28 October 2009

In the Garden

by Amy Belkora, SFWS Gardening Program Director

The third grade completed the harvest, threshing and winnowing of the rye, wheat, and barley grains. They harvested a big bed of potatoes and the remaining heads of garlic. These are among the ingredients for our Harvest Dinner on November 4th.

The third graders are quite fond of our Very Hungry Caterpillars which live amongst the green cabbage leaves in our school garden. Each group of gardeners carefully picks through the cabbage leaves following the telltale signs of the hungry beasts.

Usually we find three or four, and these go into jars (along with more cabbage to eat!) so that the children may watch the caterpillars turn into moths. Then, the cycle repeats itself as the children let the moths go right back into the garden where they lay even more eggs for the next generation of Very Hungry Caterpillars. Experiments like these are quintessential pleasures of an educational garden!

At St.Anne’s garden the classes have finished the preparatory wood chip laying at the Tower Garden and we now prepare to build the raised beds and several compost piles. Down below in the Home Garden, we have harvested the last tomatoes and delighted in digging up the leftover fertilizing fish bones underneath the plants. We have taken in the corn, eaten the summer squash, and harvested a miniature pumpkin for each class.

In the next weeks we will plant the native wild flower seeds and the bee-friendly plants in the western end of the Home Garden. Fall is a great time of year to start plants in the Bay Area: they establish well in the coming rainy season. We have an assortment of hummingbird and bee friendly shrubs and flowers, including salvias, monkey flower, members of the mint family, and native poppies.

I am recruiting volunteers to grow a stand of purple vetch at home. Vetch is a nitrogen-fixing cover crop. May Fair organizers will use the purple flowers and stems to create beautiful head garlands. After you harvest the flowers for the Fair, you can turn under the rest of the plant to add organic matter and fix nitrogen in your soil. Please contact me if you’d like some seeds to plant now.