Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring Means Dirty Hands

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”—Margaret Atwood

The Green LIONS Garden Group has been busy in the LIONS Garden preparing the soil, weeding what doesn’t belong and planting good things to eat in a couple of months. Farmer John came to both our planting meetings to pass on his wealth of knowledge and guidance to the students.

We spent two meetings planting; one week planting our “direct sow” crops, and the other planting our seedlings. Direct sow crops are plants that require their seeds to be planted directly in the garden soil. Seedlings are plants that do better being gently nurtured to a small size inside or in a greenhouse, then transplanted into the garden. There are some plants that do equally well planted either by seed or by seedlings, like kale and lettuces. We chose to plant seedlings of these plants in the LIONS Garden because our spring growing season is shortened by the school year’s end.

Our direct sow crops included radishes, carrots, beets, turnips and sugar snap peas. We also planted seed potatoes, essentially pieces of sprouted old potatoes, which will grow into potato plants with about 30 potatoes each! GLGG parent representative Dave Rooks built our beautiful new trellises that our sugar snap peas will climb. Students were asked to pay close attention to spacing and depth instructions for each crop to make sure they will grow properly. They also were reminded to consider the height of each plant’s growth to stagger the plants where they would not be shaded by a taller neighbor.

At our next meeting we planted our seedlings which included, lettuces, kale, tatsoi, arugula, scallions and spinach. Students had to determine how many of each plant could fit in a square foot and lay the plants out in a eye-pleasing design. They also were encouraged to consider companion planting rules to make sure plants were planted with growth-encouraging partners.

Farmer John helped the students thin out our overgrown strawberries, transplanting those removed into other spaces in the garden bed. We hope to fill one whole bed with plants of this delicious fruit. And thanks to our partnering girl scout troop we now also have three fruit trees to add to our fruit bounty; a persimmon, peach and native paw-paw.

Now we let nutrient-rich soil, gentle spring rain, and sparkling sunshine do its magic.

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