I just soiled myself and I couldn’t be happier!
Okay at first flush this may sound like a butt-load of embarassment, however, I just soiled myself has nothing to do with excrement, but rather excitement! I recently started volunteering at a local elementary school sharing gardening projects in the after school program. I was suffering from the winter doldrums and pining away for spring and a strong desire to play in the dirt. So developing projects and sharing with the kids really helped me engage in my love for gardening and lighten my mood.
The first two weeks we used newspaper pots for planting seeds in and placed them in “mini greenhouses” made from milk and vinegar jugs, a method known as winter sowing. The kids were quick to catch the recycling aspects involved, I was thrilled this seemed so inherent in their mindset! They also noticed how light the seed starting mix was and asked about the “white specks” which opened a conversation about the components of the mix and why they were important.
I had a plan in place about how this would unfold…..herbs in one, flowers in another,peas in their separate “greenhouse” with everything labeled and so on. However with the enthusiasm and flurry of activity I became acutely aware that my agenda needed to park itself squarely outside that classroom door.Needless to say some of the plant identities will remain a mystery until they reach a recognizable size. A very small price to pay for allowing unbridled excitement to simply just play out! Of course little Natalie’s greenhouse will be a cinch to identify as I think she planted enough flower seeds for 1/4 acre in a one gallon jug!!!! The peas sprouted in a mere 5 days and usually are not good candidates for transplanting,but with the newspaper pots going directly into the soil, this should work just fine.
Here is a link with video instructions for winter sowing . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHBKJOeOcyM
How I soiled myself in the past
The following week we created wildflower seed balls and will “launch” them on Earth Day. I have asked the children to scout out beautification sites on campus in the meantime.Many people have become involved in guerilla gardening where they toss seed balls into inner city lots or any area they want to enhance.A thrifty and thoughtful activity indeed!
Just before spring break I liberated some worms from my vermiculture bin for the school garden. This activity was the biggest hit yet.We made worn “habitats” from 4 previously loved styrofoam ice chests complete with cardboard and newspaper bedding, food scraps, coffee grounds and teabags. The squeals of delight from the first group to unveil the red wigglers brought kids running from all corners of the schoolyard. The yard teachers had a heck of a time holding the other children back until it was their turn. And darling Matthew, a kindergardener, just COULD NOT stay away, and when it was finally his chance to participate he wanted to take a “pet worm” home…..not sure how his parents would feel about that!!!
One of the obstacles in creating projects in zone 7b is that the school year ends the first week in June, and trying to come up with projects where they can see the “fruits” of their labor that will spark an interest in gardening in all it’s glory, has me thinking outside my usual “raised garden bed”. I am hopeful that the summer project will come to fruition this year, as money is unfortunately all too often a concern.
That being said,I discovered “The Three Sisters Garden” and it will share its glorious bounty upon the childrens return in the fall. It is a brilliant Native American companion planting method that utilizes corn,beans, and squash.Typically the corn is started first and about 2 weeks later the beans are placed as to spiral up the corn stalks, not only creating support (we tend to get strong winds in Weed,CA.) but also supplying nitrogen for the corn.The squash, and in this case pumpkins for the kids, creates a ground cover preserving precious moisture in the surrounding soil.And the prickly leaves of the squash tends to deter critters.
So when I decided this was a project perfect for us I started to look for sources of seeds for our region and climate. I am big…okay HUGE on using organic non GMO seeds. I was browsing a Siskiyou Seeds catalog and happened upon White Oak farms and education center.I contacted them and they absolutely ROCK!!!!! Not only did Dave send us some stunning Painted Mountain flour corn seeds he had hand-picked, but Julie picked up some pumpkin and bean seeds from a local farmer at the annual seed swap held at the grange in Williams,OR. I got the package when I was a bit down about the weather and upon seeing the package my mood lifted,,,,but when I saw the Painted Mountain flour seeds….. I darn near soiled myself…..they are BEAUTIFUL!!!! These generous souls sent them free of charge!!!!And it doesn’t stop there!!! I also received gifts from friends on Garden-Share.OregonGardenGal donated some 3 dozen “strawberry babies” and Don from Nashville sent some okra seeds!!!
Farmers,gardeners and respectful stewards of Mother Earth are indeed a very generous lot!!!! I plan on doing a seed harvesting project with the kids and “paying it forward”. I, and my youthful gardeners of tomorrow cannot thank-you enough!!! I have had the blissful experience of coming from a place of feeling blue to feeling so deeply renewed and energized!!! OH, I JUST SOILED MYSELF AGAIN!!!!!
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Karen Loves Gardening