Grow LA Victory Garden Classes at Greystone Mansion

Greystone Demonstration Garden

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

I am pleased to announce Greystone Mansion and Park in Beverly Hills will be one of the hosting sites for the upcoming Fall classes and yours truly will be the instructor.

We will be hosting 4 Sunday classes (12 noon – 3 PM) beginning 9/14/14. Those who take all 4 classes will be given a certificate of completion.

School Garden Report from Upstate New York

Group photo in school garden

This spring, with a donation of plants from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, and a variety of seeds donated by Page Seed Company of Greene, NY, students planted tomatoes, green peppers, basil, parsley, onions, sweet potatoes, nasturtium, string beans, strawberries, herbs, and perennial flowers.

“I can’t wait to eat the strawberries,” exclaims Asma Butt, who participated in the group since its beginning last year.

The student group Girls on the Run has also contributed to creating and maintaining vibrant gardens on the Sidney Elementary campus. In May, Girls on the Run members worked to clean up the front flower gardens and plant new flowers in areas that were overrun with grass and weeds. The front gardens were further expanded in June with a donation of perennial flowers from the Hill and Valley Garden club of Sidney.

school garden students saving bean seeds

The food-to-school movement, which seeks to bring more locally grown, fresh food into schools, is gaining popularity with students nationwide. Not only does it address a need for healthier food and eating habits, but it can also connect those needs with an exposure to science education at its most fundamental level.

With a growing interest in growing their own food and working with plants, Green Thumb members are already looking toward next year. Mackenzie Dutton, a 3rd grader and avid gardener, wants to expand the gardening opportunities at the elementary school. “I’d like to do more field trips, more nature walks, and grow more food,” Dutton remarks.

Josh Gray, teacher and garden coordinator, adds, “Our future plans include expanding the gardens, putting in some dwarf fruit trees, berry bushes, creating a Native American food garden, a medicinal garden, and a butterfly garden. We’d also like to increase our cafeteria composting program, work with classroom teachers to integrate nutrition and horticultural education into the school-day, and eventually start providing students with fresh, very local, student-grown food. And then maybe get some chickens…”

More pictures and information about the Green Thumb Growers Guild are available at http://www.sidneycsd.org/GreenThumb.aspx

students in the greenhouse

Spring Planting 2014

cucumber2

In celebration of spring let’s discuss what we’re growing this year.
Our list includes:

Chayote
Genovese Italian Basil
Edamame Soy Beans
Blue Lake Bush Bean
Black-Seeded Yard Long Pole Bean
Honey Select Corn
Rocky Top Mix Lettuce
Imperial Black Beauty Eggplant
Cayenne Pepper
Jalapeno Pepper
Nardello Sweet Pepper
Aunt Ruby’S German Green Tomato
Kelloggs Breakfast Tomato
Black Vernissage (Cherry) Tomato
Prudens Purple Tomato
Early Red Chief Tomato
Lemon Cucumber (shown above)
Mideast Prolific Cucumber
Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber (shown below)
Burgess Buttercup Winter Squash
Golden Scallopini Bush Squash
Golden Bush Zucchini
Cocozelle Bush Zucchini
Green Rocky Ford Melon
Haogen Melon
Crimson Sweet Watermelon
and Peanuts!

mexcian-sour-gherkin

Seed Companies we use:

Baker Creek
Botanical Interests
Peaceful Valley
Pinetree
Renee’s Garden
Seeds of Change

What are you growing this year?

School Garden Grant from Dole and Captain Planet Foundation

(January 29, 2014) – DOLE Fruit Bowls® and Captain Planet Foundation are teaming up to host the “DOLE Fruit Bowls & Captain Planet Foundation’s Learning Garden Challenge.” The contest will recognize schools (K-8) that have established school gardens that provide an occasion for learning, environmental stewardship and an understanding of the role that fresh fruits and vegetables play in a healthy lifestyle.

School officials, parents or volunteers involved with the existing learning gardens are invited to enter the challenge for a chance to win up to $5,000, a one-year supply of DOLE Fruit Bowls, and essential Learning Garden tools from Captain Planet Foundation, including a mobile garden cooking cart, learning garden lessons and lesson supply bins.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Captain Planet Foundation to honor environmental stewards across the United States,” said Stan Stuka, Senior Business Manager, DOLE Fruit Bowls. “We know that the best learning gardens have the power to teach students about good nutrition and how fruits and vegetables grow, even when they begin simply by planting seeds in up-cycled Dole Fruit Bowls.”

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