08 January 2012

November and December, 2011

As Fall draws to a close we try to get as much planting done as possible so the new plants can take advantage of the wetter weather to come. One of our big projects was to replace our two year old straw bale bed. Two years ago we build a good-sized straw bale raised bed to grow various crops. One year it held a rotating collection of greens, the second year we planted grain crops there. Straw bale beds are made by lining up straw bales end to end to form the perimeter of the bed shape you desire, then lashing it together with wire, and finally, filling it with soil.

Our previous bed had lasted two good years before it started to compost itself and collapse. We saved that soil, turned the old straw bales into our compost piles, and made room for this new one. You can see Kindergarten One working on it here.

K1 also planted flats of favas and sugar snap peas, both of which do just fine in our mild winter conditions. Those seeds are now 6 inch tall seedlings and in the process of going into the ground in various beds both at St. Anne's and on the Grade School campus.

Second grade finished the work on our new, expansive herb garden (courtesy of the RSF grant monies), and K3 planted a stand of garlic. Now we need to sit back and wait for that rain to come!

A long standing tradition we have for the kindergarten gardeners, is to create a winter offering to our bird friends at St. Anne's. I tell a story each year about a lonely farmer learning that his bird friends are about to fly away for the cold winter months, and how he figures out a way to give them a going away treat to honor their friendship and provide much needed nourishment for their long journey.

As I tell the story, I make the pinecone bird feeder just as the children will do when the story is over. We are now in our sixth year of this gift giving, and as December rolled around I noticed a greater than usual quantity of birds hanging around, I think waiting expectantly for their feast.

Sure enough, as the three kindergarten classes made their pinecones, the children could see the birds hovering around the proceedings in the trees. The bird song was loud and excited. Once the children hung their feeders, within minutes the birds were on top of the pinecones, happily picking off the seeds and nut butter. The pinecones were all completely cleaned off within 2 to 3 days of hanging. When the children return to the garden in January, they will run around looking for their pine cone and be delighted to find it bare.