The Garden at Oswegatchie School is a sustainable organic garden where children get a hands on experience learning where their food comes from while developing an appreciation and respect for nature. The Garden will be a learning center to teach gardening as well as incorporating art, music, literature, math and science. It is a place where children are encouraged to join in and participate in the process of creating, developing and maintaining the garden!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Clean-up 4/9/14

We had a fantastic turn out for our Spring clean-up. Every grade level was represented and all the children were eager to work. I think they were all as anxious as I was to get outside and start playing in the dirt. 

 The first task was to clean out the perennial sign bed.

The children pulled out last year's spent annuals and dead headed the perennials. We saw a lot of new growth underneath the old dead branches. 

Next, they got to work on the center perennial butterfly garden.

We saw bee balm, lambs ears, and yarrow pushing up out of the soil to make an appearance.

There was plenty of work to be done in the raised and tilled beds. The students cleared out last year's spent plants and pulled any stubborn weeds they found.  After that, they top dressed each raised bed with fresh soil and compost.

Building bamboo Teepees for the peas

Working hard!
Peas are able to go in early so the before planting them we built a couple of teepees. Last year we didn't support our beans soon enough and they ended up wrapping around themselves and I think our yield was affected. This year we planned ahead and got the support up as soon as the crop was planted.

Planting the peas :)

The end result (for now)
We will be planting many companions with the peas to fill the beds to get the most yield we can.  Companion plants keep pests away, attract beneficial insects, and look nice too.
Lettuce, chives, carrots, and beets can all be sewn directly now too. However, we ran out of time today so will be planting those next time.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Let's Get Growing!

Here comes the garlic!
I thought Winter would never leave! I love cold and the snow but this year I got more than my fill. Maybe because I knew the Garden was waiting, just sitting there patiently. Unlike me, I've been pouring over seed catalogs, sorting our saved seeds and dreaming of the time when we could get our hands dirty again. Anxious to see spikes of green shooting through the rich, sweet soil. As it always does, in it's own good time, Spring has finally sprung! Upon inspection of the Garden this weekend we rejoiced in how much life is starting to come back to our much loved project. 

Bee Balm poking through.

Lamb's ears springing back to life.
Sedum bursting through the soil
The garlic, leeks, and onions we set in the Fall are greening up nicely and shooting towards the sun. In our center perennial bed many of the plants are starting to make a welcome appearance.
 The daytime temps have ranged from low forties to mid sixties. After the long stretch of sub zero winter temperatures, even forties feel like a heat wave! Since the Garden is situated due South the strong Spring sun has been warming the beds nicely. So far we have had ample rain keeping the well drained raised beds moist.

Our first Garden club will meet this week to start cleaning out the beds, cut back the dead portions of the perennials, direct sow some cold crops and check on the progress of the compost bins started in the Fall. Spoiler alert: We have created black gold!
Last Fall we won a generous grant from The Waterford Education Foundation and have received money from  The Oswegatchie School Organization to proceed with the building of a Garden shed and fence. As soon as the grounds thaw  some more Oswegatchie students will begin working on those projects. We have such wonderful things planned for the Garden this year and hope you continue to stop by to share the successes of our dedicated students.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Creating Compost

Playing in the leaves before adding them to the compost pile.

We were worried it might be too chilly to work in the Garden today. Yesterday's biting winds had us rethinking a Garden Club meeting last night. It was too late to contact everyone to cancel so we kept our fingers crossed and went ahead as planned. The wind died down and it was a crisp 44 degrees. The children showed up eager to work and curious.

Today's topic was compost; how to make it, why we compost, and what lives in it. Rather than waste a lot of time talking about it, we did a quick survey of what they knew about compost then  we put the kids right to work. Our wonderful kitchen staff started saving food scraps for us a couple of days ago so the first thing we did was collect the scrap bucket (green matter). One group of children got busy collecting leaves (brown matter) while another starting moving some of our leftover garden dirt into the bins for a nice compost base. I was reminded once again that what adults consider work, children consider play. I couldn't help but get caught up in their joy as they made "leaf angels" or found "fat juicy" worms in the dirt pile. All of the children worked as a team to rake leaves, shovel dirt, and layer the compost ingredients. I was thrilled to hear "I didn't know garden club could be fun when it's cold too!"

If you want to learn more about composting or start your own compost bins Cornell University has a comprehensive guide you can access by clicking here.

The bucket our kitchen waste is collected in.

This weeks tasty selection!

Collecting leaves for the compost.

Adding dirt to the compost.

Adding leaves to the "extra" bin.

Adding the "green" material to the bin.

Second layer
Working hard to even out the layer.

Ready for the next layer.
Everyone grabbed a handful.

Third layer coming in.

We added a little more dirt to the third layer of leaves.
Taking a moment to make a "leaf angel".

The finished piece.

Our hard working dedicated crew!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Cub Scouts Lend a Hand

Some members from Waterford's Pack 36 Den 2 lend a hand.
Today we built the compost bins for the School Garden. Some boy scouts and cub scouts from Pack 36, Den 2 came out to help us "zip" them together. We used recycled wooden pallets for the frames and then just zip tied them together for ease. Mrs. Houlihan and her wonderful staff in the Oswegatchie school cafeteria will be collecting fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen to add to the compost. This goes along nicely with our sustainability mission to use materials from the school grounds to perpetuate the garden. The kitchen scraps combined with grass clippings, leaves, and garden waste will make for some rich compost to be used in the garden boxes and tilled beds. 

Thank you very much to Brenda, Chris, Ian, and Kyle McNeil, Kyle and Craig Caulkins, Paul and Kevin McEntarfer, and Sam Menders for coming out and helping us with this project. We appreciate your efforts in helping to grow this garden project.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Planting Onions and Leeks

The onion and leek sets  arrived last week from Peaceful Valley Farms. We have found them to be the best supplier of organic seeds and sets. It was a little cool and windy but the whole family pitched in to get the job done. 

Sarah got the bed ready by lightly turning the soil. We were thrilled to see a copious amount of worms thriving in the soil.

Rob then got to work spacing the holes using the bio intensive method.

"I use the biointensive method for planting, which allows you to plant 4 times the amount in one-quarter of the area. Some great resources on biointensive planting are How to Grow More Vegetables and The Sustainable Vegetable Garden by John Jeavons of Ecology Action. The biointensive method includes double digging your beds, and planting in a honeycomb pattern to make better use of your planting area.  Double digging allows the plants roots to grow larger, giving them access to more food and water, providing for healthier plants and better yields. 
According to the charts in these books, onions should be spaced 4" apart."

(excerpt from Bepa's Garden)

Amanda got the onion sets ready by cutting them to three inch lengths while Rob and Sarah planted them. In the Spring when the onions start growing, we can thin them and use the thinned plants as scallions.

One full bed of onions
We used the same process for planting the leeks. 

planting the leeks in the other half of the garlic bed

To protect the sets from freezing and to add nutrients to the soil, we then covered the planted beds with chopped leaves.

Today was about 53 with a light breeze. We had about 1/4 inch of rain this week.
The parsley is still going strong and will continue to thrive over the winter. A critter of undetermined species has munched one of the greens beds down to the ground. It's a good thing we got our grant from the Waterford Education Foundation. We will be able to put the fence up shortly!