27 January 2010

January in the Gardens

by Amy Belkora, Gardening Program

The first and second grades have been learning about the Wolf Moon in late December. I am reading local author Jessica Prentice’s excellent book Full Moon Feast and sharing her knowledge surrounding the traditional Native American names for the yearly full moons. Wolf Moon was three weeks ago and now we’re fast approaching Hunger Moon.

Native people gave these names to the full moons as a way to mark the moon in relation to food availability and crop production. The Wolf Moon derives its name from the barren time of late December and early January when most parts of the US are covered in snow or chill and people are dependent only on the food they managed to save from fall harvests. It is a time when wolves are howling in their packs, distraught from hunger, coming closer and closer to human shelter.
I show the children examples of Wolf Moon foods: winter squashes, onions, garlic, dried herbs, potatoes. These are all foods that we harvest in late summer and fall and can store well into winter. The second grade enjoyed cooking a Wolf Moon soup of winter squash. See below for the recipe courtesy of Full Moon Feast.
In between rain showers we have been working to lay down a wood chip path among the native flowers in our bee garden to keep the pesky grass at bay. The first graders decided to unearth a two year old tall stump, the remainder of a tree that blew down two winters ago. This job has proven to be exciting and addicting. For the past two weeks each visiting class has had a go at its removal. Finally, on Friday the 15th, the First Grade Gnomes succeeded in wrestling it from the ground. Per Monique’s request, we’ll turn the stump into a nice perch in the garden.
The third grade cleaned up the school garden and planted a winter crop of potatoes. We placed them in a plot where we’d turned in grain crop residue three months before. Potatoes love to grow among green manure, in other words, plant matter that has been disked into the soil to add organic matter over time. We also planted several new radish varieties to enjoy over the coming weeks. Radishes grow quickly and well in San Francisco.
Wolf Moon Soup:
Coconut oil (or other oil, but the children love the coconut!)
Acorn squash (or other winter squash) peeled and chopped into small pieces
Minced garlic or onion
Fresh or dried herbs including rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable or other stock
Sauté squash in oil until soft with herbs and onion/garlic. Pour in stock and mash lightly until soup is lumpy and hot. Serve with a dollop of yogurt if you like.