Inch by Inch Row by Row at The Montessori School

October 25, 2012

Garden notes October 25, 2012

Filed under: Composting,Discovery,Harvesting,Planting — tmsgardener @ 2:01 pm

Garden Blog October 25, 2012

Today the Children’s House students helped to “put the garden to sleep” for the winter. I’m amazed at what can be accomplished with 3, 4 and 5 year old children and 30 minutes of time!!!!

In three of the eight square foot gardens, the children and I pulled the dead plants (zinnia, marigold, tomato, and pepper) are put them on the compost pile. We then turned the soil in the square foot garden (while looking for insects) and planted winter wheat as a weed deterrent. I don’t know if the winter wheat will grow well or not, but we are experimenting.

Serendipitous Finds: Worms, sow bugs, spiders, mushrooms, millipedes and deer footprints.

Joys of the Day: Children harvesting – one radish per class; carrying dried and dead plants together; digging and finding live critters; walking around the garden and delighting in discoveries; collaborating in removing a tomato plant from the tomato frame; gathering leaves to layer with the compost.

We still need to do some work on the other five squares. If the weather holds for next week, Lower Elementary Children will have their turn gardening.

Schedule Note: Lower El children are exploring the stream, and finding the headwaters and the various tributaries in Pine Woods.

~ Dottie Baumgarten, Science Specialist
Otherwise known as, as one child suggested with great anticipation, “Let’s go to Mrs Baum’s garden!”

October 4, 2012

October 4, 2012

Filed under: Discovery,Harvesting,Planting — tmsgardener @ 4:47 pm

Garden Report -  October 4, 2012

We were not in the garden last week because of the weather. This week, we were able to harvest early, before the misty rain dominated the day.

The Delights of Today

There are one huge zucchini, one large zucchini, a dozen tomatoes for human consumption, a dozen tomatoes eaten by an animal or two, zinnia and marigold flowers in abundance and newly planted radish sprouts.The zucchini will be in several recipes in the classrooms sometime this year. It will be preserved for winter use later. Last year we made delicious zucchini bread from the shredded and frozen TMS zucchini.

Next week we have hopes for more harvest! There are a dozen green tomatoes growing, a dozen green peppers, two small zucchini, and some herbs. We shall see if the parsnip, Swiss chard, and carrots follow the radish’s lead by growing from the seeds planted this fall. These cold weather crops could be growing into November, if the weather stays warm enough.

Want to Help?

TMS parents and friends who would like to help in the garden can let the Parent Network know of their volunteer interest. The Sustainable Garden email list will keep parent helpers aware of the garden needs.

Happy Gardening!

Dottie Baumgarten

September Sustainable Garden

Filed under: Harvesting,Planting — tmsgardener @ 4:44 pm

Welcome Back to The Montessori School Sustainable Garden!

September has been a busy month with harvesting, weeding and planting a few cold weather seeds. Here are some of the pictures and stories from the month:

Green beans were still growing in September. We harvested a handful several times.

 

This fall, the large zucchini plant hid several zucchini that were found and harvested. Two are still growing!

While looking for peppers, an insect became the object of study.

Pepper plants provided several peppers.

Tiny red tomatoes (here) and larger green tomatoes (no photo) are growing in the sustainable garden.

Potatoes!

One lone eggplant grew and was harvested.

When we harvested the tiny finger-sized potatoes, everyone who had sustainable science that day was able to feel and pull a potato out of the dirt. These were cooked and tasted in class!

Each child harvested several growing items that were used back in the classroom.

September 28, 2012

Stream study interlude May 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — tmsgardener @ 8:54 am

Stream study interlude:

With the lovely stream available to us, we must do some explorations, taking a day away from gardening for Children’s House and Lower Elementary.  We were streamside in small groups for a lesson for each of the classes. Each child had a plastic spoon, “insect brush” and cup. We turned over rocks and explored under wood chips along the edge of the stream, essentially where the stream started. Different groups found different things including salamanders (the person who catches the salamander with wet hands puts the salamander in a cup with a bit of water, and no one else touches it as we pass the cup around), crayfish, slugs, planaria (flatworm), cranefly larva, cadisfly larva, scuds and more.

 

Garden June 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — tmsgardener @ 8:52 am

The garden is gorgeous! And the weather is spectacular. Most children were able to visit the garden one last time before the summer starts.  We have lovely looking potato plants, strawberries, thriving herbs, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and beans.

We had a tiny bunny in our garden today. We found it’s home in the bean patch. When there were no children around, I attempted to chase the rabbit out of the gate, since it was trapped inside the fence. No such luck. I put on garden gloves and picked it up when it was caught in a tight spot, and put it over the fence. Any bets on whether it makes it’s way into the garden again?

May 15, 2012

Two Tales: Deer Trouble and Sprout Lesson

Filed under: Discovery — tmsgardener @ 4:52 pm

April 19, 2012

Sad news first. The deer ate everything.

 

All those beautiful peas? Gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fine looking arugula? Stripped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Oregano?  Eaten to the root.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I expected that the radish and the lettuce would be nibbled regularly, but wasn’t planning on feeding the wildlife so well.

The good news is that children’s exploration of the garden continues and learning is successful. We move forward, taking natural animal hunger into consideration. It is likely that a ground hog has also participated in the feast. It is likely that birds will go after the beans and strawberries, too. So a couple of plans are in the works and will be posted when we have the deer deterrent plans in place.

Strawberries continue to grow nicely.

The threat to strawberries is when they are deliciously ripe.

The chives and sage are thriving. The sage is in the middle of the bee balm photo.

 

 

 

 

April 26, 2012

What do we do when the rain and weather prevent us from being in the garden? We bring the garden inside! Today’s lesson was on sprouts. We started mung beans sprouting for future tasting. It should take about a week. We viewed a variety of sprouts – potatoes that are ready for planting and volunteer spaghetti squash sprouts from the compost bin. We know they are spaghetti squash volunteers because we put a full, split spaghetti squash in the compost bin earlier this year.

Then we examined soil. Two sources of soil were brought in- soil from a well-developed, healthy, open air, compost bin, and soil from the woods. Both sources were more “humus” than “top soil”. The children answered the question, “What is in soil?” by digging and sorting their found items. Sticks, sprouts, different types of leaves, roots, acorn tops, crab apple seeds, stones, a bit of trash, petals, and a variety of insects were all discovered and sorted. Through digging and sorting, children were building science understanding and math skills, too!

 

 

 

April 20, 2012

Dottie’s Gardening Notes, April 19, 2012

Filed under: Planting — tmsgardener @ 2:51 pm  Tagged ,

Square 1, the Herb Garden, had an over abundance of bee balm from last year. The bee balm needs to be elsewhere. So, we removed all of the bee balm, and replanted a bit of it in the toddler yard and under a tree by the back door, with a healthy dose of water. The oregano and chives look healthy and thriving. The sage will need to grow back. Did the rosemary survive? We shall see! Expected plantings are: parsley, thyme and sweet basil.

Square 2 has two different kinds of peas growing. We will need a growing frame before too long!

Square 3 has radishes and several types of lettuce. Something is eating all of the radish tops! Could it be a rabbit? There is a rabbit bed in the herb garden! The lettuce seems to be partially eaten, also. There are two large arugula plants from last year, a tasty treat for two legged garden workers! Plans are for flowers after the lettuce dies back.

Square 4 has strawberries! I don’t know who planted them last fall, but they are thriving! Both the peas and the strawberries benefit from salt hay lying between the plants as a weed deterrent.

Squares 5 and 7 are topped with salt hay, waiting to be planted. There are plans for tomatoes and peppers when the weather is ready.

Square 6 has temporary plants for use elsewhere on TMS property. When they find their permanent home, the plan is for zucchini!

Square 8 was planted with green beans today! Half of the square is unplanted. Perhaps Swiss chard or red beets are in order.

Other topics:

The walkways need weeding and new woodchips. There were bags of pine nuggets left for our use, so these will be added sometime soon.

Watering may need to happen (on Mondays?) regularly. We can regularly water on Thursdays during Sustainable Science time.

Toddler house has a raised bed! Toddlers planted beans, radishes and red beets today. One square is planted and one square is available for digging! A tomato and a pepper plant are planned for the near future.

Is your family interested in helping in the garden? There are times when extra help is welcome. See the TMS Friday Flyer to sign up for the Garden newsletters!

March 8, 2012

Turning Compost February 23, 2012

Filed under: Composting,Discovery,Planting — tmsgardener @ 9:44 am  Tagged ,

February 23, 2012: Compost!

Top layer of compost- food scraps

Today we were able to turn the compost. TMS has four compost bins, two at each end of the school – near the toddler section and also beside the sustainable garden. When one enclosed compost bin is full, the other compost bin can be used. This allows one bin to mature without daily additions. We alternate which compost bin is being used, thus providing more time for the compost to mature.

With children’s house and lower elementary students, we took the top and middle layer of the “bee hive” shaped compost bin off, and worked with the bottom layer of compost.

Sifting the bottom layer of compost

Mixing the new compost into the soil

The rich compost was sifted, which allowed for the smaller sized, nutrient rich compost to be collected. The larger sized pieces of compost were returned to the compost bin for more time to decompose.

Sifting Compost

The sifted, rich compost was mixed in with the sustainable garden soil. We removed the salt hay that protected the soil during the winter, added the compost, and placed the salt hay back on the garden.

The weather is now so warm that next week we can experiment with planting lettuces and early season crops.

We will plant when we have a Thursday without rain!

Sifting Compost

Adding Compost to Sustainable Garden

 

Finished Compost

 

 

February 2, 2012

Winter Cooking

Filed under: Discovery,Harvesting,Herbs — tmsgardener @ 8:45 pm  Tagged ,

Mint tea from the garden

Yum! Zucchini bread, mint tea and tomato pie! In the middle of January, delicious, local food is welcome.

MINT TEA

While the sustainable garden at The Montessori School rests for the winter, the food that we preserved in the fall is available. This week, we drank mint tea. The children helped dry the mint leaves in the fall, and tea was served during our Sustainable Science lesson this week.

Recipe for drying leaves:

Rinse mint tea leaves, lay out on dehydrator, dry. Crush when dried.

Recipe for making tea (as requested by a student):

1 Tablespoon dried leaves per 8 ounces of water. Steep tea in boiling water for 4 minutes. Strain, add choice of sweetener, and serve.

Drying food for preservation

 

PRESERVING FOOD BY DRYING

The dehydrator was used in the fall to preserve  oregano, sage, chives, parsley, and dill from The Montessori School Sustainable Garden and mint from the Baumgarten family garden. During the lesson this week, apples were available for dehydrating.

Recipe for dehydrating apples:

Wash, peel and thinly slice apples. Lay out on dehydrator so that the slices do not overlap. Dry for 8 hours or until the apples feel like raisins (brittle is too dried). Store in an air tight container.

 

Winter roots

WINTER ROOTS

Wintertime fresh seasonal food is the food that stores well over time. Apples are good local fruit that store well. Roots are good local vegetables that store well. Today we viewed, handled, and talked about red beets, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, onions and rutabagas.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Recipe:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-vegetables/.

Substitute 1 tsp dried herbs for the fresh ones, as is seasonal. Once you roast vegetables, play around with the herbs, and suit your taste and your pantry.

 

Zucchini bread (TMS zucchini)

ZUCCHINI BREAD

Last fall the children picked zucchini from the TMS garden and shredded zucchini during a food preservation lesson.

This week we made and ate zucchini bread using 2 cups of frozen TMS zucchini.

The recipe can be found at this link: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/moms-zucchini-bread/.

Besides linking food to our own garden, cooking is a fantastic sequencing, measuring and skill-developing activity!

Tomato pie

 

HERBS FROM TMS GARDEN

The children made tomato sauce using one quart of home canned tomato sauce (Baumgarten garden) and 1 Tbs of TMS dried sage, oregano, red basil, chives, and parsley. These were cooked in a crock pot for 3 hours. The children also made pizza dough using active dry yeast.

Home canning

 

TOOLS OF FOOD PRESERVATION

Home canning supplies were displayed, handled and briefly demonstrated. The magnetic lid lifter was a hit!

All in all, TMS Lower Elementary children participated in cooking winter food from fall preserved vegetables and herbs.

I can’t wait to plant the 2012 Sustainable Garden!

 

December 27, 2011

Winter Gardening

Filed under: Herbs — tmsgardener @ 3:07 am  Tagged ,

Enjoy the seasons! Celebrate the seasons!

Children deserve to understand the world that we live in, including that at different times of the year, our life on the earth is substantially different.

In the middle of the winter, we will not be able to go outside and collect tomatoes, squash, flowers and lettuce.  This is the time of the year to eat from foods that have been preserved.

At TMS, we preserved herbs from the sustainable garden, and we saved zucchini in the freezer.  Sometime in January, these foods will be used at school to make something- perhaps zucchini bread; certainly mint tea; perhaps a tomato sauce using the herbs.  We shall see. The pictured herbs – basil, mint, oregano, dill, chives, parsley, sage – are both from TMS, and from my husband’s garden at home. These pictured herbs are in use in Children’s House as part of sensory explorations.

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