Garden Blog

1 May 2013

posted May 1, 2013, 12:47 PM by Andrea Feige

Happy May Day!

A lot has happened over the past few weeks, so I thought I'd do a brief "catch up" post.

On April 19th, the Gardening Exploratory went to Three Hearts Farm to see what a CSA Farm was like.  The worked inside the greenhouse transplanting basil and tomatoes.  They also worked outside, planting onions.  Dean (the farm owner) and Dylan (the farm manager) did a wonderful job encouraging the students to learn about the farm in a hands on way.  Here are some photos to highlight the day:

 
 
 
 
Gardeners work alongside Dean and Dylan.   Working on transplanting in the greenhouse.     6th graders approve of the baby plants.  7th graders approve of gardening field trips!


Then, last Friday, one member of the Gardening Exploratory stayed after school and helped set up 3 hoop houses for our raised beds.
   

 
 
 
 

 The skeleton structure.  Schedule 40 PVC held into the raised beds with pipe strapping. This is only going to be a temporary cover, but it is 30 mil plastic sheeting sealed on the sides with clamps. A most excellent gardener helping us set these up outside of school time!  Thanks! The final product.  We have 3 of the raised beds covered with the plastic and one left open. 


We learned the hard way that the 30 mile isn't a strong enough plastic, so if you have row cover or a thicker plastic that you'd be willing to donate, we would love to receive it!  The width of the plastic should be about 12'x 20'

Finally, we added up the total amount of cafeteria scraps composted in the month of April.  With only 14 days of collecting throughout, we collected 137 pounds of compostable material.  If you have spare hay or "brown" material that we could compost, we would love to receive it!  The long term goal is to be able to use the compost in our own garden AND to sell it back to the community as a way to continue to fund the gardening program.

April was a big month and May proves to be an even busier month.

Best,
Gardening Exploratory

27 March 2013

posted Mar 27, 2013, 9:28 AM by Andrea Feige   [ updated Mar 29, 2013, 2:31 PM ]

3rd trimester has begun and the garden is starting to see some life!

Last month the composting committee collected a total of 60 pounds of compostable material from the cafeteria.  That's more than some of our elementary students weigh!

I am very excited for this trimester! Some of our seedlings (broccoli and dill) have begun growing.  We also gotten our peppers and thyme started and are just waiting to see the buds sprout!

  

A month back, I asked for donations of newspaper from the staff and community members.  Thank you to everyone who has donated!  With the newspaper, we created our own seed starting cups, which look like this:

They have definitely been an interesting idea.  There is some issue with the newspaper molding if the containers are kept too close together, mostly because of the amount of moisture the newspaper seems to hold.  We also learned that we have to either have the dirt nearly to the brim, or to cut back the top so that the sunlight doesn't get blocked out by the edge of the newspaper.  Many of our broccoli seedlings were "leggy" (meaning they grew too much, too fast) and couldn't support the weight of their first leaves, or cotyledons.  

But, the great thing about a garden is that learning is all through trial and error and for every error you become all the wiser.

Using the money from the 4% Day Grant from the Bozeman Co-Op, we were able to buy all the seeds we could possibly need/want for this year's garden!






Our selection for this summer will include:
      • Sweet Pepper King Of The North - Heirloom - Baker Creek (Mansfield, Missouri)
      • Broccoli, De Cicco - Organic, Heirloom - Irish Eyes Garden Seeds (Ellensburg, Washington)
      • Lettuce, Buttercrunch - Fisher's Garden Store (Belgrade, Montana)
      • Spinach, Strawberry Spinach - Seed Savers Exchange (Decorah, IA) 
      • Mammoth Dill - Organic, Heirloom - Irish Eyes Garden Seeds (Ellensburg, Washington)
      • Thyme - Fisher's Garden Store (Belgrade, Montana)
      • Cilantro - Organic, Heirloom -  Irish Eyes Garden Seeds (Ellensburg, Washington)
      • Sunflower, Black Mammoth - Organic - Irish Eyes Garden Seeds (Ellensburg, Washington)
      • Fragrant Wildflower Mix - Beauty Beyond Believe Wildflower Seeds (Boulder, Colorado)
          • This package of seeds contains: Evening Primrose, Scarlet Sage, Virginia Stock, Sweet Sultan, Fragrant Plains Daisy, Lemon Mint, Sweet Alyssum, Sweet William Pinks, Wallflower, Flour O'Clock, Lemon Balm, Mignonette, Sweet Penstemon, Smoke Plant, Sweet Pea, Evening Scented Stock
Finally, we have also used the 4% Day Grant to purchase an indoor seed starting kit (lamp, table, a few seed trays, heated mat, etc).  I'm learning very quickly that the growing season in Montana is much shorter than the one that I am used to in South Dakota....so time is of the essence! This will also help with the issue of "leggy" plants.

The gardening class meets on Fridays from 1:30-2:30pm.  If you are interested in volunteering to help take care of the garden over the summer, please feel free to drop me a line

25 January 2013

posted Jan 26, 2013, 4:10 PM by Andrea Feige

This Friday, we had the students in the gardening class talk with elementary classes about composting.  We are currently picking up compostable scraps from the kitchen staff.  Within the next few weeks, there will be two compost bins in the lunch room, into which the students will separate their scraps.  There are a few more classes that need to be presented to, but so far, the students have done an incredible job!

Friday (25th) was also 4% day at the Co-Op! Thank you for all of your support!


16 January 2013

posted Jan 16, 2013, 7:41 AM by Andrea Feige

It's been a while since an update, and a lot has happened!

With the start of the new trimester, Monforton introduced a "gardening only" class.  There are 6 students in the class.  The goal for this trimester is to develop a cafeteria to compost program.  On the 25th, the gardening class students will go between grades K-5 demonstrating and talking about what compost is, how to compost, why we should compost, and how Monforton is going to start composting.  The program will get it's first test run the week of January 28th.  Starting then, we will have two cafeteria volunteers to help the student separate their lunch left overs.  After that, we will weight the total amount of compostable waste and do a weekly measurement of how much waste the school will be composting!

Of course, this wouldn't even been feasible if we didn't have an awesome kitchen staff that are completely supportive of the idea and letting us add one more thing to the chaos of lunch.  Thanks Dana and Dan!

On the side, we have been talking about the importance of nutrients and knowing from where we get our food.  We have also painted terra cotta pots and started growing marigolds!

2 November 2012

posted Nov 7, 2012, 8:49 AM by Andrea Feige   [ updated Nov 7, 2012, 6:42 PM ]

Today we winterized the garden.  We had around 10 volunteers from all age groups.  Even the younger students that were out for recess decided to join us in laying paper, compost, and cardboard.


This winter, we decided to try a new method of “winterizing” a garden that had relatively low requirements for effort and the maintenance over the winter was minimal as well.  What we did was pretty slick:

1) Cut down/tear out any dead plants and lay them on top of the dirt
2) Pick out any visible rocks
3) Lay down paper that was in the recycling bin
4) Lay what was in our compost bin at the time on top of the paper (mostly grass clippings, a few coffee beans, and some leaves)
5) Cover the compost mixture with cardboard
6) Water the cardboard down and saturate the raised garden bed.

This is known as lasagna gardening.....the baby sister to no-till farming.  
More information on this HERE.

The students really seemed to enjoy doing the work and it was wonderful to watch some of the older students start teaching the younger students who were asking what we were doing.


The gardening group meets every Friday from 1:30-2:30.  The “adults” involved are Lyn and Loren (both awesome students from MSU who have offered to help this semester) and Miss Feige (the music teacher).  We couldn’t have been able to organize this without the wonderful help of Ms. Knaub.  We also owe thanks to Jen MacFarlane and her husband, who ran the garden last year and installed the composting system we have today.  Finally, thank you to all of the staff and administration of Monforton School for their continued support with this endeavor!


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