Vision

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!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Growing, Growing, Growing...

zucchini
With all of the rain we have had in the past couple of weeks, the garden is coming along nicely. We have tomatoes, zucchini, and snap peas growing. The oregano and basil are in abundance and the cukes will be flowering very shortly.

ladybug taking care of the aphids on the oregano

zucchini twins

cukes with the volunteer tomatoes (returning for a third year)

zucchini from another angle

cukes

tomotoes (we should have a lot this season)

wish you could smell this heavenly basil!

snap peas
After the holiday we will be planning a garden event which will include a garden activity and craft. Keep watching the Facebook page for details.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Draw Yourself Back to Nature - ecourse, blog hop and giveaway!


Connecting children with nature is one of the many reasons we started this garden project and what better way to do that than to sit and observe and then draw what you see.

During last summer's garden session we set up easels with watercolors so the children could paint what they saw in the garden. It was an unsupervised activity, where they could paint without instruction or guidance. The results were pretty amazing!



We both love to sketch and were looking for a course to take so we could learn watercolor techniques. We came across Kelly's e-course Draw Yourself Back to Nature which seemed to be just what we were looking for.


The course was exactly what we were looking for and much more. It was a four week course which included instruction on watercolor and sketching techniques, observing nature, quiet meditation plus lots of information on nature journaling.

One of the lessons was doing daily thumbnail sketching. Each day you get out in nature, observe your surroundings, listen to the environment and just let your mind wander to see what catches your eye. You then sketch what you see on the sheet Kelly provides as one of many downloads.



This was a great activity to slow down a bit and get outside to enjoy nature! You will be surprised at how much you miss as you rush around each day.
We enjoyed this activity so much that we created our own version of the worksheet and incorporated it into a garden club activity.


In the Draw Yourself Back to Nature course Kelly also showed us watercolor techniques through weekly lessons. We learned that the process is more important than the product, something we continue to work at. Kelly also shared with us her new Connecting with Color mini eCourse, which was a huge help in understanding a bit about color theory. These extra lessons were extremely helpful and much appreciated.


 Here is some or our artwork from the course:





We both took away so much more than expected from this course, not only with lessons and activities that we could incorporate into the garden club, but also by giving us the foundation to continue sketching and water coloring plus activities that we can do ourselves on a daily basis to reconnect with nature. 

 I have always kept a garden journal, it's a way for me to keep track of what I grow each year and to record the progress of the garden. I usually take photos to document the plants, but have always wanted to sketch and paint what I see instead. This course has given me the basic techniques to do that and the inspiration to keep learning! 

If you are looking for a way to connect with your children and nature this summer consider signing up fore this course!

Kelly is launching her self paced courses just in time for summer!

To celebrate this week's Bundle Up for Summer Blog Hop and new self paced eCourses, Wings, Worms, and Wonder will be giving away 2  FREE course registrations!!!

1 Connecting with Color course registration will be randomly drawn from comments on Friday's Wings, Worms, and Wonder Blog Hop post  &

1 Draw Yourself Back to Nature & Connecting with Color bundle will be drawn from the people who comment everyday on every post of the Bundle Up for Summer Blog Hop!!! So be sure to follow all week!! 

Winners will be announced on the Wings, Worms, and Wonder blog Tuesday 6/30!!!! 

Be sure to check out the other participants in the blog hop:


 And be sure to check out Kelly's post on Friday and leave a comment for a chance to win the giveaway!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Beneficials



During this week's Garden Club we explored creatures that are beneficial to a garden environment. The children brainstormed lists of things they knew to be beneficial. Their knowledge was quite extensive. They know that bees and butterflies are pollinators, worms help aerate the soil, ladybugs eat aphids, and birds will eat bugs from the garden. We discussed that besides praying mantis being our state insect, they also will eat harmful insects from the garden. 
A lesser known fact among the children was that toads can consume 10,000 insects in a single season. That got them thinking that maybe we should invite some toads to live in our garden. They use recycled flower pots to create "toad houses" in an attempt to invite these fun critters to dine from our ever growing nature habitat. To learn more about toads check out this fun link to the Easy Science for Kids website.


decorating toad houses.
Here are some of the beneficial insects taking up residence in our school garden.

mating praying mantis
The praying mantis can reach up to 5" in length. Their heads can turn up to 180 degrees and their large eyes are perfect for spotting prey. They are ambush hunters which means they don't actively go looking for food. They will wait somewhere and pounce on prey when it comes near them. They aren't picky about what they eat either. They will eat butterflies and bees as easily as garden pests. They will also eat their own species. Very large mantis have been known to eat small salamanders, frogs, and birds!

Assassin bug
Assassin bugs use their long "beak" to pierce prey and inject it with lethal toxins that kill the insect within a few seconds. That same toxin will liquefy the insides of the prey which will then be drunk by the assassin bug. 

ladybug or ladybird beetle
Ladybugs can complete their life cycle from egg to adult in as little as 4-7 weeks. During that short lifetime a single ladybug can eat as many as 5000 aphids.
dragonfly

monarch butterfly

busy pollinating bee
The key to attracting beneficial insects to your garden is creating a diverse ecosystem and providing plenty of areas for habitats. If you would like to learn more about inviting beneficials to your own garden check out this article from Mother Earth News.

The warm weather we are having is finally making everything pop in the garden. Here are our latest progress shots.

Wild iris

chives

kale

walking stick kale

runner bean

potato

zucchini

cucumber
The last Garden Club of the school year will be held June 9. We will be doing some summer session activities but very differently than last year. Follow us on Facebook to find out when we will be hosting summer garden activities. Facebook link

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dirty Hands, Happy Hearts


My Mom always used to say that you could tell how much fun you had by how dirty you were at the end of the day. If this week's Garden club is any indication, they all had a blast! 
While they were getting dirty, they planted tomatoes, basil, artichoke, walking stick kale, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, squash, bush beans and sunflowers. They worked hard clearing a pumpkin patch, and tasted the sprouts they started last week.

Seedlings ready to go in.

More seedlings.
I love how this club is really starting to work like a team to get things done. They communicated really well with each other to get the tasks accomplished.





Getting a pumpkin bed dug is hard work but this team persevered and got the task done.



I love proving time and again that when children take part in the process of growing their food, they are more likely to try new things and enjoy them as well.

Enjoying alfalfa sprouts

"These are yummy"
At every club we try to provide time for quiet reflection and journal entries. What we are really doing is incorporating literacy but they don't need to know that!


The perennial beds are becoming quite impressive. One child dubbed the center perennial bed "the heart of the Garden because you can tell there is a lot of love here."


After the snow delays this winter caused, we are finally back into building mode. The garden shed is nearly complete. We only have to put on the door, roof, and siding. Right after we get that done, construction on the greenhouse can begin.


tomato

peppers, sunflowers, oregano

walking stick kale (will grow over 6 feet tall)
I hope we can encourage you go to out and get messy with your own kids!
Happy Gardening!!

Water droplet on kale