School Garden News – Pennsylvania

Students Reap Rewards From Garden Program

“The children are really excited about the fact they grew something. They put it in the garden and it actually flourished,” Schwartz said. The students celebrated the fruits of their labors at a back-to-school night Sept. 12.

“I think it was a wonderful program. The students learned a lot about science, but they also learned a lot about helping others,” said Kimberly A. Fetter, All Saints principal.

Complete article can be found here

School Garden News – United Nations

U.N. Garden Program Rolls into Schools

Students at two city school soon will share tips with students around the world on how to grow Swiss chard in a box, through a United Nations program called Growing Connection.

To demonstrate how that works, Robert Patterson, a senior liaison from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Tuesday brought EarthBox container gardens from Washington, D.C., to Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School and Benjamin Jepson School. He walked into Barnard hauling behind him an EarthBox, a plastic container garden with wheels, that overflowed with ruby-veined Swiss chard.
Complete article can be found here

For more info on the The Growing Connection:
http://www.ahs.org/youth_gardening/growing_connection.htm

Week 3 – Amending Beds, Laying Out Rows

Why do we need to amend the beds, why do we need to turn the soil?” I hear this alot. Invariably its from a student in the midst of said activity who deservedly wants a break. The answer is, we amend the beds to add nutrients to the soil. Healthy soil means healthy plants. There is an old addage that states feed the soil, not the plant.

We turn the soil to mix the amendments with our existing soil and to aerate it as well. Aerating the soil is crucial for root development. Stick your pointer finger into an aerated bed and observe how easily it penetrates the surface. Now try to stick that same finger into the hard ground between the beds and notice how difficult it is to penetrate, if you can even do it at all. Now imagine that your finger is the root of a plant. In what environment do you think it will grow best. Correct, the aerated bed.

Note: Once a bed is turned it should never be walked on. Walking on the beds compacts the soil.

Once the beds are amended the next step is laying out rows. We lay out rows to plot where our seeds will be sown. Simply tie string to two row ends where you want your seeds to be planted. Row ends can be: splintered pieces from an old wooden box, plastic spoons, or, my favorite, tongue depressors from the nurses office.

Space your rows according to what plant you are growing. Read the back of the seed packet for this info.

School Garden News – South Africa

A Dream Garden Turns into Reality
“MAKHOARANE School, the winners of last year’s City Parks’ My Dream Park competition, has seen its dry and dusty playgrounds turned into green oasis, with newly planted trees, a water feature and new swings and slides.”
Complete article can be found here

Video – How to Amend a Raised Bed

Week 2 – Soil Amendments

Setting up a classroom, learning all new names and faces, last week was way too short to even think about gardening. No worries, we’ll get to it this week without missing a beat.

First off, review Week 1 (see below), especially the part about tool safety, then read on…

For those new to gardening you should have your location scoped out and permission from the principal granted. Focus next on obtaining raised beds or containers. Gardeners.com offers a 3 ft square raised bed made of black plastic now on sale for $35.00 (that’s about as low of a price as I’ve seen anywhere.) See it here

For those with existing raised beds now would be a good time to clear the beds, add your amendments and begin turning the soil. Physically this will be our hardest job all year. It would be a good idea if everyone took turns to lessen the burden.

More about amendments…
Definition of Soil Amendment – Material that is added to the soil for the purpose of improving the physical and biological characteristics of the soil including improving the tilth, porosity, aeration, aggregation, water holding potential, or to increase the organic content, ion exchange capacity and microbial viability. Washington State Department of Ecology

Choosing a soil amendment

Where Can You Get Cheap Natural Fertilizers and Soil Amendments?

School Garden News – Australia

Garden Path to Health
“Purple carrots, black tomatoes and a trout called Elvis have children at Southmoor Primary School in Moorabbin lining up early for classes to tend their school garden. It’s all part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, designed to encourage fearless food attitudes in a convenience-bent generation.”

Complete article Can be found here:
http://www.theage.com.au/news/epicure/garden-path-to-health/2007/09/10/1189276602136.html