Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

      Today we totally transformed the garden where the garlic was growing into a new space for parsley, cilantro and the next wave of cucumbers. After harvesting the garlic yesterday, we tilled the soil to mix in the leaf mulch and to kill the weeds that were growing. Then we re-formed the beds and planted parsley and cilantro seedlings and cucumber seeds. When one crop is harvested and another crop is planted in its place, it is called "succession planting" and it is one of the ways to maximize your garden's yield. Ideally, the crop to follow should be a different type of crop. For example, you could plant a leaf crop like lettuce followed by a root crop like carrots because different types of vegetables deplete the soil of different nutrients.
     A group of us were able to get the dried oregano into storage and then put the sweet basil that was drying on racks into the dehydrators. So far, we've really been able to keep up with herb harvest, drying and storage! We also started harvesting from the dye garden. Today we picked Dyer's Coreopsis flowers that will be used as a source of natural gold dye by our handwork teachers who teach our first graders to knit using the hand-dyed wool yarn.                        -Celia

Looking Back:

"I had lots of fun. I heard noises that were scary and Tamara and Carly said it was a ghost. I love picking flowers and watering the strawberries. I caught a fly named Fred and helped him out." - Trinity

"Where's the rain?" - Julia

"The sun gets brighter every day" - Carly

"Willie is a lover, not a fighter" - Edward

"Who ate the chips?" (Willie did) - Karen

"A broken hose turned into a slip 'n slide" - Willie

"We are still in search of the great organic, all-powerful, non-chemical pesticide!" - Colin

"Water fight!!" - Tamara

"My favorite memories of the day were seeing Willie gleefully running through a spurting leak in the irrigation and seeing Tamara and Trinity walking around arm-in-arm" - Celia

Carly harvests Dyer's Coreopsis

Trinity with her pet fly, Fred

Carley, Karen and Tamara harvest all the flowers for dye

Stripping the dried oregano off the stems

Willie uses his shoe to measure one foot between parsley plants!

Working to transform the garlic beds into a new garden with cucumbers, cilantro and parsley.
Notice how we worked around some beautiful volunteer sunflowers instead of pulling them out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

We started the day by checking the bird houses to make sure that the house sparrows and starlings weren't moving in. These two species of birds are not native to the United States and are responsible for taking nesting spots from our beneficial native birds. We were happy to see the nests of wrens, bluebirds and tree swallows. The bird box that Tamara built this spring was full of baby bluebirds almost ready to fledge! One box had a little mouse that didn't run away when we opened the box, so we let him stay.
      Today we also harvested the garlic. Garlic is harvested when it still has 5 green leaves. Each green leaf will become a paper "wrapper" that will protect the garlic while in storage. The aroma of it as we harvested made us all hungry for some good, garlicky food. It was layed out to dry for a few weeks.
      Other accomplishments for the day were; weeding the pumpkin patch, tilling the old galic beds, storing the dried Holy Basil, putting the oregano into the dehydrator to finish drying it and weeding the vegetable garden. At the end we all sampled some goat cheese and decided that we are going to do some cheese making this summer.                       -Celia

Looking Back:

"Sunscreen is your best friend" - Megan

"I love gardening because you get to eat stuff and smell stuff and there's lots of beetles and flowers that you can smell. I love sunflowers. It was really fun today. We got to pick garlic" - Trinity

"Allergies + beetles = a no-no" - Tamara

"Oregano wakes you up!" - Willie

"Sunburn is painful. Quite so" - Carly

"Carly and I would love to continue weeding tomorrow!" - Julia

"Meet me in the pumpkin patch Charlie Brown" - Karen

"The oregano is almost dry" - Colin

"I love you guys!!" - Celia

Megan, our new bird prodigy, ispects one of our 17 birdhouses

Tamara working hard

Willie, Carly and Julia weeding the veggies

A little mouse living in one of the bird houses

The garlic harvest!!

Edward and Jacob bringing up the garlic

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday, June 27th, 2011

      Today we had a very busy day. Jacob, Edward, Megan and Willie finished and then tested the irrigation system and it works marvelously!! The plants and I thank you all! Drip irrigation is a great water saver because it waters only where you need it on the tops of the beds and the slow dripping action allows the water to sink deeply to the roots. Tamara, Karen, Carly and Trinity (Karen''s daughter) harvested sweet basil and hung it on the drying rack in neat, little fragrant bundles. Julia, Colin and I worked on weeding the beans and corn and replanting bean seeds where there were spaces in the rows. Then we all worked on harvesting oregano to be dried. THEN we actually posted this blog! Thanks again Colin. When we come back on Wednesday - GARLIC!!                -Celia

Looking Back:

"That was fun and hot and really hard and interesting. It was fun to cut the basil. It was really fun!" - Trinity

"I can't wait until the tomatoes ripen!" - Karen

"Wow! We accomplished a lot today!" - Celia

"The irrigation system is done. 13 psi and strong!" - Colin

Edward, Jacob, Megan and Willie hoeing the broom corn

Tamara, Willie, Carly, Trinity, Karen and Megan bundling sweet basil

Julia hoeing beans

Willie and Karen hanging the basil bundles

Tucking tomatoes and harvesting basil

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

      Today we accomplished two major tasks: Harvesting an entire row of Holy Basil and installing the irrigation. Karen, Carly and Tamara snipped back the Holy Basil and ended up with two tables covered in the the lovely scented leaves. Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) is used as a tea and is said to reduce anxiety and increase clarity of thought. We agreed that just smelling the plant did those things and we look forward to trying the tea after it has dried. Willie, Jacob, Edward and Megan worked on installing the irrigation, which is a tedious task that saves a lot of time watering later on. They learned about how it all fit together and by the 5th row they had become like a well-oiled machine, each person doing a task that, together, got the job done. On Monday we will finish up and then test the system. Colin has been working tirelessly on getting this blog up and running and I appreciate his patience with my techo-ineptitude. -Celia

Looking Back:

"Irrigation is irritation!" -the irrigation team

"Holy Basil makes a heavenly scent" - Colin

"God bless the Holy Basil" - Karen

"Food for the heart and stomach" - Tamara

"A Holy Basil leaf a day keeps the stress away" - Carly

Karen and Tamara with the Holy Basil

Tamara and Carly harvesting the Holy Basil
(notice the newly installed irrigation!)

Installing the irrigation - almost done!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      When we walked through the garden today, we got to introduce it to our new workers: Jacob, Edward, Tamara, Willie and Megan. We did our weekly bird check and, according to Mrs. Martin's definition, some of us became "Bird Prodigies" because of our ability to quickly identify which kind of bird lived in each box just by looking at the nest. Birds are an excellent way to control unwanted insects in the garden. Swallows eat flying insects and bluebirds and wrens eat caterpillars. After checking the 17 birdhouses that are spaced around the garden perimeter, we weeded and mulched the gourds and the beans. First, some of us took stirrup hoes and just went around the beds loosening up the soil and eliminating of the small weeds. The rest of us went to the gigantic mulch pile and started loading and hauling wheelbarrow upon wheelbarrow of mulch. Even with about eight of us altogether, it took several hours to get the job done (give or take a nice water break here and there due to the hot weather). -Colin  

Looking Back:

"Perserverence is key." -Carly

"Yabba Dabba Do, we're done!" -Willie

"Swallows are a garden's best friend." -Megan

"You are what you eat." -Tamara

"It was a warm day today, and there will be many more to come" -Colin

Inspecting the weeding and mulching job
Jacob and Willie with lots of mulch

The beautiful result

Our "Mountain of mulch"

Monday, June 20th, 2011

      Today we looked at the garden and realized that two tasks needed to get done. We had to weed a lot in the vegetable garden and we also had to mulch the vegetable garden. Mrs. Martin then decided to ask Mrs. Flores, Carly, Julia and myself who would like to do which tasks. Julia and Carly decided to weed and the rest of us decided to mulch. The mulch that the garden uses is not the kind you buy at a store. We get it from Royersford Borough and it mostly contains leaves. Mulching prevents weeds and helps to keep the soil moist. It was during this time that Mrs. Martin and Mrs. Flores both realized what it meant to be mulching with Crocs on. (see the Looking Back section below) By the end of the morning, Julia and Carley had weeded the entire vegetable garden! -Colin
Looking Back:

"Crocs + No Socks + Mulch = really dirty feet!" -Mrs. Martin

"Can't wait to eat the ripe tomatoes!" -Mrs. Flores

"Gotta love mulching!" -Colin

"Gardening is one of the brilliances of life!" -Carly

Julia weeding the vegetables

Carley weeding in the squash patch

Dirty feet (see "Looking Back", above)

Friday, June 17th, 2011

      Today was the day we decided to check up on the birdhouses. We found many different kinds of nests from the wren, to the tree swallow, to the bluebird, and even some mouse nests that needed to be removed. The other main focus of the day was weeding. We weeded and thinned the cucumbers, the popcorn, the broom corn, the squash and the gourds. Then while Mrs. Martin, Carley and Julia planted calendula, I was put in charge of spraying the potatoes. The solution we used was "designed for organic use" and seemed to do the job. I used a hand-pump sprayer to get the job done.  The potatoes are safe for now! -Colin


Rows of potatoes

Monday, June 13th, 2011

      Today was our first day working in the garden. We walked around the whole garden to see what needed to be done today. When we got to the raspberries, we saw that they were practically being swallowed by weeds. Mrs. Martin, Carly and myself (Colin) started out by weeding all three rows and putting the weeds into wheelbarrows. Then I took them into the composting pile behind the greenhouse. After we finished weeding, Carly and Mrs. Martin started to mulch the rows while I began to weedwhack the other areas. All in all it was a good day. -Colin

Each day we like to look back on the day and offer thoughts about the experience. We will have a section in each of these posts of those thoughts called "Looking Back"

Looking Back:

"That was fun!" -Colin

"There were miles of bindweed!" -Carly

"We saved the raspberries and did an awesome job doing it." -Mrs. Martin

The newly weeded raspberry rows.

An Introduction

      Nestled on the hillside behind the school's main campus and playing fields is the Kimberton Waldorf Schools' two-acre garden. There you will find our vegetable garden which contains tomatoes, peppers, onions, squash, beans, potatoes and much, much more. The produce is used to provide organic ingredients to our "Food For Thought Garden to Kitchen" lunch program which strives to obtain locally and organically grown produce. The garden also contains eight curved beds called the "Herb Circle" with many varieties of culinary and medicinal herbs used for teas, salves, or as nectar and foliage sources for butterflies, bees and caterpillars. There are of 60 fruit trees in the garden, almost all espaliered in "fan", "Belgian Fence" or "Tunnel" designs. It has become our tradition for the community to gather for a day in August each year to harvest, wash and cook baskets and baskets of apples for applesauce which is then frozen for later use in our lunch program.
      The Garden also contains a dye garden in which our handwork teachers harvest roots, leaves and flowers of dye plannts to color their yarns which the students will then use to knit, crochet and weave into beautiful and useful objects such as hats, scarves or pouches. At the far corner of the garden, you'll find six hives of honey bees, each colored in its own pastel shade with busy bees quickly flying in and out.
      During the school year, our garden is maintained by our students who walk across the fields for "gardening class." They sow the seeds, create raised beds, prune, transplant, water, weed, and mulch. By the time school lets out in early June, the garden has been transformed from a barren space into a beautiful and productive oasis. But who takes care of the garden during the summer when school is out? That's what this blog is all about.

      -Celia Martin
       Gardening Teacher/ Summer Boss
       "I am so happy to have help in the garden this summer. I have been the garden's teacher at KWS for three years and maintaining the garden over the summer has always been a challenge. It is great to have our own students caring for the garden and getting this great experience of seeing the garden from spring through summer and into the fall. We will work hard, get dirty, and learn a lot."

      -Karen Flores
       KFS/KWS Graduate, Class of '79, Manager for "Food For Though Garden to Lunch Program"
       "I am working with Celia, Julia, Colin, Carly and the Triskeles group in the School Garden to be a part of the whole process of garden seeding to plant to harvest to kitchen to lunch to compost and back to the garden."

      -Julia Noack
       KWS Student, Class of 2011
      "I am a graduate of Kimberton Waldorf School, class of 2011,and I will be attending Juniata College in the fall. I have volunteered many hours over the years at the KWS Garden, working with the plants, birds, and honey bees. I have always had a huge love for organic gardening, having grown up with a large garden myself, and wanted to pass on that love to as many people as possible."

       -Carly Landis
       KWS Student, Class of 2012
       "As an upcoming senior at the KWS High School, the garden has always been my favorite part of the campus. Working with the crops is not only therapeutic, but it also permits my understanding of botany to flourish. Plants facinate me, and having the opportunity to experience the garden's development from spring to fall is awe-inspiring. Not only am I glad to see the growth in myself, but I am thrilled to be surrounded by my fantastic co-workers. We have a lot of memories to share and there is never a dull moment. Knowing that our hard work is going for a good cause (our Food For Thought Program and our local community) makes every energy-filled bead of sweat fall like a deserved gift. I couldn't think of a better way to spend the summer!"

      -Colin MacKenzie
       KWS Student, Class of 2012,
       "I am one of the gardeners and I am also a student of Kimberton Waldorf School. I wanted to work in the garden to have some extra time working in the soil just like I did during the school year in gardening class. For me, the garden is probably the only thing that will get a high school student like myself up and out of bed at 7 AM on my summer vacation. This garden is an amazing place, and everyone deserves to see it."

      -Tamara Griffen
      Summer Gardener
      "I attend Owen J. Roberts High School. I will be going into my senior year. This year will be my fourth year in the Food For Thought Program. The program insires me to make healthy choices and look at gardening as a benefit for our society."

      -Megan Hester
       Summer Gardener
      "I just graduated from High School this June, and I will be attending college in the fall. In my spare time, I love to read and play around with different types of music, but I love science. I am doing this program because I like working with people who work really hard to prosper the lives of local and non-local people."

      -Edward von Mehlen
       Summer Gardener
       "I'm 16 years old and I will be a junior in High School next year. This is my first year working here and I hope it will be a good experience. I live in Philadelphia so normally I wouldn't be able to do this, but I am staying at Jacob's house for most of the summer."

      -Jacob Tucker
       KWS Graduate, Class of 2011
       "I just graduated from Kimberton Waldorf School and I'm taking a gap year. During my gap year I will be a part of World-Wide Organic Opportunities Farming in Italy. I like programs like this one because I get to see all of my hard work pay off."

      -Willie Williams
       Summer Gardener
       "I just graduated from Owen J. Roberts High School this year. This is my fourth year in the Food For Thought Program and I like doing this program because I get the chance to cook. I like cooking what we have harvested for other people."

Our beehives

Our Crew