Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Is it really almost winter break!!!?

Hello garden friends!

I hope that you all have had a wonderful Thanksgiving break and are ready to learn lots of new things in school and in the garden before the next holiday!

It has been a busy time for the garden, many of our summer and fall plants have lost their leaves and have been pulled out, making room for or winter crops.  We say "see you next year" to the okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, peppers and some of the other herbs, and we say "hello!" to broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, kale, lettuce, carrots, beets, raddish and more!  If you have been out to the garden lately you can see much has changed.  Many of the beds are looking more spacious as we have removed some plants and will be planting new ones soon.

Also, almost all of the trees have been cleared from behind the school and has left the playground looking very stark and bare.  All the more reason to make our garden look even more lovely!  To this end, we will be making efforts to increase landscaping around the outside of the garden and have more benches to sit on.  If anyone enjoys the creative aspect of gardening please feel free to contribute!  This would also be a great time to do some painting in the garden if any teachers would like to do some more creative work in the garden please let me know!

Since 3rd grade had a short month in the garden it was not possible to get in our tasting experience in November, however we will make it happen!  As we will be pulling out the tomatoes before the next frost, I harvested all the tomatoes and we will watch them ripen in the classroom, then we will use our cilantro from the garden and make a delicious salsa and chips snack!

Kindergarden was also able to sample some of the garden goodness, making the famous garden soup!  They slurped up the savory mix of okra, green pepper, green beans, eggplant, tomatoes, chicken broth and pasta, it was a big hit with our little friends!

The garden club also got to work and enjoyed a lovely snack of dried herbs from our garden, mixed with olive oil and enjoyed with french bread, yummy!  Thanks to Ms. Heather Mendez, Mrs. Mann and Mrs. Burgess!

I look forward to working with 2nd grade in the garden this month, even on these cool days there is much to see!

No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.
cuke on the vine

our poinsettia starts to turn red!

the very bare playground...

yummy parsley and cucumber!

the poinsettia will be in full red color soon!

pak choi and cauliflower are loving this cool weather!

broccoli, carrots and kale are getting bigger each day!

even the rainbow chard is making a comeback!

happy marigolds mixing with cilantro and mint, yumm!

the end of this seasons basil bush!  until next time!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall, fun, friends, food and new plants!

Happy October!

It has been a very exciting past few weeks for the garden and the students.  Since our last post we have had two great cooking experiences, first the 5th grade did a great job looking after the garden and were able to sample some of the produce.  We made a fresh garden pesto using all of our delicious basil and drank refreshing watermelon basil mint juice, also made using the herbs from our garden.  Over 100 fifth graders enjoyed this sampling and were also fortunate to listen to our fantastic guest speaker, Ms. Judy Walden, from the NAM donation garden speak about the importance of donation gardens and organic gardening and natural pest control.  We are very grateful to Ms. Judy for sharing her time and passion regarding the impact if this type of gardening, they donate over 3000 lbs of food each year!!!

Thank you to our 5th grade gardeners and teachers!!!

Due to the great success of our crock pot soup last year in Ms. Mann's class, we decided to treat all 110 students in first grade to a similar experience.  With three crock pots, we made a lovely pasta vegetable soup, using fresh okra, green pepper, yellow squash, basil and oregano all from our garden.  We added some broth and tomatoes and yummy vegetable pasta, and the kids loved it!!!

Our garden club also had its inaugural meeting and it was fantastic.  Ms. Burgess, Mrs. Mann and volunteer Heather Mendez helped make this club meeting a success.  The kids began learning about a composting program that we are going to begin in the school, recycling organic scraps from our cafeteria and watching them slowly turn into a yummy fertilizer for our garden!  Thank you to our super club leaders!

Right now the 4th grade is doing a great job of looking after the garden and have harvested many yummy fruits and vegetables.  The figs on our fig tree have finally begun to ripen and are truly delicious.  They have also picked yellow squash and a few tomatoes.

Thanks to Ms. Sastarch's first grade class, we now have a plentiful harvest of green beans that they planted from seed!

In Mrs. Neskorik's 3rd grade class we had the good fortune of reading some lovely poems in the garden on a beautiful fall afternoon.  We read poems by Robert Frost and some of the kids even got up and "freestyled" their own poems!  This was a huge success, let me know if you would like to do this with your class!?

Have you seen our two fairy gardens courtesy of Mrs. Neskorik and friends, please enjoy them, but be careful of the "treasures" and the prickly cacti!!!

Right now be on the lookout for the new lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, bak choi and much more that has recently been planted!  Also we have many small cucumbers that are getting bigger every day and will make a tasty treat for sure!  Our okra is still growing strong and we will be using it along with the green beans, green pepper, squash, tomatoes and herbs to make a yummy garden soup with kindergarden next week!

If you have any ideas for your class please let me know!  nuzha13@hotmail.com

Have a great day!

Poetry in the garden

Our eagle scout candidate Ikaika Jensen finishes the water catcher!

mmmm green beans!

A pretty, yummy fig

A spider making its web!

Everyone loves our garden tic tac toe!

Beware the tomato horn worm!

Soon to be soup!
Yummy first grade soup!

Pesto and watermelon basil mint juice, more please!!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Autumn days ahead!

Happy Fall everyone!

The timing could not have been more perfect for the cooler weather to arrive, it came on the very first day of fall!  This time of year is particularly lovely to be outside, before it is too cold and while all the colors and plants are still vibrant and inspiring.

We have had some great visits in the garden in our first month of school, observing, spelling, using our math skills and our five senses.  This coming week we are going to experience our sense of taste with the 5th and 1st grades and will be planning similar events with the rest of the grades as the year unfolds!

We have had a bountiful harvest of okra and eggplant and will be using our garden delights to make a yummy vegetable soup with 1st grade.  You will see in the pictures below that we used our harvest to make patterns, sorting and addition, a great way to use the garden for some classroom lessons!

This Monday, the 5th grade will have the exciting opportunity to hear from the director of the NAM donation garden on what is and the importance of donation gardens.  We will also be making watermelon basil mint juice, and pesto pasta made with all of the delicious basil growing in the garden.

Looking forward we have a number of yellow crookneck squash that are growing along with cucumber, tomatoes and green peppers.  We are excited to plant carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beets and a number of other fall and winter vegetables as the earth continues to cool down.

Be on the lookout for the garden club as that will be starting soon and we have a number of exciting projects on horizon for both the club and the classroom visit!

See if you can find the frog and other insects in the pictures below!

See you in the garden!

Maryah, Mrs. Roberts, or the "garden lady"

A wonderful proverb that was posted at Moody Gardens.

Can you see the baby squash that is growing??

Their is fungus among us!  Lots of mushrooms growing after all of our heavy rains!

Can anyone tell me what kind of bug this is, perhaps your students could investigate?

Our garden frog, Mr. Hoppy!

Yummy green peppers!

Lovely flowering sage.

Can you see the baby tomatoes growing??

The squash have gotten bigger, cannot wait to eat them!!!

Do you see the little cucumber??

Using our pattern power with first grade!

Sorting from longest to shortest!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy first week of school Armadillos!

I hope that you have all had a wonderful first week!  The garden is also "back" to school and has some new residents as well.  This week we planted new landscape plants for some fun fall foliage that believe it or not, is just around the corner!  Also, we planted zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and marigolds inside the vegetable beds.  The marigolds are an excellent plant to place next to the vegetables and fruits as they attract the insects that might otherwise bother our edible crops as well as attracting helpful pollinators.

Our most exciting event this week was the completion of the 3rd Eagle Scout project, a sensory bed for our garden!  Jeff Bowcutt and his team of helpers built a fantastic new raised bed that is dedicated for sensory exploration, students will be able to touch, smell, rearrange, and experiment with this new part of the garden.  As this raised bed has higher brick walls we are also able to paint them!  Is anyone interested painting with their students???

Thank you to Jeff and his team of supporters!

Thank you to Plants for All Seasons on Louetta, as they have donated many of our plants and recently donated more plants and seeds, they have been an integral part of our gardens success!

Also, some of our first graders visited the garden and planted some green beans and white icicle radishes, be sure to check on their progress!

As the new year gets under way the garden is open and welcomes everyone, teachers and staff are encouraged to take their students on a nature adventure, there is really no way to "mess up" the garden it is there to be created, deconstructed, recycled and observed so dig in!!!  Even if you are just reading a book under the shade of the trees, the imagery of the garden can take the story to a whole new level.

Please contact me if you would like to set up a time or special activity in the garden, I will be there this Wednesday at 10am.

One project that can be fun and easy is to harvest some oregano, basil and mint and dry it in the classroom and then have the students turn it into a "dry spice mix" that can be placed on pizza or mixed with olive oil and eaten with french bread!  We have lots of okra and eggplant right now and I am working on ways we can cook them up for the kids, perhaps some gumbo with rice?  Any ideas and or recipes are most welcome!

Finally, be on the lookout for the Garden Club as we are laying plans for how and when the club will take place, please let me know if you are interested or know someone who may be interested in working with the club?!

See you at the garden!

Maryah Roberts, nuzha13@hotmail.com

A family of herbs and vegetables!

Eggplant, okra, basil and oregano!

Our new zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes and peppers, watch how they will grow!

New colors for the fall, crotons, mums and celosia!

Jeff Bowcutt and his Eagle Scout project in the making!

Jeff and his finished project!

The super team!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer fun, garden updates and upgrades!

Hello Reynolds Garden fans!

I hope you have all had a great summer and are ready for an amazing year!

Over the summer the garden has been busy although it was also left to its own devices for a few weeks.  While you were away we have had many harvest days, taking home bagfuls of tomatoes, eggplant, okra, zucchini, basil, cilantro, onions, chilli peppers, bell peppers and strawberries!  The okra and eggplants are still healthy and producing lots of fruits!

With all of the rain, the garden has also been home to a variety of critters, ranging from butterflies, spiders, caterpillars and even frogs!

The Eagle Scout candidates that had projects planned for the summer are almost done implementing their wonderful projects.  As you walk out to the garden you will notice a lovely new pathway, a new compost and rain collection bin, and soon a new sensory bed that will be raised for easier wheelchair access!

We have lots of exciting adventures planned for our outdoor laboratory.  We will be planting, calculating, tracking, hypothesizing and even painting art projects, so bring your creativity and your energy and we look forward to seeing you in the garden!

As always, I welcome your feedback, ideas, or just love hearing from you!

Yummy summer harvest!

the garden as of today!  Out with the old and ready for the new!

Our fabulous new decomposed granite pathway, thank you Edgar!

Our resident frog!

Edgar, our Eagle Scout candidate and him amazing family.

The support crew.

Pathways are not made easily!
More summer harvest!

Ikaika Jensen, our other Eagle Scout candidate made us our very own Rain Collection invention and a self contained Compost as well!  This is an amazing contribution, thank you Ikaika!
More frogs!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sunny summer days ahead!

Hello gardeners!

Can you believe it has already been a year since we all first stepped into the garden!?  It certainly has been an exciting year and a continual learning experience.  We have grown a great variety of produce this year and have witnessed the miraculous journey of a seed to a lovely piece of fruit or vegetable.  We have observed the effects that weather and our environment have on our crops and the habitat of the garden.  Some of the kids were also lucky to catch glimpses of the insects in action, both helpful and harmful.  
Take a minute to scroll through the first photos of what was just an empty plot of grass and see all that has happened to take us to what our garden is today!  

I hope that the students, teachers, faculty, and volunteers have enjoyed the addition of the garden to Reynolds elementary and that together we can work towards making this outdoor learning center a fantastic complement to the schools learning tools!
Looking towards the fall, please reach out to me with any ideas, feedback or comments, this is our garden and the more variety in participation the better!
Also, we will be working in the garden over the summer, planting, harvesting, cleaning, maintaining and PICKLING, we will have many okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant and much more, if you like gardening please let me know and I can keep you informed on our work days!

See all the exciting photos below and have a great summer, don't be strangers!
Thank you for joining us on this adventure in learning!

Maryah Nijim Roberts
The "garden lady"

Garden soup made by Mrs. Mann's first grade class, yummy!

Our pumpkin is taking over!

Happy figs growing!

Little pumpkin in training!

A Sunday harvest, and those are 18 inch cinder blocks, some huge zuccini!