Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Experiencing the Garden

Friday, March 26, 2010

It was a warm sunny day in the garden. The hot rays from the sun gave the kids lots of energy, and we had a lot of fun being out in the garden. First, McDevitt’s kindergartners visited the garden. We continued to discuss how to make observations of nature using all of the senses: taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell. Last week, they smelled the different herbs in our garden and tasted the different types of plants that are being grown in our garden. This week, the kids focused on using their sense of hearing and were asked to make a sound map of the garden. Everyone sat and listened to what was going on around them and then drew the sounds they heard, with each individual sound represented by a dynamic line or picture. We then explored our sense of touch by rolling down the hill next to the garden. After reaching the bottom, the kids were asked to describe the different textures they felt while rolling. Was the ground hard or soft? cold or warm? soft or rough?

Next, Mobley’s second grade class joined us in the garden. They were asked to hunt for bugs in the garden. When a bug was found we had them write down what type of bug, a brief description of it, were it was located, and if it is helpful or detrimental to the life of the garden. After finding a number of different species of bugs, they chose one of them to explore more in depth. The kids drew a picture of the bug of their choice after closely observing it and then listed at least three adaptations the species for living in the garden. For example, an adaptation in lady bugs would be their wings which allow them to fly from plant to plant in order to find food.

Hall’s kindergarten class was the third to visit the garden. First, we had them separate into groups and identify the different kinds of bugs and plants in the garden. They looked at sunflowers, okra, radishes, kale, lady bugs, bees, and many other living organisms. We reviewed the important factors needed for the plants to grow in the garden: sun, water, and soil. The kids then made a food web of the garden. Everyone had to name a bug or a plant in the garden and was then connected by a long piece of yarn. Once everyone had a hold of the yarn, it showed the kids a map of how all the plants and bugs are connected in the garden. This showed the kids that all the organisms in the garden are connected and therefore, if something fails in our garden it affects everything else in the garden.

The last class of the day was Smith’s first grader class. The kids were asked to help up water all the plant in the garden so that they would be able to grow big and strong. The kids really enjoyed watering the plants. Overall, it was a beautiful, successful and fun day in the garden on this Friday before spring break.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday Delight

It had been three long weeks. Coming around the corner from the portable classroom I could see the garden full of activity. Ms. Burke's second graders. They have planted beans and watered and watched them grow. They have tasted lettuce and even radishes and they have learned about the benefits of soils and sunlight. I was delighted to come upon my Eckerd students busy sharing the garden and all of its experiences with the Lakewood kids.
Ms. Burke's second graders are a lovely bunch of kids. When they saw me with the camera they mugged and posed. You can see them next to Kaylie's new sign (she made several and they look great!). I promised them that I would post them here and let their teacher know, so that they could see how they were a part of the garden and the way we talk about the garden to the rest of the world. So here are several photos...

And what an amazing set of changes. Everywhere volunteer vegetables are popping up amongst our own intended plants. Squash in amongst the broccoli, tomatoes, too. Sweet potato, popping up everywhere. More than we realized when we started replanting in January. Everywhere, everything that was going to come up has begun to and in many places is beginning to take on some substance. More days like today, more rain and sun and attention from the students and I would risk saying we might just have a decent harvest in May.

The most exciting discovery for me today was when I peaked into the top of the pineapple plants and discovered that two of them are fruiting! You can see one pictured below, just beginning what Martha called a paisley pattern.

We hesistated to water, guessing that rain would come later and now as I sit here completing the blog at the end of the day, the sky has opened in a torrential downpour and water is running everywhere.

The zucchini sprouts, these speckled leaves, will be happy by the addition of water. Delighted.

It was good to be back in the Peace Patch today. There's a lot growing there.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sun and seeds

This morning was so pleasant and beautiful that I was a bit reluctant to leave after my short shift. The beds were pretty moist from the past rains and there was not much to do but weed, thin, and plant, which is exactly what we did. Weeding is a never ending task that must be tackled in sections, so in between beds and around the Three sisters I pulled out some tenacious grasses and other weeds. Then there was the sad task of thinning the turnips and radishes, pulling out the struggling little plants so that there would be more space for the roots to flourish into tasty edibles. Next time I think we should plant less seeds so that fewer crowded seedlings have to die.

The herb spiral has been sprouting every day, especially cilantro, as well as the flowers planted around that same bed. Sophia and I added the remainder herb seedlings, those that survived despite a few floods and cold weather, to the spiral. Finally, we planted some fast growing veggies, green beans and radishes, in bed 6 (this should be verified in the logbook, I may have gotten my numbers mixed up). Every time I go out into the garden it looks a little different; a little greener, a bit fuller, and most definitely more beautiful. The children wonder at its subtle transformations too, and together we are experiencing the cycle of life in our little peace patch.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Brief Episode of Garden Anarchy

Today Dylan, Alyssa, and my teaching skills and patience were put to the test. Our first group of kids, Ms. Strickland’s kindergarten class, was without their regular teacher. They came out of their portable yelling, laughing, and not in their normal structured line. We attempted to read a book about plant growth and butterfly development but their interest was clearly somewhere else. Thinking on our feet, we decided to play a game about the interconnectedness of the garden. We formed a circle and used a ball of string to create an ecosystem/food-web. The children seemed to like this and I am always surprised at how enthusiastic all the children are to answer the questions posed by Eckerd student. With Ms. Stoll’s first grade class we observed changes in the garden and played the food-web game.

I am so grateful to have this opportunity to interact with kids and gain valuable teaching experience. I was reminded during the day’s lessons that I need to work on how I relate to the kids, improve my discipline skills, and not get so disappointed if a lesson does not go over perfectly. This is a learning experience for the Eckerd students as much as it is for the Lakewood classes.

As far as the actual garden goes as of Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.:
-Radishes are booming, I predict some will be ready to eat next week
-Most second-grade beans are 3-5 inches tall
-Collards are looking leafy and delicious
-The compost is looking darker, richer, and lovelier by the minute
-Aphids are going to town on some sunflower plants
-Ladybugs are going to town on said aphids
-The pineapple tops we planted have bit the dust, they will be replaced though
-The dill plant is turning into a dill tree!
-All sprouts are ready for some hot, humid, and sunny Florida weather

Monday, March 22, 2010

           A Dose of Shining Rays

While the plants were busy absorbing the sun's shining rays, the kindergardeners were having a blast examining the bugs living in the garden. They identified whether the bugs were good or bad and then drew their pictures. They also enjoyed a game we played called pollinators, which is basically sharks and minnows but with plants and bees instead. The object of the game was for the bees to tag the plants, which in return made the plants into bees. Screams and laughter filled the garden as the children chased each other, learning about the relationship between insects and flowers.

The next class that came out today was Mrs. Early's second graders. We put together a scavenger hunt to help the kids identify some of the plants growing in the garden. A few of the plants they found included parsley, basil, sunflowers, watermelon, kale, and okra. Their senses were put into action by examining the plants using taste, sight, touch and smell. The aloe was a huge hit when they learned that  they could rub it on their skin and use it as a remedy  for sun burns.

We also noticed that the pineapple was not doing too well, but the beans that they planted were sprouting and growing tall. 

All in all, today was a beautiful day and the plants are full of life and are beginning to sprout into beautiful grown plants. The cold weather may have been harsh lately, but with the love and spirit of the children they are seeming to pull through this unfortunate weather without a problem!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oh What a Beautiful day!

Today was an exponentially beautiful day! The cold has sort of stunted the growth of our crops, but as we begin to see life come out of the raw soil I can a light at the end of the rainy season. The kindergardeners planted watermelon about a month ago and now they are just starting to grow, though very slowly I see progress. Each monday afternoon the kindergardeners come walking out to us with innocent looks on their faces just asking to be filled with knowledge. With the sun shining anything is possible! The sunflowers may look dead but there are some signs of colorful life exploding into the gray and brown wintery garden. We are hoping more sunflowers will grow to give the garden the brilliant aesthetics it had last semester. Friday mornings are quite peaceful as we worked to pull weeds and water the slightly struggling new plants. All will be well though as the temperatures are promised to rise from now on out. YAY!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tomatoes, Bugs and Water

Although a bit overcast, today was another good day in the garden. We started off the morning with Mrs. Frey’s third grade EBD class. Earlier this semester, the class planted eggplants. Unfortunately, due to torrential rain and wind that knocked over the tray, the seeds had not sprouted. So, we decided to plant new plants and perform an experiment with the class that would illustrate what plants need to grow. Each student got two tomato starters. One would be grown outside and the other will be grown inside. While planting each starter, the kids got to take soil from the compost. They were really excited to see all the bugs! They also were very excited to have two plants of their own. Throughout the rest of the semester, the class will track the progress of each plant and compare the plants in the shed to those outside. It looks like it will be a great experiment and everyone is excited about it!

After the third grade class came out, the fifth grade EBD class joined us in the garden. Originally we had planned on doing a worksheet with the class. Unfortunately, due to behavior problems, we were unable to do the worksheet and tried to water. Watering was fun for the kids however, behavioral problems interfered and the class had to go in early.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bugs Galore!!

Once again, a beautiful day in the garden, and after last weeks plentiful rains the garden is looking more productive than ever. The radishes are bursting out of the ground, the beans are growing ever taller, broadening their heart shaped leaves, and the lettuce has gone bananas!Our kindergartners were eager to get into the garden and we obliged with another scavenger hunt activity. This weeks scavenger hunt was a twist on last weeks plant-hunt exchanging bugs for plants, in a fun and instructive hunt for bugs. The clover is flowering on the edges of the garden prompting an abundance of bees flying from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen. The stigma surrounding bees was approached delicately with the students, and we explained the benefits of pollinators such as bees for the garden. . The first graders joined in this activity with a little more artistic flare, each brandishing their own clipboard and pencil. At the end of the day the students had discovered, drawn, identified and learned a bit about the benefits or harms of each of the bugs. The class ended with a demonstration in planting a sprouted onion brought from home. The class left with a stronger sense of the insect community that inhabits our humble garden and the important interactions that take place at the minuscule level of the ladybugs and bees.


W.E. Johns once said “one of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides”. Looking at the garden today, one can’t help but be filled with excitement for what’s to come. In every bed there are several little plants poking up with promises of a bountiful harvest. The broccoli and the tomatoes that were transplanted last week look really healthy. The lettuce is growing at a rapid rate, and small seedlings are popping up in the herb spiral. I cannot wait to watch these beautiful little plants as they grow over the next several months. I am especially excited to see all of the flowers in the pollinator garden as well as in the trench as they start to bloom in the upcoming weeks. The anticipation that goes along with watching these little plants slowly grow inch by inch is almost too much to handle, but it will make the delicious vegetables all the more enjoyable upon this year’s harvest.
There were several amaranth volunteers popping up in the herb bed as well as the pollinator beds. Because these plants grow to be so large and dominating in the beds, we transplanted the eleven volunteers between the trench and the fence. As these plants grow and spread out their beautiful maroon leaves, it will add something aesthetically appealing to be enjoyed both from inside the garden as well as from the street. With all things in the garden well organized and well cared for, all signs point toward a very successful semester at the Peace Patch

Friday, March 12, 2010

The torrential downpour of this morning meant that my shift at the garden did not end up happening. Normally, this much rain would be great for the plants. Normally, here in Florida it is hot by now and you can't over water. This year, not so. We have had to water very carefully; trying not to over water by only watering in the first shift or skipping it altogether if the soil is still damp. Even with our very careful planning, some of the plants are turning yellow, a sign that they might be getting too much water. Hopefully, this rain will be okay. Maybe it will be a bright and sunny Saturday and the excess water will be soaked up. If not, we will have to exercise more care this week, but I know we can do it. With this wonderful group of Eckerd volunteers and all the enthusiastic elementary schoolers, all will be well in the garden, rain or no rain!

Does anyone know a sunshine dance?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


The wind was blowing so hard today it blew a tray of starters across the garden. After we carefully picked up the infant plants and placed them back in the tray, we swiftly moved all of the starters into the shed to protect them from the coming storms. Dark clouds engulfed the sky and persistent wind and sprinkling rain seemed to offer a warning to stay inside. However, we still anticipated the classes to come out so we prepared scavenger hunts for them to do in the garden. As we were writing up the clues for the scavenger hunt, a Bald Eagle confidently soared through the ruthless winds and landed in a radio tower nearby.
The first class came out and the scavenger hunt went well, but they decided to go in early because it began to rain and the winds persisted. Our next class walked by the garden and the teacher told us they were not coming out because they were instructed to stay inside, as there was a tornado warning in the area. She also told us that we should get inside as well. Realizing we were potentially facing a tornado we promptly locked up the shed and headed inside.
Aside from the lack of instruction in the garden today, we did see positive signs in the beds. I counted 11 watermelon sprouts, and at least one in each of the watermelon mounds. We also noticed a sunflower sprout, which is hopeful because we thought that the ones we had planted might have become dormant. Hopefully the storms will not uproot any of the small plants that are starting to grow. Tomorrow's group will have likely have some renovations to do.
We have had our fill of trifles so far in the garden: frost, constant cold weather, and now tornadoes. I speak for the whole group of gardeners when I say I hope these trying conditions will be over soon and we will be greeted once again with the hospitable Florida growing climate we are used to.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Morale Increases With Temperature

Brilliant morning and afternoon in the garden today. The greatly anticipated warmth finally arrived late morning, and hopefully it is here to stay.
Alex and I tended to the seedlings and transplanted them into a more permanent home among familiar faces.

Marigolds and calendula seeds were planted among the sunflower skeletons, so hopefully new life will start to appear in the bordering trenches soon.
The great cycle continues as the greens bolt and sunflower leaves shrivel, but cilantro sprouts were spotted this afternoon and loving words will hopefully coax the pineapple to take root and flourish.

I had the privilege of working with the Ms. Ruck's 5th grade EBD class and the terrific independent study girls this afternoon. The kids had spent the morning taking the FCAT and were beyond restless, so it was decided that a touch football game was in order. Everyone participated except Ms. Ruck and another student, who decided to plant marigolds with Emma instead. Everyone left the garden well exercised and for the most part, all smiles.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Scavenger Hunt in the Garden

The sky was cloudy, yet there was still fun to be had in the garden. The children were happy to be outside in the warm sun, offset by a cool breeze and clouds. The scavenger hunt that my fellow gardeners had created was both a fun and educational experience for the students. This activity included a list of plants that are growing in the garden, and the students explored the plant beds for clues about shape, size, or location to point them in the right direction in order to find each species of plant. As a group, we went down the list of plants and followed the clues to each one. A clue about a purple and green leafed plant let us to a large growth of kale. A clue reading “taller than you are” immediately prompted all the kids to point up towards the sunflowers, towing above their heads. They took turns feeling the head of an old, dry sunflower, feeling the rough texture of the hollows that once held the seeds. After successfully finding all the plants on our list, we sat down at the table and reviewed the names of all the plants we had found.

One item on our scavenger hunt list wasn’t exactly a plant, but it is still a very important part of our garden. “Stinky dirt” let the classes to the compost heap. Compost is a collection of soil and other organic matter, such as left over fruits and vegetables, or any other kind of decomposing plant matter. Weeds pulled from the garden are thrown in the compost, and fellow gardeners also contribute compost brought in from their own kitchens. When all these components come together and sit for a period of time, invertebrates, such as earthworms, beetles, grubs, cicada larvae, and ants, break down the raw organic materials into a highly concentrated and nutrient rich soil. We use this compost as fertilizer in the garden, and by doing so, we grow new life out of decay, and, for our small part, help continue the circle of life in our Edible Peace Patch Garden.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Those who bring SUNSHINE into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." - J.M. Barrie

It was a lovely morning to be in the peace patch. The sun was shining brightly and all of the garden plants were excitedly soaking up the warm rays. Upon arriving to the patch, the first thing to catch the eye is the two greenhouse starter trays on the ground next to the shed, which were thriving with seedlings of broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, okra, cucumber, herbs and more! The zucchinis were transplanted into bed 9 by the mid-afternoon shift, and in the early morning shift we made some room for the broccoli in bed 10 after moving some of the excess soil into beds 6 and 7, which were lacking. We were careful, while transplanting, not to tear the clustered roots of the broccoli, whose starters were busting at the seams. After giving the transplants a watering, we opted to hold off on watering everything else in the garden. Although, the afternoon shift did water the starters that seemed quite dry. Some plants are fairing better than others, which seem to need some more time drying out and the sunny opportunity has finally presented itself!

The corn is not where we’d hoped it would be in terms of health and height and the pole beans are busting through and ready to find something to climb. The morning shift investigated a strange phenomena occurring in the aloe bed…not sure if the soil is too wet or if something is eating it. Some of the points are shriveled and browned and some plants are just falling apart. Check out the picture, if you can.... What do you think?

The wildflower bed is filling in with sprouting green leaves of soon-to-be-blooming flora. The zucchini, tomatoes, new pineapple and collards are all looking awesome. The kale is still healthy, but needs to be harvested and shared before it turns bad. Those who have already tasted the delectable greens say that they are simply delicious! The compost looks the best it ever has now that it is layered properly and not aerated as much, allowing it to build more internal heat and the morning crew contributed a hefty load of fresh compost.

The children’s hard work is most certainly paying off and the classes are tracking the growth of their plants, comparing them to other bean beds and hypothesizing why some beans are growing at different rates and seeming “happier” than others. Both of the afternoon shifts did scavenger hunts with their classes today, which went great!

All in all, it was another fabulous day in the edible peace patch and this Florida sunshine is more than welcome in our garden any day! It sure is good to see one's shadow! Let’s hope the sun will continue to grace us with its illumination and warmth more and more in the upcoming weeks as things continue to grow.

{** Many apologies for blurry cell-phone photography. We had some technical difficulties with the digital camera**}

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sunny Day in the Garden

It was a cold day out, but once the wind died down and being in the direct sun it became warm working in the garden. Many of the kids decided to take off their jackets because the sun was warming us enough. This was the case for the most of the kids in Mrs. Devitt’s kindergarten class as they were running around in the field playing “Oh, Plant.” This game is originally called “Oh, Deer” from the Project Wild book but for our kids we changed it to plants for the garden. Food, water, and shelter were the three resources the deer needed. We picked water, soil, and sun as the resources for the plant to need. The kids had lots of fun running all around. This game helped to show the kids that when resources are limited the life form can not survive.

Next Mobley’s second grades came out and they helped us water the trenches to help the marigold and sunflowers to grow. While watering, we found a couple sunflower plants growing out of the soil. All the kids were able to see the sunflowers starting to grow, and they all really enjoyed seeing the life coming to the garden. Then we discussed why water and sun are key resource in the survival of this plant.
After I was done with these two classes I weeded around the garden waiting for my second shift classes to come enjoy the garden. The first class that came was Mrs. Hall’s first graders. This was their first time at the garden so we did introductions. We introduced each other and talked about the rules. Then the kids receive a tour of the garden; they were very excited to see the new growth that was happening in the garden. Once we came to the watermelon patches, I showed the kids how to idenified the watermelon sprouts and had them count how many we had growing in our garden. There were seven watermelons that have sprouted in the patches.

Last but not least Mrs. Smith’s first graders came out to the garden. They were a great help. They started by add the leftover fruit, vegetables, and other organic materials into the compost pile. Then the kids took turns flipping the soil with a shovel. When not turning the compost the kids were helping redo the cardboard that was placed by beds nine and ten. The cardboard was placed down to reduce the growth of weeds in the garden. They helped move the mulch away from the area and laid the cardboard boxes down, and then covered them back over with the mulch. Now that the cardboard is covered the garden looks clean and pretty. Today was a good day in the garden and we had lots of excellent little helpers. Thanks for a fun day Lakewood Elementary students.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Chilly and Hopeful Thursday!

The garden was quite chilly this afternoon, but the cold did not weaken the kids excitement. Bundled up in tiny Dora the Explorer jackets, Ms. Baker's kindergarten class waddled in. We asked the class if they remembered what we had all been doing and they replied, "bed number 9!" And they were right, a few weeks ago we planted zucchini and squash in bed number 9. Last week, the bed was more or less empty, with a few voluntary sprouts, but this week, we told the class, big things were happening. After all the kids shot up and started running over to the bed, we had to take a break to go over the rules of the garden.

Once we got to bed number 9 the "woahs" echoed. The plants survived the freeze! After observing and discussing, all the kids drew pictures of what they saw, what the plants needed to grow, what the vegetables were going to look like once they were ready to eat, and their favorite vegetable and/or part of the garden.

After we waived goodbye, we waited for a little while for the 1st grade class. Unfortunately, they were busy with a big project that they had to finish tomorrow, so they did not come out. We had planned on planting the last pineapple, watering the trenches, and putting up some fun signs. Next week the 1st grade will be very busy!

Instead, we weeded weeded the Three Sisters and talked about its signifigance. Here is a link to information on Three Sisters Farming methods: http://ddl.nmsu.edu/kids/webquests/wqthreesisters_k.html

Afterward, we cleaned up and headed back to Eckerd before the end-of-the-day rush.