Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Positive Vibrations in the Garden!

Happy Friday Everyone!
Everything seems to be responding really well to the sunny Florida weather and altered watering method! The spinach is succulent, the newly transplanted green peppers are absorbing every ray of sunlight, and the potato shoots are gigantic! Today Mrs. Davis' 5th grade class same out and we watered everything in preparation for the weekend and finally planted the zucchini. The second graders came out to do their observations of the garden, and the kindergarteners of Mrs. King's class came out for the first time. We also put more worms into the compost so get ready for the best soil mixture St. Petersburg has ever seen. The soil that the worms have been living in is now really full of worm fertilizer, so we will be adding it to our beds next week for extra nutrients! Don't forget the Environmental Film Festival is premiering "The Garden", as well as a short presentation on The Edible Peace Patch Saturday at Miller Auditorium on Eckerd College Campus at 7:00 pm sharp!!! See everyone next week at the Edible Peace Patch.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The garden lives!

Both Flora and Friends of the Edible Peach Patch, enjoyed the strengthening sun overhead today! Zucchini and squash were finally put in the ground along side the newly transplanted peppers. These young vegetables were moved from greenhouse to the ground with the help of Ms. Bates fifth grade class! It sure is starting to feel alive out there! Each day new sprouts and shouts arise in the garden, as plants and students explore the growing world. The Black Beauty Eggplants have even shown their heads. The count right now is at three- who knows how many the season will produce?

It's easy to see from the smiles, that everyone is really enjoying each day here in the garden. Just as the germinating seeds are shedding their cost, the children at Lakewood Elementary open up more each day. Just today, I had one boy graciously offer up the last pepper to transplant. Even both musty old Crape Myrtles are boasting leaves! I think we have gotten the watering down and things are looking up, great job everyone!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Art in the Garden!

Today was an eventful day with a lot of classes!

In the early morning we had the 5th graders help us with the much needed weeding and watering of the garden. We also helped the 3rd graders with their data collection project. We even had a special guest today! Ariel, from a local radio station interested in our project, came out to visit us and learn more about the Edible Peace Patch. She plans to return in the future to see our progress.

The second shift transplanted some of the larger looseleaf lettuce growing in the greenhouse to their respective spot in the garden's raised beds. They also had Mrs. Hartman's 2nd grade class come out and do their curriculum for the week; observations of the garden (sight, touch, taste, and smell, among some other things).

The afternoon shift had Lakewood's art teacher bring out a class of students who made some ceramic signs to decorate the garden with depicting various plants!

Mrs. Gjeldum came out with her kindergarten class for the first time and we did our usual introduction to the garden - start in a circle with their name and favorite vegetable, break into groups and show them all of the garden, and then reform a circle and let us know what they learned! We then finished the day with a little more watering, given the hot day, and we will most likely give them a break from watering until Friday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our plants are hungry!

If the plants could talk to us right now, they would ask us for some of that manure! We have a huge pile of it, so thats the plan from here on out, to feed the plants! We are going to layer it on top, with care not to hurt the small plants. We are then going to make sure to sprinkle the water on top. If we water to much, the nutrients will sink down, and our roots are still near the surface! Whew, so much to learn! :)

The leaves have been turning yellow, and not because of too much or too little water, it is because they need nutrients. Not all of them though, the corn, squash and beans have been growing at faster rates because they have the sand to spread their roots into versus the plants in the beds. Also our sunflowers hidden behind the greenhouse are grower better than the rest, which leads us to a conclusion that the sand is helping them, the sand has some good after all!

Everyday at the garden is a chance to learn something new, although some of us have had some experience with home gardens or volunteering at organic farms, we have never done this before. I for one am thankful for the support and help of Professor Curtis. He has the knowledge that us students lack, and without that our plants may have never gotten the proper care.

So a recap of what happened in the garden today. Watermelon was planted by the early shift, as well as Rosemary. The afternoon shift tended to the marigolds, clearing mulch out of the way and putting some more seeds in there. Marigolds do not take that long to come up, the reason why you transplant them into your garden is to allow their smell to ward off pests from the start.

The smell of the marigolds is still strong at the Edible Peach Patch as another peaceful day was had by all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Beautiful Day to Start the Week!

Today was not only beautiful but also very eventful! Everything looks fabulous, more potatoes sprouted over the weekend, the Three Sisters are flourishing, we found some tiny eggplant sprouts and the sunflowers are getting HUGE! The marigolds are hanging in there, and it looks like some sunflowers and squash are being munched on but we'll just keep a close eye on them. Every shift today got a lot of work done. In the morning, Dylan, Erica, Jess, Kaylie and Teresa had two classes. They watered the beds with the 5th graders and weeded with the 2nd grade EBD class. The two water melon beds were sprinkled with a mixture 1:1:1 of sand, soil, and horse manure, sort of an experiment to see if the seedlings aren't too fragile. Since the pumpkins, gourds, and brussel sprouts were all planted in mounds, it made it difficult for water to seep in. The morning shift smoothed them out so that the water could go right to the roots where it was needed instead of running off to the sides.

During the 11-1 shift, Kaylie, Alex and Erica fixed the messy piles of soil, horse manure, and sand and picked up some trash around the picnic tables. We had Mrs Wester's 2nd grade class come out and take some data/observations on certain beds. They were extremely attentive and well behaved and did a great job measuring the seedlings and beds and taking the temperature of the air and soil. Then they helped us transplant healthy broccoli seedlings into the places where some had died (fortunately it was only a few). The kids were super gentle with the plants and made an obvious effort to walk delicately around the garden. Then they shared the task of watering our newly transplanted broccoli plants. We had a great time with them!

In the afternoon Lauren, Kathy, and Alex worked on getting the kinks out of the hose and watered a little more. The second grade class (Mrs Pavlowski's I believe) didn't come out for some reason but instead we weeded around the pumpkins and gourds with three 5th graders who came out during P.E. The one on one time was wonderful, we got to really know our kids and were able to answer their specific questions. My 5th grader Jamie told me he'd rather be out in the garden than at P.E.! All of them seemed to love the task of weeding and didn't mind getting a little dirty. The three expressed a lot of interest and excitement in seeing some of their favorite vegetables in their immature stages. Near the end of the day we discovered on the bare branches of the bigger myrtle tree a definite, healthy sprout! It was a glorious beginning to a new week!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday in the Garden

The garden is nearly planted. We still must transplant peppers from the greenhouse and tomatoes. We also have squash to plant, seeds to buy this weekend. The sage is up. The crape myrtles have both shown leaves now and appear to be quite healthy. The long awaited water melons, planted in Winter Term, are also finally showing their calyx.

The wildflowers -- which turned out to be sunflowers and marigolds as well as others -- are taking shape quickly. The sunflowers have entered a new phase of growth, doubling in size this week and starting their way skyward. The herb bed has many thing sprouting, although the chives looked a little dry. Out at the far end, the Three Sisters have exploded, large beans, shooting corn, squash.

The marigolds were all slammed pretty hard by the frost a few weeks ago and still work toward recovery, but 2/3 of them seem to have survived. We have carrots coming up, two kinds, and the snap peas are growing at an alarming rate. All over the garden the promise of April's harvest breaks through the surface and starts its steady collection of solar energy.

It has been a crazy two weeks, three. Lakewood teachers like to bring their students out and we like to see them. We are all also learning how to grow a garden. Growing a garden is as much about community and relationships as it is about plants and food. We work in staggered shifts,sometimes many of us, sometimes just a few.

Our eyes are turned in two directions at once. We must watch the these sacred seeds, nurture and cultivate and care for and respect. We must do the same for the children. Always watching, always on notice. What's more, we must watch each other's work and learn from each others' mistakes and cover each others' backs and make sure our own community is solid. All of this for just three credits.

Mere mortals would shrink from the task. We embrace it. For all of the challenges and early mornings and long meetings and misunderstandings, the garden stands as a thing of beauty already; its presence marks a change of revolutionary proportions. In my own neighborhood, a child who attends Lakewood describes what she considers to be her garden to her friend. "I have an organic garden at my school," she says proudly. "We're growing food."

Yes we are, Jasmine, yes we are. And the food is also growing us.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday afternoon in the garden!

The garden is doing excellent now that we have stopped watering as much. Although we got some good advice from a long time farmer, to be on our toes because our plants are going to be sucking up more water soon, they are pumps!

You can stand at the entrance to the garden now, and as you look towards the end, plants are everywhere! Both the eckerd and lakewood students are feeling proud as we watch our garden grow.

The morning shifts planted beets today, I have never grown beets before, so this is very exciting. The afternoon shift dug up holes along the fence, and filled them in with a mixture of soil and manure, this our pre-k pumpkin patch! The pre-k students grew the pumpkins in their classroom, from their pumpkin seeds at halloween time.

Gourds were also planted in these holes. We are hoping to train the gourds to go up the fence.

There was not alot of extra time today, but as we left the garden today we found time to take a minute and appreciate it. Things have not been perfect, but thats ok because I know we can all agree that this garden is thriving.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rain, rain go away

Today was a pretty busy day. We had a lot of classes come out. Bates, Dorsey, Pavlowski, Hartman, and a 4th grade class (sorry, didn't catch teacher's name) came out. When Dorsey's class and the 4th grade class came out, it started to rain. We went into Dorsey's class and allowed them to observe different vegetables we will be harvesting in the garden. Bates' class planted mint in the herb garden. It stopped raining for Pavlowski's class so we showed them how everything has grown in the garden. We discussed how we observe things that are in the garden by using your senses.

We should be getting a shed pretty soon! Some kids have been wandering into our closet and writing on our dry erase board. I couldn't blame them, it's like a toy for them. We haven't been watering as much and the plants have been growing like crazy. We will be done planting the majority of seeds by the end of the month.

One of the kids in the 2nd grade class came up and gave me some husk from the corn and thought of these when she handed them to me. These would be fun to make with the kids:


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today was a really busy day. We started the morning off with a 5th grade class who helped us move the manure pile away from the entrance to the garden so that it's not in the way. Some of us also took a group of kids and mixed some of the manure with sand and soil and covered the empty beds with the mixture to give the soil already in them a little nutrient boost.

The rest of us also took groups and spread out around the garden and weeded. The grass is really starting to come up through the mulch so we tried to get that under control as much as possible today. The kids were a huge help and they also got to see how much everything has grown since the last time they came out. Now that they see progress week to week, they're getting even more excited about the garden. After the 5th graders left, we had a 3rd grade class who hadn't been out to visit the garden yet. We split them up into small groups and introduced them to the garden. We also weeded the grass out of the mulched areas for a little while with them too.

During the second shift we took the recycling truck from campus and got a few loads of mulch to spread around the garden. We're hoping that by continuing to spread the mulch over the growing grass, it will eventually stop growing there. A second grade class came out as well and they continued to help us weed. The wind really picked up as the day continued, so we decided not to spread mulch with the kids since the wind would get dirt in everyone's eyes. The second graders had a lot of fun seeing the progress of the garden. While we worked, we discussed the theme of the week - observation - and made observations about the weeding and other parts of the garden. They practiced using all five senses to observe things in the garden. We continued to spread more mulch through the garden after they left and had a first grade class come out to visit as well. All in all, it was a very productive day. We got a lot accomplished in the garden and worked with 4 classes who all learned a lot.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday February 17, 2009

Today was a great day in the garden. It started out cool, but it rose to about seventy degrees by the middle of the day. The Sun was out all day and the plants got a lot of light. Two classes visited the garden. The garden is looking great. Some of the plants are really doing well. It is amazing to see how many different plants are starting to come up. There are sprouts from about twelve different edible fruits and vegetables, and the sunflowers, marigolds, and butterfly garden are flourishing (except for the marigolds that were hit hard by this late frost). In my opinion the garden is already a success.

Mrs. Davis's fifth grade class came out in the morning. They helped us plant Kohirabi and Kale. These were two new vegetables for many of the kids. It will be great to see there reaction when the plants finally grow. Mrs. Early's second grade class came out a little after lunch. The word for the day for the second graders was observe. We split up into four groups, and discussed what it means to observe using our five senses. We then moved between four stations in the garden and used our five senses to make our own scientific observations. The kids wrote about textures of leaves and plants. We smelled the flowers and the compost pile, and the second graders drew pictures of what they saw. I think everyone learned a lot today, I know I did.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday, February 16th: A New Week with a Pleasant Surprise

At last Thursday's meeting, we came to the conclusion that we may have been over-watering. We adjusted our schedule, gave the garden a few days off from water, and WAH-LAH! Everything really shot up over the weekend. The corn, squash, beans, cabbage, lettuce, snap peas, and spinach are all starting to pop up. We had a fifth grade class come out this morning, so we gave the garden a little water after it's break, and also planted some okra in seed trays which we will transplant out with the kids in two to three weeks. Although the garden is really starting to bloom, the students always seem to find their way to the compost pile. The fact that some left over vegetables, horse manure, and worms can make soil really amazes the kids.
We had a first grade class come out for their first time, so we gave them the grand tour of the garden. They planted some radishes in containers which we transplanted into our garden. This is an experiment for the class, because they grew one container with sunlight, and the other container in the dark. They will be monitoring the growth of the radishes, and keeping track of how they do.
During the last shift, more manure was delivered to the peace patch, which we will sprinkle on top of our beds to give our seedlings a little extra nitrogen to help them grow in our sandy, Florida soil. We feel confident about our garden and look forward to watching everything grow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

End of the Second Week of Spring Term

We have again successfully finished another week and things are looking great in our garden! The morning crew planted the rest of our carrots, Little Finger carrots, with Mrs. Davis' class. They also weeded the raised beds with Ms. Demings class. One of the topics of the week for the garden was interdependence, and they spent some time telling the kids about energy flow.

The second shift replanted some of the larger broccoli to larger pots and moved them outside of the greenhouse to make room for other plants and to see if they do ok outside. Ms. Early's 2nd grade class came out and they talked about interdependence in the garden and split up into two groups who visited the compost and greenhouse and then the garden itself.

The last shift of the day got to meet Laura and Lisa Armson, a mother and daughter who have donated 25 pairs of children's gloves, many hand tools, 3 watering cans, and 3 trellises. Professor Curtis showed them around the garden and explained more about our project. Thank you Armsons very much for your donations! We also planted strawberries and more watermelon, as some didn't sprout. We also replanted the Brussels sprout plant into the herb garden since we checked the roots and noticed that it didn't have any more room to grow. We also made sure to water a little bit, but not too much, as we are testing to see if we are over watering.

Monday is half day for the students so only the first two shifts will be out. The third shift will be going to get more manure to give our plants a little boost! But, thankfully, everything is growing really well so far! The sunflowers are growing larger every day, our broccoli and carrots look great, and our corn/pole bean/squash mixture are growing great together!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Fog

It was pretty misty and foggy out today but the weather was still okay for the kids to come out. We planted cabbage in three of the beds. Bates's 5th grade class and Dorsey's 2nd grade class came out for their sessions. The damp weather has kept our plants a little more moist than we want, but we'd rather over water than under water!

With the second graders we geared their lesson on interdependence and an introduction of the garden. We taught them about composting and vermiculture, the use of red worms in compost. They absolutely loved the worms. They loved that they could feel them wiggling in their little hands. It was their first time out there so they were really excited.

Image: http://www.wormcomposting.ca/images/redworms2.jpg

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Today was a pretty busy day, but it went really well. We started off the morning with Mr. Johnson's 5th grade class. This was their first time to come out to the garden so we split them into groups and gave them a quick tour and taught them about a specific aspect of the garden. After that, we all came back together in one group to share what we had learned. The kids learned a lot and were really eager to come back and help us work on the garden. We also had a 3rd grade class that came out to the garden for the first time and we did a similar activity with them. We also discussed the concepts of energy and interdependence and how they pertain to our garden.
The broccoli starters were looking really big, so we decided we should go ahead and transplant them. They are now in beds 2, 4, and 6 next to the turnips and sugar snap peas. Everyone's really excited about them because they were our first major transplant. We hope that they start to really take off now that they're in the ground.
The 11-1 shift was pretty slow for a while until the 2nd graders came out. They hadn't been out in a while so we showed them how everything is growing and they helped us plant basil and aerate the soil. They were really excited about the basil and being able to see "their" plants grow from the beginning. The afternoon was spent watering with the 1st graders since we hadn't watered all day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Kinder-gardners!

Today was a very busy day! Lots of classes came out today, including two kindergarten classes. Mrs. Davis' class came out early in the morning to do some work in the garden. They are putting in so much work, we really enjoy having them out there.

The cucumber seeds were nowhere to be found, so sadly they didn't get to plant. Silly Kayla had them in her bag! Its so great to have all these classes coming out, we really enjoy teaching them all that we know, from compost to photosynthesis. The last shift of the day ended up planting the cucumber seeds, and then their group of kindergartner's got to water them! They enjoyed their tour around the garden, but they were mostly focused on the compost pile. They have heard that there are worms underneath! Its quite the trick trying to find one for them haha.

Oh and good news, there is more watermelon coming up. We thought it might have taken a hard hit from the cold, but it pulled through. Our corn did not fair so well, but thats alright! We planted some more along with the squash and pole beans, so everything is going good.

One last thing! The Lakewood students took part in a contest to name the garden, both lakewood and eckerd kids got to vote on what they liked best. Congratulations to our winner, the garden will now be known as "The Eckerd College Edible Peace Patch Garden Project at Lakewood Elementary."

Our Fifteen Minutes...

Ron Matus of the St. Pete Times wrote a real nice story this past Sunday about a trend in schoolyard gardening in which he featured our project.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Feb. 9th

Today was very sunny and warm; a nice break from the unusual cold we've been experiencing! In the morning, the fifth graders came out and discussed energy and photosynthesis with Jessica, Dylan, Teresa, Erica and Kaylie. The second graders also came out and got were introduced to the garden and various aspects. We had to do a lot of watering today because of the heat, we watered in the morning and in the afternoon. The EBD second grade class did not come out unfortunately because they had a substitute.

During the 11-1 shift, Mrs Wester's second grade class came out and Dylan, Erica, Kaylie and Alex talked with them about interdependence, what it means and how it relates to our garden. All the kids were really receptive and understood why the garden needs us and why we need to garden. They helped us aerate the soil for planting in beds 10, 11, and 12. Alex brought some food scraps for the compost and we turned it and watered it a little bit. The second graders also helped us water.

From 1-3 it was just Alex, Kathy, and Lauren. We evaluated the health of our marigolds, removed the dead marigolds, and prepared the spaces for replanting. Another second grade class came out and helped us replant the marigolds and water them, after we had little discussion about interdependence. We sat down with them and helped them write their observations in their journals. All in all, it was a beautiful day in the garden and lots of kids were able to get out and enjoy it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

End of the First Week of Spring Term

The first week of the new term ended today with positive attitudes, a feeling of success, and warmer weather! Today we planted New Zealand Spinach and Sugar Snap Peas in the raised beds. In the traditional Native American garden we replanted some corn, in case our previously planted corn doesn't make it because of this weeks cold weather, as well as pole beans and squash.
We also outlined the edge of the Native American garden with rocks, to show both that you should be careful when stepping into that area, as well as for aesthetic value. We may end up adding some more with the extra rocks that we still have, and will no doubt continue to find!

Two classes came out today; a surprise class at the end of the second shift who took a tour of the garden and took some notes, and the pre-kindergardeners that helped us aerate the dirt a couple weeks ago. Since they didn't bring their gloves this time, we showed them all the plants that have begun to sprout, showed them how the compost works, and had them taste some chives! They were really excited to be out there and requested to see the wheelbarrow next time!

Our use of the white board and information sheets in our temporary "shed" have already become an important component to our success here at Lakewood. We've been communicating to each other between different shifts and different days through these mechanisms and it has worked out great this week! This way everyone knows what classes are coming out that day, what to do with them, and what has to be planted. Already things are running very smoothly and we couldn't wish for anything more!

Monday is going to be a big day with 5 classes coming out. We've got lots of planting to do, and we may even move the broccoli from starters to beds. We're excited to have the kids help!