Category Archives: Instructional Activities

Happy New Year

I’m sure glad students will be returning next week. Peas are getting plump, broccoli heads are blossom tight, carrots are starting to push their shoulders from the ground and our lettuce patch needs thinning, not to mention all the weeding that needs to be done!

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Week 15 – Winter Harvest

Its thanksgiving all over again. Being that this the last week before winter break we are harvesting bagfuls of lettuce, arugula, spinach, swiss chard, mixed asian greens, cilantro, and a few early peas. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, etc we’ll have to wait for till after the break.

Since some schools are accessible during the break and some are not, find out what the situation is at your school and have a clear plan for watering.

Now would also be a good time to think about what to plant in the spring. See my vegetable family chart and choose what warm-season veggies to plant. We’ll be starting much of our warm-season crops indoors so plan on purchasing some peat pots and container soil as well.

Have a happy and healthy holiday. See you all in a few weeks.

Week 14 -Mixed Green Salad

Red Leaf Lettuce

Our lettuce and mixed greens are loving this weather; not too hot, not too cold. The students have been harvesting the outer leaves of all our different varieties, as well as thinning out those grown too close together to add to the mix.

We have such an abundance its time to discuss salad dressings. How do we enjoy all this edible greenery? First of course, we wash it. If you have alot, fill a sink with water, dump your greens in and let them soak for a few minutes. Drain them in a colander and either dry them off on paper towel or spin dry in a lettuce spinner.

Next lets make our salad dressing. The simplest salad dressing is olive oil, lemon and salt which can be applied right into the salad . You want just enough to coat the leaves without any pooling in the bottom of the bowl.A more elaborate dressing would be an herbal vinaigrette. The recipe is as follows: In a bowl or small jar combine 1 teaspoon ketchup with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of soy sauce. While mixing with a fork or twirling the jar, slowly add 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil depending on your taste. Then chop finely any combination of the following herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram, parsley. Add to the dressing with a dash of salt and pepper, shake well and pour over salad. Enjoy!

Week 13 – Peas

Our peas are beginning to flower. Notice the pea pod forming from within the flower.
Remember, first comes the flowers then comes the fruit, though in this case the fruit is a legume.
The legume family (Fabaceae) is the third largest family of flowering plants with more than 18,000 described species. It is surpassed in size only by the orchid family (Orchidaceae) with about 20,000 species and the sunflower family (Asteraceae) with about 24,000 species.
Beans and peanuts are also part of the legume family.

Week 12 – Happy Thanksgiving

We are thankful for our harvest of tasty greens and radishes. They will be great additions to our Thanksgiving meal. Anyone who wanted got to take home bagfuls of: lettuce, spinach, arugula, beets greens, swiss chard, mizuna, tatsoi, mustard, pak choi, cilantro and radishes.
Beet Greens

Cilantro

Asian Greens (pak choi, mizuna, mustard, tat soi, and kale)

Spinach

Swiss chard

Week 11 – Mulching

Mulching is one of the simplest and most beneficial practices you can use in the garden. Mulch is simply a protective layer of a material that is spread on top of the soil. Mulches can either be organic — such as grass clippings, straw, bark chips, and similar materials — or inorganic — such as stones, brick chips, and plastic.
Both organic and inorganic mulches have numerous benefits:
Protects the soil from erosion;
Reduces compaction from the impact of heavy rains;
Conserves moisture, reducing the need for frequent waterings;
Maintains a more even soil temperature;
Prevents weed growth;
Keeps fruits and vegetables clean;
Keeps feet clean, allowing access to garden even when damp;
Provides a “finished” look to the garden.

Organic mulches also improve the condition of the soil. As these mulches slowly decompose, they provide organic matter which helps keep the soil loose. This improves root growth, increases the infiltration of water, and also improves the water-holding capacity of the soil. Organic matter is a source of plant nutrients and provides an ideal environment for earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms.

One method of mulching is to lay down a layer of newspaper and then cover with compost. One can do this on pathways as well as between rows in our vegetable beds. Compost can then be turned under for our spring planting providing an excellent source of plant nutrients.

Week 10 – Pests (The Dreaded Cabbage Worm)

It had to happen sooner or later, though I was hoping it would be later. A pest has found our broccoli and cabbage. This is what the damage looks like

cabbage worm damage

This is the culprit, the dreaded cabbage worm

cabbage worm

And this is the cure-
BT, short for Bacillus thuringiensis, is a beneficial bacteria that can also be found under the trade names, Dipel and Thuricide. BTcan be used as an organic pesticide by mixing with water and applied to the underside of the plant leaves. Several applications are advised. The following diagram courtesy of Abbott Laboratories shows BT in action.