Wednesday October 31 is Halloween. This time of year, pumpkins rule - but don’t forget those crafty gourds! The biggest difference between pumpkins and gourds is that pumpkins last only for a few months if kept uncut and stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Gourds on the other hand, if left uncut, will dry and can be used for crafts for years to come.
So, save those gourd seeds this year, plant next year and you’ll have oodles of gourds to decorate next fall. If you do decide to save your seeds, you may plant them next April or May. When the kids return to school, they should be ready to pick in August or September.
Here’s hoping that you and your classes have a safe and happy Halloween. May the images below inspire you all!
Speaking of inspiration - November 1, 2012 is the deadline to turn in your classes garden journal. The winning class with get free transplants this spring from Bonnie Plants! Submit your entries to email@example.com or Rebecca Reed, 46 Keasler Rd., Asheville, NC 28805
If you started your veggie gardens just after Labor Day, you should be harvesting now. Radishes lettuces, and many greens started from plants are ready to pick now!
Speaking of harvesting - don’t forget to keep track of quantities in your gardening journal. If you haven’t heard, Bonnie Plants will be donating FREE SPRING PLANTS to the class with the best garden journal. Think your class is tops, make sure then submit a copy to me, Rebecca Reed electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org by November 1, 2012 or via snail mail at 46 Keasler Rd., Asheville, NC 28805.
Fall is now officially here and boy are we glad! By now, your veggie beds and containers should be prepped and ready to go. If you haven’t already planted, ask your class which they’d like to try: beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, spinach, turnips, and radishes. Water the soil well prior to planting these seeds, lightly cover, and then water daily to insure germination.
You can also transplant leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, Brussell sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, collards,turnips, and cabbage right now - all veggies MOST kids DON’T like to eat. Rather than letting kids plant the seeds of veggies they KNOW THEY LIKE, put a spin on things and have them come up with a list of THEIR MOST DREADED veggies, then plant an “I DARE YOU” garden.
At harvest, plan an “I DARE YOU” dinner and see who of your gardeners are brave enough to dine on this group of “untouchables.” Offer a medal for the kids who taste everything and then have everyone vote for the untouchable they really loved.
Lesson to Grow On: Why do we decide we don’t like certain things? It can be a vegetable, a sport, or even a person. Often, we decide we don’t like something because we don’t know that much about it - or because our friends don’t like it.
Have students make a list of why they think they don’t like a certain vegetable and then write a counter list about all the good things they can find out about that vegetable. It can be that it is packed with vitamins, has pretty leaves, or can be eatten both raw and cooked. THIS IS GREAT MATERIAL FOR YOUR GARDEN JOURNAL! Illustrations make this practice even better.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Bonnie Plants to award the class with the winning journal with FREE PLANTS for their garden. Your class or school may be promoted by Bonnie Plants! The delivery will be made next spring - just in time for planting. Remember, all entries must be mailed or emailed into REBECCA REED by NOVEMBER 1, 2012: email@example.com or 46 Keasler Rd., Asheville, NC 28805. Good luck!
If you’re like me, you awoke this morning to significantly cooler weather compared to yesterday. The air has a nip, the skies are crystal clear, and there’s less humidity than just a day ago. If you’re a gardener, this means one thing: It’s time to plant GREENS!
Greens is a catch-all term for collards, mustards, kales, spinach, and even lettuces. Right now, you can start them from seed or plants. Traditionally collards, mustard, and kale have been planted in long rows in South Carolina, but raised bed vegetable gardening is changing that. You can plant in any container that has a drainage soil.
Greens LOVE rich, well-drained soil, so if you’re using bagged potting soil, I recommend adding a generous helping of compost, decomposed animal manure, or leaf litter and working it it. A fan of organic gadening, this should provide your plants with a good starter nutrition, but I also like to water with fish emulsion fertilizer too. Any organic vegetable garden fertilizer will do though.
Location is key: Though greens can take less sun that most vegetables, they perform the best when planted where they will recieve at least 6 hours of full sun.
Don’t forget to water! I prefer to water the soil well prior to planting. If I’m setting out plants, I dunk their cell pack in a bucket of water to fully hydrate the starts prior to planting.
Lesson to Grow On: Planting and math go hand and hand. Ask students to figure out the total area of the beds they are planting. A 4’ x 8’ bed is 32 square feet.
If they plant half the bed in collards and half the bed in spinach, what is the size of the space they are planting: 32/2 = 16. Designated space for each crop is now 4ft x 4ft.
If you space the collard plants 1 foot apart, how many should be planted in the 4ft x 4ft space?
4 plants x 4 plants = 16 plants.
If 4 plants are sold per cell pack, how many cell packs of collards should you buy?
16 plants needed / 4 plants per cell pack = 4 cell packs to buy
Now, have your students repeat this excercise with spinach: The only thing you need to know is that you space spinach 6 - inches on center. The first Good to Grow Team that has their students send me the correct answers back this week will win a prize! Please send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject line should say GTG ANSWER.
Whether you’re new to gardening or an old pro, there’s a benefit to keeping a garden journal. Long before you even plant the first seed, you can start journaling. You may include photos of veggies you’d like to plant, the type of raised beds, Smart Pots, or containers you’d like to use, and even make notes about the area you’re thinking of using for your garden.
How often should you write in it? Weekly! Record what you’ve done (or haven’t done), the weather, or inspirations you may have seen in magazines, Pintrest, garden centers, and more.
What do I use as my journal? Anything that makes record keeping fun: A composition book, a scrapebook, your computer, a Facebook page, Instagram, or Pintrest.
Why should you do this? Because we’re going to give a prize to the class with the best garden journal. All journals must be postmarked or emailed to Good to Grow by November 1, 2012. To mail, send to: Good to Grow, 46 Keasler Rd., Asheville, NC 28805. To email, send to email@example.com.
Also, each week from September through October, we’d like to post a photo of your class and their Good to Grow program on this website! Those images may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org too.
Lesson to Grow On: Talk to your team about how they think they’d like to set up their garden journal. Date entry is the most popular, but it can also be organized by ideas, plants, successes, failures (which are just as important as successes when documented), and harvest. While you’re keeping records, you’re also strengthening reading and writing skills.
Welcome back Good to Growers. If you are starting your Good to Grow program for the first time this fall, we are so excited to have you join us. Hands-on gardening feeds not only our tummies, but also our souls. Its a great way to hone reading, math, and science skill, while teaching valuable lessons on making smart food choices.
If you’re new to the program, we suggest that you read through last year’s archives to see what we talked about and to see what other schools are doing.
This season, Chairman Donna Hummelman and I will include not only a growing lesson in each post so you’ll know what you should be doing in the garden, but also a reading, science, or math lesson that you may incorporate into your classes.
The first post of the 2012 session will appear on August 26 and the last on November 4, 2012. We are eager to see what your school is planting and learning. This season, we will offer a prize for the class that keeps the best garden journal! All entries must be sent in by November 1, 2012. More info to come.
Donna Hummelman, Chairman
Rebecca Reed, Co-chairman
Donna and I have had a great time telling each of you about the Good to Grow Program over the past month and the District Garden Club meetings. If you haven’t already begun your school gardens, there’s no better time to start than right now! Its hard to believe that April will be here next week. If you school gets out at the end of May, this gives your a little less than 60 days to plant and harvest, so hop to it now!
We’re excited to share our latest report that came in from Kathy Cramer, who is the Good To Grow Chairman for East Low Country. Here, she shares her club’s experience with us.
Spring Schoolyard gardens in the East Low Country
On Feb. 22, members of Virginia’s Pride Garden Club met with the fourth grade classes at Laurence Manning Academy. This East Low Country garden club members had already prepared 4 x 4 raised bed’s for planting. Each class planted broccoli, lettuce, sugar snaps, radishes and carrots. Promoting ownership and sharing they students were presented with water hoses and a watering wand to take care of the garden. Each class took notes and instructions.
March 7, the classes met again to see and discuss the progress of the garden and to plant tomato seeds. Each child was given a peat pot and two white cherry tomato seeds to plant. The children were instructed how to plant the seeds and take care of them until time to transplant them to a bigger container. When these seeds germinate and the plants reach maturity each child will take home a tomato plant and some will be for their school garden.
The days may be warming, but March can be so tricky. Just to be safe, it is not wise to set out transplants of warm season vegetables yet.
Keep them indoors, safe from frost a bit longer. After all chance of frost has past set out eggplant, onion, pepper, and tomato in your region. I know these warm days are tempting you, but these heat-loving veggies do not like cold!
In the Upstate, sow mustard, garden (or sugar) peas, radish, spinach, and turnips.
In the Piedmont, you may begin to set out transplants of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower up to four weeks before the last freeze. Direct sow carrots, lettuce, peas, and mustard, radish, rutabagas and spinach.
If you live in the Coastal Region of the state, you may start sowing the seeds of butter beans, pole beans, snap beans, sweet corn, summer squash.
Gardening has its own language and if you’re a beginner, it can sometimes be intimidating. Spring is the time of year when we are eager to start our gardens but may not be sure of the best way to get things going. Here are common gardening terms and what they mean.
Indoor Sow - to start seeds inside. This can be done in cups, trays, clean, re-used cell packs, or profession seed starting kits. Most seeds germinate within 5 to 24 days. Your seed packet will provide this information.
The main reason you start seeds indoors is to get a jump on the growing season. As a general rule, start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks prior to transplanting them into the garden.
You can also start small seeds indoors, as it is hard to gauge spacing outside.
Direct Sow - to start seeds outdoors. You may plant directly in the ground, in containers, or in raised beds. Do note, containers, especially if they are small, can have a soil temperature 20 degrees cooler than ground temperature during winter months. As a general rule, seeds that are larger are usually started in the ground - but not always.
Some plants like the herb chervil, which has a taproot, is best planted in the ground because it does not transplant well. Cucumber, squash, and corn do not have taproots, but do not respond well to root disturbance that can occur during transplanting.
Transplanting - to plant seedlings started indoors outside. Transplanting usually takes place 4 to 6 weeks after plants have emerged. Always check the average frost date for your area. While cool season crops like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower may be set out 4 weeks before the last frost, warm season veggies, like tomato, peppers, and squash, should NEVER be set out before ALL chance of frost has past.
Harden off - to prepare an indoor sown or greenhouse grown plant to be planted outside. Indoor sown plants are just like babies - they’ve been coddled in comfy surroundings, given regular water, and just the right amount of light. Many need a little toughening up (or hardening off) before they are transplanted outdoors where temperatures fluctuate, watering irregular, and sunlight more intense.
To prepare new seedlings for transplanting, set them outside during the day and bring them in at night - for about 3 to 4 days. Gradually reduce water, letting them dry out slightly, and them follow with a thorough, slow drenching. For the next few days, let them stay outside all night. By the following week, they should be ready to be planted in the ground.
Thin - to selectively remove plants. It is exciting to see all of your seeds come up, but you will get stronger, more productive crops if you remove part of them. For example, if you don’t thin beets, turnips, or carrots, you will only get leafy tops. The best way to thin these and other root crops is with a pair of scissors. If you want a two inch diameter beet or turnip, thin plants so that they are 2 inches apart. And yes, you can eat the delicate tops!
Thin lettuces, arugala, and other salad greens over several weeks to extend the season. You can use scissors or pinch out greens with your fingers. Even squash, corn and cucumbers can be thinned if you planted to guarantee germination. Simple pluck away crowded seedling (before true leaves imerge) with your fingers.
One final note - it is better to thin when the soil si damp rather than dry. It disturbs the roots less.
March is known for its unpredictable weather, but if you start seeds indoors, they’ll be protected and you’ll get a jump on your harvest.
Seeds can be started in almost anything - paper cups, clean cell packs that have been rinsed with bleach water, and seed starting trays purchased from the garden center.
In his book Month-By-Month Gardening in the Carolinas, Bob Polomski says March is the month to start basil, chives, parsley, summer savoy, and sweet marjoran if you live in the Upstate. To encourage parsley to germinate, soak seeds in warm water overnight.
Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower seeds may also be started indoors now so that they will be ready to transplant in six to eight weeks.
If you live in the Piedmont, sow warm season vegetables in trays indoors. Try eggplant, heat-tolerant New Zealand spinach, pepper, and tomato. Bob also offers this VERY important advice: Sow the seeds of plants that dislike root disturbance in individual cups or peat pellets. They include cucumber, muskmelon, squash, and watermelon.
In the Coastal region of the state, plant perennial herbs like chives, oregano, and thyme when plants become available in garden centers. Now is the time to sow the seeds of parsley, dill, and beets, and Swiss chard.
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