Bird Song – Free eBook

I have released my first eBook, Bird Song (BG Digital Publishing, 2013). As a special promotion for the holidays the book will be available as a free download for 5 days at the Amazon Kindle Store from December 11, 2013 – December 15, 2013.

Bird Song is a heartwarming story for all ages. Two birds, one with a broken wing, the other blind, must fly together on their migratory journey south. They encounter various adventures along the way and learn first-hand the power of song.

The promotion is a special gift for parents and children who enjoy quality reading time together.

After 12/15, the Bird Song eBook will be available for only $3.99.

To download your copy of Bird Song please visit, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GZNOMRS

Bird Song Cover Image

Central Nutrition Center Breaks Ground on New Hoop House

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Local farmers, students, teachers and district staff all came together on October 19th to construct the district’s newest Hoop House. As a part of the district’s “Farm-to-School” initiative, produce grown in the new garden will be harvested for school cafeterias. The goal of this event was to educate students and the community on the benefits of good nutrition as well as creating a prolonged growing season with the construction of a hoop house.

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The event was organized by the Shelby County School Department of Nutrition Services in Memphis, Tennessee. For more information or volunteer opportunities contact the Central Nutrition Center at (901) 416-5550.

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Keeping a School Garden Journal

A School Garden journal is an invaluable tool, not only for the success of your garden but also for the myriad of experiments that can be done in tandem.

This is my entry for 10/5/13:

Bed 1 (B1) – Fava Beans germinated (broke through the soil), 1-2 days old. Germination took 10 days.

B2 – Lettuce germinated, about 3 days old. Germination took 7 days.

B3 – Beets and Swiss Chard both germinated. Germination took 7 days.

B4 – Aphids and eggs found beneath swiss chard leaves planted last year. Washed them off with a jet of water. See photo.

B5 – Something ate many of our Brassica seedlings (broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, bok choy). Not snails or slugs, no nub left over, no slimy trail. Will replant with floating row cover.

B6 – Peas, Carrots, Celeriac, Cilantro, Parsley sowed seeds 9/28, nothing yet.

Harvesting: last of the pole beans, swiss chard, kale, eggplant, Mexican sour gherkins, oregano, thyme, & chives.

Saved dried pods of pole green beans. Seeds were planted 5/15. Seed-to-seed was 19 weeks. Next year I want to get my sweet peas in earlier. If I want to plant them the third week in September (lets say, September 23rd), and I want to save seeds from the pole beans again, when should I plant the beans? This is one reason why we keep a journal. Can you think of some others?

Maybe this will help –
1. How Does My Garden Grow? Writing in Science Field Journals

2. School Garden Curricula

aphids and eggs

The yellow elliptical dots are the eggs. The black dots at top are the aphids

Planning and Planting Your Winter Garden

This is the layout for the Hamilton High School fall/winter 2013 school garden. What’s yours?

Bed 1 – Fava Beans
We will follow this with corn in the spring.

fava beans

Fava beans

Bed 2 – Lettuce
We will broadcast lettuce seeds creating a lettuce “patch” rather than conventional rows.

lettuce patch

Lettuce patch

Bed 3 – Beets, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Red Sorrel
Red Sorrel is a perennial. We will plant at the southern end of the bed.

red sorrel

Red sorrel

Bed 4 – Potatoes, Dandelion greens, Garlic, Shallots.
Garlic and shallots will take the longest. We will plant those at the northern end of the bed.

shallots

Shallots

Bed 5 – Broccoli, Kale, Cauliflower, Choy Sum (red stem), Cabbage, Radishes, Arugula
All the Brassicas are grouped together. Makes crop rotation a breeze.

radishes

Radishes

Bed 6 – Peas, Carrots, Celeriac, Cilantro, Parsley
Other than peas all are in the same family, again facilitating crop rotation. Celeriac is a close relative of celery.

pea seedling

Pea germination

Herb Bed – Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, Tarragon, Horse Radish, Ginger, Fennel, Cumin.
Other than fennel and cumin all perennials.

sage

Sage

Harvesting Swiss chard and Kale

Beans are done; corn is done. Squash plants all have powdery mildew and it appears to be spreading to the cucumbers and tomatoes. Welcome to the dog days of summer.

Usually during this time we not only harvest the remains of our summer crop but we also look forward to the fall and the new season of cool-weather crops. I am perusing seed catalogs as we speak.

Two plants that you must consider this fall are Swiss chard and Kale.

swiss chard and kale

Both are highly nutritious and extremely high yielding. You will get more yearly produce from one square foot of swiss chard than you will from any other vegetable. Period.

Lacinato Kale aka Tuscan Cabbage, Cavolo Nero, Dinosaur Kale or Black Tuscan Palm, is an heirloom that can grow to 5-6 ft tall under ideal conditions. Like Swiss chard it is a biennial, which means it goes to seed every two years.

Kale leaves can reach 18” long so giving the plant plenty of room is key.

We planted both of these in the early fall and both are still producing weekly harvests, even through the dog days of summer.

Guest Gardening Segment on the Marie Osmond Show

Dear School Garden Weekly Members:
Yours truly is going to be on TV sharing simple gardening projects for children and parents. I’m doing a guest segment on The Marie Osmond Show, Monday, 7/22, at 12 Noon, on the Hallmark Channel.

I’ll post a computer link to the episode once it airs.

Thanks, tell your friends.

George Pessin
LA County Master Gardener

National School Garden Network Brings School Garden Professionals Together

Santa Cruz, CA – At last year’s National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, school garden professionals convened to create a national network for supporting regional school garden programs. Through sharing resources and engaging in dialogue, the newly formed National School Garden Network (NSGN) strives to eliminate redundancy and help facilitate regional-based school garden programs. The Network is calling organizations and individuals that support multiple school garden programs at a regional, school district, or state level to join the online forum.

“There is no one way to create and sustain school gardens”, states Life Lab Outreach Director John Fisher, founding member of the NSGN. “The recipe for a successful school garden program varies from region to region, but organizations often have similar needs such as acquiring funding, creating policy, training teachers, and creating valid assessment tools. Our Network’s goal is to create an ongoing dialogue to share best practices.”

School garden support organizations can visit www.nationalschoolgardennetwork.org and join the  online forum or browse webinar topics related to school garden program development. Additionally,
national and regional conferences are listed to encourage school garden support professionals to meet face-to-face.

“Managing school garden programs is a challenge, but I believe creating a support community for its professionals is the key to sustainment,” says Sam Ullery, school garden specialist at the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education. “My experience supporting more than 90 school gardens in the District of Columbia is successful, in part, because I’ve had a network to rely on. I look forward to participating in this new forum where I can expand my network and share what I’ve learned with others.”

The National School Garden Network is comprised of the following Advisory Committee organizations from across the nation:

  • Life Lab – Santa Cruz, CA (John Fisher)
  • UC Davis School Gardening Program – Davis, CA (Jeri Ohmart)
  • DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education School Garden Program – Washington, DC (Sam Ullery)
  • Community Groundworks – Madison, Wisconsin (Nathan Larson)
  • New Jersey Farm to School (Beth Feehan)
  • Whitson’s Culinary Group – New York (Bill Whitcomb)
  • Edible Schoolyard Project – Berkeley, CA (Emilie Gioia)
  • National Farm to School Network (Mary Stein)

Visit www.nationalschoolgardennetwork.org to learn more.