Thursday, December 12, 2013

Seasons greetings from the Garden!

Hello there Gardeners!  

Lots has happened since our last post!  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving break and now we are almost ready for our Winter Vacation!  

As you may have noticed we have several nights that have reached freezing temperatures, this weather is great for pretty color changes in the leaves on the trees, but not so great for many of our warmer weather plant friends.  The cucumber, basil and some of the bean plants did not take well to these cold temperatures and if we want to save them next year we will try building some "cold frames" to protect them.  However, our lettuce, cauliflower, some beans, carrots and even some tomatoes continue to grow and ripen.  If you are out in the garden take a look at the center of the cauliflower plants and you will see little white heads growing!

We had fun making "green smoothies" and pizza with some of our first and third graders, check us out in the pics making pizza and trying smoothies!  We even had some fun lessons from Mr. Feriante during our "garden to kitchen" day in Mrs. Higuera's class!  We even learned new words, "diameter" is the distance across a circle, and we learned the word "improvise" when we needed to find something to spread our pizza sauce, and we learned that it is "improvisar" in Spanish which is a cognate, a word that is similar in English and Spanish!  

Improvisecreate and perform (music, drama, or verse) spontaneously or without preparation.
DiameterA straight line segment passing through the center of a figure, especially of a circle or sphere, and terminating at the periphery.

Second grade also made a delicious vegetable soup for their "Ugly Vegetable" book and were able to come out to the garden and pick some some green beans that we were able to use in the soup!

We hope to have some yummy cauliflower that we can cook up with the students soon.  If any faculty have recommendations or would like to do some cooking or lessons in the garden please let me know!

We just started our garden adventure a few short months ago and have already learned, tasted and experienced so much!  I look forward to working with you all in the new year and planning our crops for the spring season!  

Also if you know any parents or staff who would like to be more involved in the garden please let me know we welcome all participation!

Thank you!


Making pizza with our little Chefs in Ms. Rodriguez class.

Our lettuce, cauliflower and carrots love this cold weather!

Mr. Feriante with some tricky questions!

Almost everyone loved the smoothies and even asked for more!

Our basil is not too happy but the other herbs don't seem to mind the cold.

A baby head of cauliflower, it will be fun to watch it grow!

Can you see that the lettuce we harvested is not tall and "gone to seed."

Poor cucumbers...

This bean is looking ready to munch on!

This one too, it is a sugar snap pea!

Our little tomatoes are still trying to ripen despite the cold and cloudy days!

Our first carrot, it is a "stubby carrot!"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Our first garden to kitchen day!

I hope you are all ready for our first Arctic Blast, it is going to be a chilly night!  Luckily, our vegetables all like the cold and will not be too bothered by the cooler temperatures, although the tomatoes might get a bit droopy...

So I am pleased to report that we had our first kitchen to garden experience with Mrs. Mann and Ms. Conant's classes.  The kids came out to the garden and helped harvest the lettuce that we used to make our delicious and nutritious smoothies.  We used the fresh herb mix for our pizza's that we had prepared by picking the basil and oregano from the garden, drying it and grinding it up into a spice mix.  The kids all helped to make the pizzas and did a great job enjoying them as well!  We were able to observe how something can go from a solid to liquid state while we were making our smoothies and how heat changed the state of the pizzas!

I am looking forward to working with 2nd grade and their vegetable soup project as well as with the 3rd grade who are to thank for all the delicious green beans that have been growing!

Please let me know if you would like to have a green smoothie day with your class or perhaps some fresh lettuce wraps as we have lots of lettuce that needs to be eaten, or perhaps a faculty member would like some fresh lettuce for a salad!

I will be in the garden this Friday if you would like to schedule a time for an activity, I have some great books and other ideas for investigations for older grades as well.

See you Friday!

Here are some pictures from this past week as well as the recipe for "green" smoothies.

2 cups of chopped lettuce, spinach or kale
2 cups of Vanilla Almond milk
1 bag of frozen fruit, mango, banana and pinneapple mix
Sweeten with honey or agave syrup to taste, we used 2 tablespoons
Mr. Ferriante tending to garden!

Happy bean plants and flowering cucumber plants.

You can see the bean plant is almost half way up the fence!

Yummy green smothies!

Our work in progress.

Nothing like fresh spices on a pizza!

Even our youngest garden helper loved his snack!

Our bountiful harvest.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy November!

Happy November!

Now that fall is officially here and we have been having lots of rain, our garden life has been changing.  The most noticeable change has been in the watering, we have had to do much less watering as we have had more rain and lower temperatures, allowing the soil to retain the moisture for longer.  You can really see how much our fall plants have been enjoying this cooler weather.  However, the tomatoes are missing their long warm days.  We have many tomatoes on the vine that have not ripened as we have had less direct sun and cooler temps, hopefully they will ripen before it gets colder but if not we might just have some "fried green tomatoes!"

This Friday we will be harvesting some of our butter lettuce for some "green smoothies" as well as making some simple pizzas using our garden grown spice mix!!!  We will be doing this in Ms. Mann's class.

We also have several green beans growing and some green peppers that will be ready to eat soon as well.  If you would like to have a garden in the kitchen activity please let myself or Ms. Mann know!  There are many simple ways we can use what we have growing in the kitchen, a great way to show the effects of heat and how it can change the state and properties of the food.

Please contact me if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a specific time or activity that I can help with in the garden!  Otherwise the garden is always open and it is yours to utilize or simply just enjoy!  Here are a few ideas for ways to use the garden quickly and effectively.

Have the kids write a "bio" poem - This can be a simple short poem focusing on rhyming.

Do a color scavenger hunt, split the kids into teams of 3 and assign each team a color and have them bring back 3 examples of that color.

Map the garden or use organic items to glue on a map of Texas or the Continents.

Measure and graph the growth of the plants.

Cook up a simple dish using fresh or dried herbs from the garden!  See what happens to fresh herbs once they are exposed to heat or cold!!??

The green peppers are on their way!

A lovely fall morning!

The cauliflower plants are thriving!

Morning dew... ask your students why this happens!?

The lettuce is ready to eat!

The cucumber is flowering and should be ready soon!

Anyone like pickles?

Green beans!

Snap peas!

Maybe a green bean casserole!?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall fun in the garden!

Happy fall!

Two cheers for cooler weather!  Time for hot cocoa and even some long sleeves, surviving the Houston summer is always an accomplishment, for us and the plants!

Well I am pleased to report that the garden is doing wonderful, all the plants are enjoying the cooler weather, frequent rain and cooler soil.  Although the tomatoes are taking a bit longer to ripen because we have not had as much direct sun as they would like.

During my garden investigation yesterday I saw some some huge tomatoes, some round ones, small ones and oval or grape shaped ones, a few are starting to ripen but most are still a week or so away.  Good news!  Our green peppers are growing we counted four of them yesterday as well as the first green beans, both the sugar snaps we planted from seed and the transplants that the third graders started in the classroom.  The lettuce, cucumber and cauliflower will not be far behind!

We also saw some free spirited plants that decided to take root outside of the garden bed, a process that we can investigate further and learn just how they managed to travel and take root???

Also our herbs are doing phenomenal and we are in the process of drying a big batch to make a dry spice mix, maybe we can even use this as an idea to make gifts for sale???

I also met a nice family connected to Reynolds, the Father is in charge of running the Farmers Market at Grogans Mill in the Woodlands and the Mother is a Chef!  I am going to see how we can collaborate with them in the near future.  I will keep you updated on that adventure!

As always please let me know how we can make the garden most useful for your class, would there
be a time best for you?  Currently I am there Friday mornings, but if that is only convenient for the younger grades I am happy to work out a new time?  Please email me if you have any thoughts,

Enjoy the lovely weather!
Here is our first green pepper and below is evidence of a hungry guest!

Our oval shaped tomatoes, we had a good lesson about shapes with the Kinder-garden Class.

Our cauliflower is 7 inches tall, thanks to the 1st graders measurements!

Our lettuce is 9 inches, only 3 more till a foot!

All at different points of ripening.

A mama and baby fig leaf!

Can you see our new sugar snap bean growing, it is about to drop its flower.

Here is a bean from the third grade transplants!

We should see some cucumbers start growing soon!

Looks like a project on decomposition being conducted by the Science Club, we will have to ask them!!!???

A big tomato that was just too tempting not to pick!

Checking out the herb garden!

Smelling our basil that will be dried and made into a spice mix for pizza! 
Can you see the little lettuce that is growing on the outside of the bricks??

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall is here!

Hello garden fans!

Thank goodness for our lovely fall weather that has finally arrived.  Not only are we enjoying this cooler weather but the plants are as well.  Many of the plants we have growing will enjoy the cooler temperatures of the soil, but also the warm days that we will still have for a month or so.  As you can see in these pictures our tomatoes are doing great and we have a few varieties growing, I bet those big ones will be tasty!  We also planted some small cucumber, cauliflower and lettuce plants, and all of the bean transplants have been doing great as well!

Right now is a great time to look at the different colors in our environment as the leaves begin to change and the fall flowers bloom!

If you look closely you will see some small beans and flowers growing along the fence on the bean plants.

I will be in the garden tomorrow from 9:15 to 11 and I hope to see some of you there!

Beautiful croton, zinnia and vinca.

Time to make some herb rubs!

The cucumber plants are already sprouting new leaves!

The third grade bean plants are flowering and fruiting!

Beans and basil, yum!

These will be yummy soon!

Can you see the little ones in the back?

Our fig tree is growing quickly!

Beans, cucumber and lettuce.

Happy tomato plants!

Lovely colors!

Pretty enough to make you smile!