It’s that cold time of year again!
We have cleaned out our garden beds in preparation for the El Niño taking place this year.
Each classroom has observed and discussed about the differences in the garden from fall until now.
How It was harvested and why it is empty now, letting the soil grow and nourish itself in preparation for new fun foods to try!
Each classroom has started brainstorming on what they would like to see, taste and learn about in their garden bed.
We are all eager and excited about the upcoming months, please visit us again to see what ideas were brought to children’s life lessons that are being taught to our future!
The winter brought some new challenges to our garden. In November the children were digging in one of our beds and found a large family of grubs. Fortunately, they were only in one bed. We were able to dig most of them up and so far, we have not found anymore. Also, in December a little critter found its way into our garden and helped itself to some of our carrots and chard. We’re not sure what kind of critter it was, but it dug several holes in many of the beds and it ate some of our larger carrots. We were able to replant some of our sprouts, and we covered the beds with mesh. We’re hoping the sprouts will continue growing.
Right now our garden beds are full of carrot and Swiss chard sprouts. Starting in January, we are planning on implementing a Seed to Table program which is our nutritional program based on what we are growing in the garden. January’s food focus will be carrots. The children will be looking for carrots in the garden and exploring the difference between cooked and raw carrots, making Honey Glazed Carrots, and Carrot Cookies. February’s focus will be Swiss chard. Again, children will be looking for chard in the garden, and then exploring cooked versus raw chard and making Cheesy Chard Quesadillas and Pita Pockets. These recipes are all found in the Lifelab program Early Sprouts which is a nutritional program created for the very young child. We will have copies of the recipes for families who are interested in cooking with their child at home. Our Parakeets and Canaries will be making smoothies and juice with their little ones.
As the weather warms up, we will be planting tomatoes, string beans, butter nut squash, and sweet peppers. Each month we will be focusing on one of these foods. Our school policy is to create a positive attitude toward healthy foods. Many young children are hesitant to try new foods, so we will always encourage but never force a tasting. Children need many reassuring experiences with new foods to become comfortable tasting and hopefully enjoying the foods. We encourage families to try tastings at home.
The spring and summer harvests have finished, and we cleaned out all of the beds, except for the strawberry bed, to prepare them for our fall and winter plantings. We decided to focus on growing carrots and chard for the fall, and soon we will also plant butternut squash. The Canaries started planting chard seeds in the classroom in egg cartons, while the Robins also started growing carrot seeds indoors in the same containers. We decided to start the seeds indoors because when we planted seeds right into the ground in the spring, our local birds ate all the seeds. When the sprouts were ready, both classes came to the garden and transplanted the seedlings from containers into the ground. Since then, Mr. Herbert brought in a thin mesh screen that we can place over the beds to keep hungry birds from devouring our seeds. We decided to try planting seeds right into the ground. But little tiny seeds can be difficult for little tiny hands to handle, so the older children in Parrots and Bignest tried seeding the garden in a new way called strip seeding. Both classes had been talking about recycling and reusing different items. One student had brought in newspaper to place in our recycling bin. We cut the newspaper into one by twelve inch strips. Dots were drawn on the strips that showed the children how far apart the seeds needed to be placed without being crowded. We made glue from mixing flour and water and the children placed globs of glue over each dot. They then placed the number of seeds recommended on the back of the package over each gluey dot. We let the glue dry and then placed the strips into the ground in the garden beds. Paper is compost-able, so it will help feed the ground, and our seeds should have just the right amount of space to grow. We look forward to seeing if this planting method will be successful.
Here are pictures of children creating strips of seeds for the garden:
Please visit and enjoy our garden! Also take a minute to enjoy our bamboo teepee the kindergarten class has constructed. It sits in the middle play yard. The children participated in the planning and construction of the teepee. They are also responsible to take care of the vines that have been planted to grow up the bamboo poles.
Last spring, Baldwin Academy began building its first school garden behind the Parakeet’s House. We enlisted the help of a Master Gardener, named Rich, to guide us in our choice of location and setting up the garden. With his help, our kindergarten children helped prepare the ground by checking for proper drainage. They dug holes, filled the holes with water, and timed how long it took the holes to drain. Not only was it a fun project, but we were pleased to find that our garden had good drainage.
The next step was building our garden beds. Home Depot kindly donated all the wood and gave us a nice discount on all the other supplies we needed. Mr. Herbert and his son Sebastian helped build the wood frames for the beds.
San Diego City donated a flat of different sprouted vegetables to our project, so the Canaries planted those sprouts, while other classes began starting plants from seeds in their own houses. The Parrots started radish and water cress, the Big Nest started squash, and the Robins started carrots and beets. During this first growing season, we experimented with these different crops to see how well they would respond to our soil and the amount of sun. We’ve learned a lot and had a lot of fun watching the plants grow and harvesting the produce. Please make sure to visit the garden and let us know if you are interested in helping maintain the garden.
In the fall, we plan on focusing on certain crops that the children will be able to harvest, prepare, and taste in class. Teaching the children about good nutrition is as important as teaching them about the resources the Earth provides for us.
On Earth Day last spring, we dedicated our new garden by singing songs and enjoying the beauty of the garden. Mr. Herbert read a story to the children and everyone had a great time.
No one is too young or too old to have fun in a garden!