Friday, April 16, 2010

School gardens offer inspiration

This week I’ve been working on an article about school gardens and my visits to the schools have inspired me. About 15 years ago when I did some similar articles, I primarily found native gardens designed to attract birds or butterflies. Certainly, native gardens are a wonderful teaching tool and they restore natural habitat to our environment with plants that require less care and water than others.

Since then, many schools have expanded their gardening efforts to also include composting of cafeteria waste, collecting water in rain barrels, recycling and growing vegetables. Their efforts not only teach the students about science and where that food from the grocery comes from, it also provides a way for them to connect with one another, nature and God while doing something that is sustainable for the long term. What a powerful combination!

Most of these schools take the organic approach to gardening, which I’ve also been studying a little further this week as some of my plants come up and I wait to plant more seed. I’m trying a combination of bone meal (three parts), blood meal (two parts) and kelp meal (one part) that is a recommended mixture that should have the balance most gardens need. I found the bone meal and blood meal locally, but had to order the kelp meal online.

I also stopped by a greenhouse this week that carries Neptune’s Harvest fish fertilizer. (When I asked for fish fertilizer, the clerk thought I wanted to fertilize fish in an aquarium.) It’s a good all-around fertilizer. I use it on my plants once they’ve established themselves nicely.

The warm weather has been tempting me to plant more, but I know the cold could yet return. I’m still holding out until May to plant most of what I have yet to do. And in the meantime, I’ll keep watering my sprouting plants and remembering the joy of a third-grade student who shouted to his classmates when he uncovered a wiggling red worm in the soil.

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