30 November 2010

November in the Gardens

November in the gardens

The second grade Snails planted barley, wheat, and rye recently. This grain will go into their third grade harvest dinner bread next fall! Yes, grain takes a while to grow. We grow winter varieties that sprout now in the late fall and then stand still for a while in the deepest part of winter. Then, come spring, the shoots shoot up and by April seed heads are forming. The children who are around in mid-summer will come to harvest the grain. Then, just as we did with the current third grade, next fall the now second grade children will thresh, winnow and grind it into flour. To protect our seeds from the hungry birds, K2 will build a scarecrow this week and install it next to the grain bed.

We have one lovely sunflower still blooming in the garden, but nearly all the other summer crops are finished. This week we’ll remove the beans and collect more seeds from the older sunflower heads. We have garlic growing and several brassica varieties. Brassica are cabbage and mustard family plants, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. We need to get more lettuces going as well. Lettuce can be started in San Francisco year round.

The children are enjoying our gigantic leaf pile in the Tower Garden. We’ve been raking eucalyptus leaves all fall, and now we reap the benefit of jumping and burying ourselves in them. The second grade played a spontaneous rendition of “Old Roger is Dead” while burying their friends in the pile. Also in the Tower Garden the children continue to turn the beautifully large compost piles to speed up the piles’ maturation.

Have you noticed the wild onions growing around town? They are just now sending up their first green, ridged leaves. All of the plant is edible. The leaves are like scallions and can be chopped up for salad or stir fries. The bulbs can be cooked as you would a pearl onion. If you notice your gardener coming home with onion breath, this is why!

The animals are settled into their new home at Laguna Honda. The hair sheep and goats are friendly and line up for petting. Their bleating noises keep us company as we work in the gardens there. It is wonderful to have this important animal complement to our garden. A biodynamic garden relies upon the input of on-farm animal fertility (manure). A successful biodynamic farming system is a closed, self-supporting and even enhancing loop: the farm grows the food for all its animals and spreads the compost generated from their manure back onto the land. Happily we can now create that cycle at Laguna Honda.

I had the pleasure of attending a conference in early November located in East Troy, Wisconsin. This was a gathering of farm-based Waldorf educators. Garden teachers came from all over the U.S. to share ideas and learn from an active farm-school community there. Our SFWS program resembles the Chicago Waldorf School’s garden program in that we two urban schools must make use of available city land for our work. They garden on vacant lots and now within a community garden. Just as our programs include our residential host communities, theirs works closely with immigrant populations in Chicago. In East Troy we observed a farm school where there were groups of children building a fence, others clearing manure, and still another group cooking pork chops and apple crisp in the house for the group lunch. It was very inspiring to see the children busy at these important farm chores, especially in 40 degree weather!

Instead of a recipe this week, I encourage you to locate and cook with the wild onions. Ask your student gardener to help you find some around your home.