive oil, add vegetable or chicken broth, season with salt and pepper. Serve. To take it a step or two further add any other vegetable you like including rice and potatoes.

2. Tacos. Saute some chard and add a scrambled egg to it. Serve in a corn tortilla with onions, cilantro, and hot sauce.

2. Roll-ups. Think stuffed cabbage but use Swiss chard leaves instead. The key here is to blanch the leaves for 10 seconds in boiling water to soften them, then gingerly transfer to plate drying them off with paper towel.

The picture above is Swiss chard stuffed with Dover Sole, Ricotta, Parmesan and egg. Bellissimo!


Keeping Chickens For Eggs In The Suburbs

A big thanks to guest author Zac Spade.

There are several benefits to learning to keep chickens in urban areas. It is beneficial to the garden as well as the chickens. Keeping chickens for eggs, is a healthier choice to the mass processed chicken and eggs found in large chain stores. Getting eggs created from battery hens, which are used to provide for the grocery stores, has a danger of food born illness, in addition to getting remaining antibiotics in the meat and eggs.

When you choose you’re going to be raising chickens for eggs, you should think about what you’re going to need to do and how to start. This article is to give you an overall starting point.

What Do Chickens Need?
Attention. Chickens need daily attention. Not a lot, but enough that you simply can not abandon them to get a long time without feeding and watering, and protecting them from predators. Although chickens are relatively low-maintenance, they do require time for daily care. You only need 15 to 20 minutes daily (depending on the number of chickens in your flock) for replenishing their food and water and making sure that their beddings are dry.

This means if you leave town for a few days, you need to have a plan to feed and water them while you are away. You also need to know, how they will be kept safe each evening from predators?

Future chicken husbands, need to consider all these factors, preferably before you start. There are several automated ways to take care of them in addition to the probability of having some one come and care for them, but it is better to feel ahead on this one, especially in case you are actually planning a month-long excursion to Europe.

State/Council Rules And Permits
Before starting, you would want to consider your local rules and what constraints you might have to work with. Simply put, is you keeping chickens for eggs allowed in your locality? Unfortunately, not all towns do.

Check your local regulations and ordinances regarding backyard chicken raising, you may need a permit. Note that there typically different rules for domestic and commercial set ups when it comes to different localities. In addition, you also have to find out about noise regulations especially if you plan to have roosters.

Also, check with your neighbors first in order to avoid misunderstandings and future complications regarding your new hobby. You can sway their opinions with the promise of fresh, free range, organic eggs!

Do You Have The Space?
Determine how much space you have, and how many hens you’ll need to get the egg creation you wish, knowing you’ll be able to legitimately keep chickens.

If chickens are cooped (housed) then you have to ensure that they have a place to ‘hang out’ and that it is big enough and secure from any predators. Making chickens free range is best. Chickens love to walk, and poke around on the grass. It can create some small maintenance issues, however chickens will keep the grass down where they are.

It is highly recommended that at least three square meters per bird is given, the larger the space the better. The more the chickens are able to forage, the healthier and more contented they will be.

Chickens also fertilize areas where they have been, giving a small boost to your garden. Overall they can be a healthy addition to your garden.

Is There A Minimum Number To Get Started?
Because chickens are social birds and do not fare well on their own, you should therefore have a minimum of two for starters. If your family loves eggs then it is best to have two hens per family member; this should be enough to take care of your egg requirements as soon as your chickens start laying eggs.

How Much Does It Cost?
There is a significant (but not great) investment involved, depending on your situation. However, when the chickens start laying fresh eggs the up front cost becomes negligible. The largest cost will typically be your chicken coop, however this cost can be offset if you can use an existing outbuilding, or make a coop out of readily made materials.

The Chicken Coop
You want to think about chicken house plans that can work nicely in the space you’ve got available. You can purchase chicken coops, but people find it more cost effective and helpful to build their own from plans. It is important that you use plans from experienced chicken husbands. Chickens can be quite picky about their homes.

How Many Eggs Can I Expect?
It’s possible to generally figure that three hens should offer you and norm of 2 eggs each day. Chickens usually being laying at about 16-24 weeks old, although it can takes years for some chickens.

The seasons and weather in general has a large impact on chickens and their production rates. In a cold winter, egg creation can slow down as much as 50% per hen per day.

Although if the weather is fine, then a hen can put two healthful eggs every day. Two eggs per day is the optimal production for a hen. If she is laying 3-4 this can be too much for her. So much so that if she doesn’t slow down you might want to intervene, before it affects her health.

You really are in control of your egg generation. The greater care you take of your birds, the better food source they will provide for you. Keeping chickens for eggs is beneficial both to your health and your pocket.

Grow LA Victory Garden Classes Spring 2017

The University of California Cooperative Extension is organizing workshops in various communities throughout Los Angeles County to teach residents how to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

Where: Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills
905 Loma Vista Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
** Entrance on Doheny Rd.

When: Sunday April 9, April 23, April 30, and May 14
Time: 12 Noon – 3:00PM

List of topics includes:

Week 1 (Sunday, April 9): planning, seed starting, raised beds, container gardening, plant selection (what to grow and when to grow it).

Week 2 (Sunday, April 23): tools, soil structure, soil preparation, plant nutrition, organic fertilizers, transplanting, irrigation, mulching

Week 3 (Sunday, April 30): integrated pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), organic pesticides, composting and worm composting

Week 4 (Sunday, May 14): pollination, seed saving, fruit trees, harvesting, review, and graduation

Registration must be completed through Beverly Hills Park and Recreation. See Catalog, page 28 (Note: 4 classes not 5, there’s a mistake in the catalog)

You will be confirmed registration once payment is made. See registration page here.

The cost is $15 for each class ($12 for Beverly Hills residents) or $56 for the entire series ($45 for BH residents). Those who take all 4 classes will be given a certificate of completion.

Any questions please contact:
George Pessin, Master Gardener Instructor
Email: gp305@yahoo.com
Tel: 310-779-8816

Escarole Recipes

Escarole is a winter green in the lettuce family and a close relative to endive and radicchio. Its leave are curly, slightly bitter and “meatier” than ordinary lettuce leaves.

It can be eaten raw as a part of a green salad or chopped into soups and stews.

Here are some sample recipes:

1. Straciatella with Escarole

2. Grilled Escarole with Fines Herbes Salsa Verde

3. White Bean and Escarole Soup – So many different variations of this well-known classic. This version starts with dried white beans. To save time you can also use canned.

Seed Saving and Selection

Happy New Year Gardeners!

When saving seed we first start with open pollinated varieties that when fertilized will produce offspring true-to-type meaning same as the parent. Hybrids do not produce offspring true-to-type which we why we don’t save seeds from hybrid plants.

When choosing which plants to save for seed select only the most vigorous plants; those that look healthy. Do not save seed from weak or diseased plants. Also look for characteristics that you want, it could be taste, size, or it could be color.

In the photo above the head of lettuce on the left is more deeply freckled than the head on the right. Since the colored freckles are a desired trait we will choose the head on left to save rather than the one on the right which is less colored. The name of the lettuce by the way is Forellenschluss aka Speckled Trout Back aka Freckles.

Which seeds are you going to be saving this year?

2017 UC Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program

Complete Online Application by January 9, 2017

If you enjoy gardening, and want to teach others how to garden sustainably, this may be the program for you! Please read below to learn more about the program and whether it may be a match for you.

UC Master Gardeners extend research-based information by conducting workshops and demonstrations, diagnosing plant and pest problems, speaking to community groups, educating teachers and parents at school gardens, and answering gardening questions at fairs and farmers markets as well as on our email and phone helplines. By training Master Gardener volunteers, we empower neighborhoods to create their own solutions and foster healthier gardens, communities and a sustainable environment.