10 December 2009

From the Gardens - Late Fall

by Amy Belkora, Gardening Program

As we creep closer to winter and what we hope will be the rainy season, the children, garden volunteers, and I are hard at work wrapping up seasonal jobs. The second and third graders planted the grain crops. This year we planted barley, wheat and rye. Each of these will over-winter and be ready for harvest in summer of 2010. The kindergarteners are making their winter offerings to our bird friends.

The pine cone feeders gently hung just last week by K3 are nearly all empty of their seed, suet and peanut butter already!

The third grade also planted a stand of white garlic. We put in extra cloves so that come early spring we can harvest spring garlic, also called green garlic, and leave the rest in for full heads to develop by summer.

Two of the largest jobs since we founded our garden at St. Anne’s have recently been completed. At the request of the Sisters of St. Anne’s, we planted a pollinator flower garden on the western edge of our original space. This garden contains largely native plant species, shrubs, perennial and annual flowers. We received generous donations from Annie’s Annuals in Richmond to help round out our plant selection. I selected each plant to maximize its attractiveness to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Our honeybees across the street at the Kinney’s house will be the primary lucky foragers.

Just before Thanksgiving several helpful families gathered to build a beautiful raised redwood bed for our new Tower Garden area. Chris Larrance (2nd) designed the box and supervised the building. I also want to acknowledge the hard work of Peter and Chloe Carlstrom (1st), Bill Brockenborough (2nd), Tony and Dahlia Martorana (1st). I could not have completed this project without them! In addition, we received a generous lumber and delivery donation from Beronio Lumber here in San Francisco. Several children have worked to fill the boxes with soil and we are now ready to plant. In addition to the wooden raised bed we are experimenting with straw bale beds and planting directly into compost-amended straw bales.

The First Grade Gnomes made their inaugural visit to Rose Hive last week. Rinat Abastado, our beekeeper, came to show the children bright white new comb, old comb with bee bread and a small amount of brood within it, and offered a taste of delicious honey. When we got to the hive, Rinat took the children near the hive in small groups to listen to and watch the bees’ comings and goings. As the year unfolds, each garden group K through 3rd grades will have a chance to learn about and visit the bees.

During these cold days the second grade makes hot tea for snack. We use a collection of fresh herbs: lemon verbena, yerba buena (a low lying, native mint-family herb that means “good herb” in Spanish and was the original name of the city of San Francisco because of its prevalence), lavender, thyme, and sage. To sweeten the tea, the children mash fresh stevia and place it in each cup. Then they pour the steeped herbal tea in and after it’s all drunk up, chew the stevia for a final delight.