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Starla’s Garden Adventures #2

Well, Summer has arrived and things are heating up.   This is  garden2.0 in my raised beds .  The radishes and carrots were eradicated on Mothers Day, and now, a month later considerations of “what next” crosses my mind.

The last vestiges of the Fall garden,1.0 are waning. The onions , still in the ground have not become very bulbous, but the green tops will make a nice addition to a summer salad– the kale needs to come out but hasn’t quite made the trip  – And then there is the dill – It  has reached to the sky and given us a beautiful show of  delicate green but now it is very sad looking, with brown clumps of dill seeds hanging on the  umbels.

dill Starla

Yes, it is time to come out– it’s in the way of my path, it’s ugly and it must go …But wait,– hold on,  after making the decision to remove,  but before I yanked it out,  I spy not one, but 2 caterpillars munching on the dill seeds while enjoying the morning sun!   This plant must stay, at least a few days longer to house the honored guests.   So much for a neat and tidy garden right now – Maybe garden 3.0.

The Honored Guest: A Black Swallowtail Caterpillar on Dill

The Honored Guest:
A Black Swallowtail Caterpillar on Dill

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans, are putting on new growth and blossoms  The tomatoes are surviving  — I wouldn’t say thriving, but they are not dead and gone  — I even get a few golden and red gems that never seem to make it back to the house.

The cucumbers were planted sinfully late, but are climbing up the wrought iron fence and acting like they want to perform. I must remember to water regularly, but with a trip planned, not sure how that is going to go.  But I continue, learning with each step and misstep, and enjoying the journey.

Thus continues the saga of this little garden that brings me joy in the most unexpected ways.

Starla

 

 

My Garden Journey

In my first five years as a Dallas County Master Gardener (class of 2011), I have learned and experienced so much from working at our demonstration gardens; however, I had never attempted growing vegetables at home except in pots until this past fall when I saw sunlight streaming in a section of the backyard after a tree had been removed.

So this new adventure began – raised beds were found, plants were purchased and the garden grew – well some of it grew…

Brocolli by StarlaBroccoli and cabbage went in first along with a few herbs, followed by lettuce and arugula in October. I had some success with broccoli, but not so much with the cabbage, lettuce or arugula ( they bolted). Radishes and carrots were planted from seeds. After the first of the year onions were added and then potatoes came and went (I had the wrong soil, so they never sprouted).  There was minimal success with the radishes (not properly thinned), but the carrots – I waited, looking for a glimpse of the carrots(roots)? under the leafy tops — until right before Mother’s day, and then I pulled them. Once again the results were mixed;  I had a range of carrots from 1/4 inch to over 6-7 inches long  and counted 26 of the prettiest multicolored carrots I have ever grown.

Homegrown Carrots

Homegrown Carrots

This summer I’m trying things that we will eat as a family – tomatoes, peas, green beans , peppers. I have a space for cucumbers with hopes to make pickles like my family put up years ago.  My beds are few in number but just right for my learning curve. You can take this journey. it takes some planning, a little time and patience, but is well worth the effort.

Here are a few of the things I’ve gleaned from my raised beds:

  • Gardening with a group of people brings a broader depth of expertise
  • Information—ask questions, listen and apply–repeat.
  • Realize early on that everything won’t go according to plans. Don’t dwell on failures, but learn from them  — water properly, use the correct soil, compost, mulch, weed…
  • Celebrate success, no matter how small–they are victories!
  • Try new things, take notes (my garden journal currently has one entry, several months back, but there is value in the process)
  • Trial and error is another way of learning
  • Share your story, your experience, and the fruit of your labor —
  • Enjoy the adventure!

Starla

 

“Nature Deficit Disorder”

Happy New Year from

The Earth-Kind® WaterWise Demonstration Garden

 on Joe Field Road. 

We hope you will take steps in 2013 to cure Nature Deficit Order.

 Book a trip our garden!

Excerpts from the Great American Campout website and American Academy of Pediatrics: 

  • An “indoor childhood” hurts bodies & spirits.
  • Today’s kids are more likely to “tag” a friend on Facebook than outdoors in a game of “freeze tag.”
  • Kids today run from school to activities to sports w/ barely a minute to catch their breath.  Loss of free time can contribute to stress, anxiety, & depression in children. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Studies show being outdoors is the perfect anecdote.  Time in green spaces reduces children’s tension levels & enhances their social interactions, helping them to feel more connected to self and others. 

Learning in the Garden 

Sources cited:

  • Growing Food LiFE Curriculum Series
  •  Botany on Your Plate (Univ. of CA & NGA)
  •  Math in the Garden (Univ. of CA & NGA)

A Grace Academy Student Enjoying Learning and Nature At The Demonstration Garden

Using a garden helps teach the core concepts to diverse learners in an untraditional setting and grow into a relevant teaching tool. 

Simple truths about working w/ students in a garden setting: 

  • Students can better understand their environment by exploring it and hone their knowledge and skills while doing so.
  • An “outdoor learning center/classroom” creates a destination, a reason to outdoors.
  • Enhancing the outdoor learning center creates a schoolyard habitat: “If you build it, they will come.”
  • Students become stewards, stakeholders, creators by having a stake in planning and sustaining a school garden.
  • Gardening fosters teamwork, builds community, encourages sharing and understanding which in turn, creates decision-makers and problem-solvers.
  • Gardens are multi-sensory environments; students can use all of their senses to observe, predict, and understand how the world works.
  • Connections are created w/ the natural world & our region’s uniqueness.
  • Interdisciplinary learning is possible – connects Math, History, Language Arts (journaling, botanical names/Latin roots), Creative Arts, Social Sciences (bio-diversity and interdependence in plant and animal communities as in human communities), Life Sciences (nutrition, healthy choices, life skills). 

A garden setting is ripe for inquiry learning, doing & thinking rather than learning a set of predetermined facts by rote.  Einstein said the most important thing is to never stop asking questions.  Knowing how to find answers to those questions is every bit as important as knowing the answers.  

Since the early 1970s, research on how students learn Science stressed the importance of starting instruction based upon student perceptions & experiences.  In other words, you start w/ what they know or perceive to know and make meaningful connections between new knowledge and existing knowledge.  What teachers need to remember is children build their ideas over many years of explorations.  They tend to hold onto these ideas/beliefs tenaciously.  Time and countless repetitions (in large groups, small groups, or individually) are needed for them to examine new evidence, new explanations and new ideas and draw meaningful connections w/ their preexisting knowledge.  For new concepts to take root, they must make sense and fit into the students’ experiences that have been created outside the classroom. 

Unfortunately, Science is taught by “rote learning.”  No consideration is given to what science ideas students might bring to the classroom.  To cultivate meaningful learning of real world concepts, we need to draw upon their experiences, whether the experiences are misconceptions or incomplete learning, & connect the content currently being taught to their world. 

Science in the Garden can encompass the following concepts:

Humans rely upon a world of complex systems – the Earth, its ecosystems, its food systems.  Human activities impact our natural world for better or worse.  In a garden, students can grow food while maintaining a living lab.  They can investigate & monitor weather changes & the impact on a garden ecosystem.  Or, they might study decomposition, observe life cycles (seed to food, egg to butterfly), or see how matter and energy flow through ecosystems (the process of food production and the release of energy). 

Math in the Garden: allows students to hone their mathematics knowledge and skills to carry out investigations in the garden environment.  This is an untapped source of patterns, comparisons, problem-solving, measurement, number operations, Algebra, Geometry, and data analysis. 

At the base of all of this is Journaling, keeping an account of the natural world around you. Your Journal will be a guide, developed over a period of time, of noticing and noting changes, monthly and seasonally, of life cycle events.

Annette

“Nature Is My Life”

Journaling is an integral component of the educational program offered by the Demonstration Garden.  Our Nature Journals, made from recycled materials are constructed by our student visitors and  personalized to reflect their connections with the garden.   A 5th grader from West Dallas Community School proudly proclaims, “Nature is My Life.”  Her journal became her memory book of observations, descriptions, illustrationsand  connections; a special way of carrying a piece of the garden home with her.

Annette and picture by Starla

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