And having a great time. Really. Even weeding can be fun with the right attitude!
The middle school students joined us this week and wielded hoes like professionals, tilling and weeding, managing near amelioration. “Boys, boys–over here. We don’t need a cleared five foot perimeter!” Left unsupervised, the whole field may have been cultivated, had they their way. Though to their credit, the border did look nice.
Next came the hay. Pulling and tossing and separating… “Can I go back to class? I’m allergic to hay.”
That might have been a good thing to know before you mulched half the garden with it. “Sure, but are you okay?”
“Yes, I just get itchy.”
I smiled. “Me, too.”
Next, the elementary kids made note of their broccoli. It’s bolting. With our warmer weather of late, the broccoli went straight to flower. “Can we eat them?”
Of course they’d ask that question. Why wasn’t I prepared? With a shrug, I replied, “Well, they are edible…”
Hands dashed out, blanketing the plant with greedy plucks. “Mmmm! They’re good!” Another student wasn’t as certain and returned a frown. “Bitter.”
Lower elementary was in charge of planting carrot seeds. If you’ve ever seen a carrot seed, you know this would amount to an exciting project. The seeds are quite tiny, easily dropped, spread to the walkway, stuck to the skin…
Luckily their garden coordinator was close at hand for help. “How about you carve the channels into the soil and I’ll demonstrate how to “roll” the seeds out over the dirt forming a fine line.”
Worked for them! We then sprinkled some bone meal over the area, followed by a thin layer of dirt. Bone meal offers a punch of phosphorous which we learned helps grow big roots and big fruits. “Hey, that rhymes!”
I winked. “Yes it does. Makes for a great way to remember, don’t you think?’ Night, night carrots. Sleep tight in your soft comfy bed.
We rounded out the week with our kindergarteners. Taking their turn at weeding–an interesting sight to see, what with shovels dipping, dirt flinging, rakes scraping, boys wandering, girls squealing; it was a great time had by all!
But the best moment came when one of the boys discovered an earthworm as he transplanted his strawberry plant. Oh, the glorious hoots and howls and shrieks, “Let me see!” “Let me see!” “Don’t hurt it!” “He’s stabbing it!”
WHAT? “No, no, let him go! We need him in the garden. Remember, plants love worm poop.”
At least it stopped them in their tracks. Gently prying the worm from their tight-fisted grip, I set him back in the dirt, quickly covering him with soil. Whew! That was a close one. “See, he’s happy and so is your strawberry plant. Look, there’s one growing now!”
Distraction is key, as every keen adult knows, to moving the process along. Eager stares scoured the area for sight the coveted strawberry. I pointed to a white flower.
“That’s not a strawberry,” one child said while another noted, “but it is pretty.”
“Look closer. See? In the center is the beginning of a strawberry.”
Well, that impressed them. As it should. Next on the list was lavender. Bodies leaped from the ground. Passing around the small plant, the kids were amazed by its sweet rich scent. “Smells good, doesn’t it?”
Heads nodded agreement all around. “Okay, we’ll plant it right here, and watch as it grows pretty purple flowers.”
With one plant, our plant-to-child ratio wasn’t appealing so we promptly moved on to our final task. Harvest.
Oh, the splendor of pulling your very own carrots from the ground!
Just make sure each child has one to pull, or the whines of injustice will drive you clear from your state of euphoria. Thankfully, we had enough to go around and sent each child home with a petite bunch of veritable gold treasure. “I’ll take that, thank you!”
Be sure to wash them before you eat them! When you grow your own, this little tidbit of advice should be taken to heart, else you end up with a mouth full of dirt (and who knows what else!)
p.s. Our beans are sprouting. Aren’t they fabulous?
A few of the kids expressed concerned. “What will happen if we don’t get them into the ground soon?”
“Will they grow out of their tray?”
You have to appreciate the logic of the young mind. They’re always thinking, always pondering the “what ifs” of life. Faced with their steep concern, it was my job to reassure them. “No, they won’t grow out of their tray.” Not exactly, anyway. “But we do want to get them into the garden soon. Maybe next week?”
Cheers all around!