31 October 2010

October in the gardens

Oh the late summer of San Francisco! Just as the students and I had removed all the corn and tomatoes - stunted by the cold summer - and put in our fall crops, now the sun is out and days are in the 80s! Each year about this time I make a note to myself to plant fall crops in April and summer crops in August. However, I haven’t had the strength of courage to actually do it yet. Now, as I watch my kales and broccolis wilting, I am reaffirming the need to reverse those seasonal crops in our SF planting rotations. Corn in November anyone?

The flowers have done surprisingly well this year, despite the cool summer. We are now enjoying the process of saving seeds from our annuals. The edible chrysanthemums are particularly satisfying to harvest, a big seed head full of little rectangular seeds that jump into the children’s palms. We also have a wonderful collection of sunflower seed heads. We planted many sizes and colors this year and these flowers provide a perfect example of pollination. Did you know that a sunflower is actually a “face” comprised of 100s of tiny individual flowers? In order for seeds to form, each seed’s flower must get pollinated. It is fascinating for the children to see that within one sunflower head, perhaps only 50% of the husks actually contain true seeds. In addition to saving them for next year, we also enjoy cracking the shells open with our teeth and eating the seeds inside!

The first grade continues to enjoy a weekly chapter of our Adventure story. As a reminder, Adventure is the bee that escaped from our hive at the Kinney’s the night Rinat Abastado and I moved it to Laguna Honda. Adventure is alive and well in our garden at St. Anne’s, and is a wonderful character with whom I can introduce the children to the myriad of garden creatures that keep our garden vibrant: gnomes, various fairies, moles, worms, butterflies… While at work, the children often spy Adventure visiting our flowers. Such a sighting brings smiles to all our faces.

The third grade is threshing, winnowing and grinding the barley, rye and wheat they planted last fall. The children enjoy these processes and cherish the small drawer of flour that comes from all that manual grinding. Each week’s flour goes into the baked goods the third graders are preparing for their harvest dinner. Today’s group of Weavers was particularly knowledgeable thanks to their recent field trip to the Bale Grist Mill in St. Helena.

We have good news from Laguna Honda. The farm animals will move into their home next to the garden the first week of November. And better still, the residents will move into their new buildings on December 7 and 8. Please contact Mitch Mitchell or me if you would like to volunteer to help move the residents on one of these two days. It will be a large and joyous undertaking. As soon as the residents are settled in, they will start taking part in the daily activities of the garden.

At Laguna Honda Dr. Burket, Mr. Prado and the ninth graders started three large compost piles. The beans are sky high and our pumpkins are ripening. The ninth graders also planted garlic, radishes, and greens. The bees appear to be very happy in their meadow home.

Here is our latest recipe from the first grade and K3:

Fresh potatoes (ideally small ones, like fingerlings)

Boil until just tender and the skin is gently cracked open

Add butter and salt

Pop them in your mouth