With existing (dead) soil in raised beds, the focus was immediately to amend beds with organics as in-ground compost piles to jump-start the soil microbial community. With healthy soil in place, seeds were then planted by 100 students within weeks, and edibles grew and were harvested in a short time frame.
- A Lesson In Can’t | December 2016. One never gets too old for learning new lessons. Perhaps the school’s teachers will agree with me when they see what organics can do!
- Getting Kids Excited About Dirt | January 2017. A quick snap of the different soils, and elementary school kids learn how to collect cafeteria waste for composting. Seeds get planted straight away!
- School Gardens Update | January 2017. School students get demonstration on how to build in-ground compost piles .. then plant into them.
- Planting Seeds | January 2017. Dead soil getting revived with organic layers, one square foot at a time. The first garden tree — a pecan — gets planted.
- Adaptation | February 2017. We find alternate means of obtaining ‘green’ materials for building compost, putting the bed preparation into quicker pace than we can with cafeteria waste alone. Worms (and some soil FBI) from my own organic garden space inoculate each bed, giving seeds a jump start into spring.
- Square Foot Lasagna | February 2017. A quick demo on to the easy way to build an in-ground compost pile, plus the reasons why square foot planting and lasagna gardening go so well together.
- Summer-izing | May 2017. Once veggies are harvested, the new living soil organism must be protected through the long, hot summer. See you next year!
The Second Year
Returning after a particularly dry summer punctuated by a significant flooding event, soil in the garden beds remained in good shape — ready for the next season! Focus was more on student / teacher education and creating animal diversity (insects, arthropods, arachnids) with above-ground compost piles, generally keeping out of the way at Nature’s direction. Garden students grew from 100 to more than 300, and the harvest was both plentiful and diverse through the winter, spring, and summer.
- Swallowed By Grass | August 2017. A short lesson on grasses and why they can be so competitive for soil space. Good thing the garden was prepped or we’d have a serious weeding exercise on our hands.
- Mimicking Nature, Bed Prep How-to | October 2017. It’s easy to bring living soil back from a 6-month dormancy. All you need is organics and fork spade!
- Let It Grow! | May 2018. A summary of the single (cool season) growing period, from seed-planting to harvest. Eco-diversity returns to a space which once was devoid of animals and plants, and students learn how to recognize health, living soil.
The Third Year
Now that the organic garden is fully operational with minimal inputs, all we have to do now is not mess it up! 300+ students learn how to keep soil FBI — fungi, bacteria, insects — happy and healthy so that FBI, in turn, take care of the garden’s edibles without watering or fertilizing inputs. Increasing animal and wild plant bio-diversity (hosting pollinators) was the final step. Parent volunteers jumped in as well, and we enjoyed two full growing seasons, both cool season (fall/winter) and warm season (spring summer) harvests.
- Beware The Caterpillar With A Fur Coat | November 2018. Students learn to respect ALL life in an organic garden, especially those that may hurt you if touched. Every living animal has its place in the world; Earth is not ours for the plundering.
- Last of Year: 4th Generation Monarch | November 2018. We owe it to some species to go the extra mile to restore habitat that we so thoughtfully destroyed. The Monarch Butterfly is only one of them.
- Building Friendships, Reviving Dead Soil | November 2018. It takes more than people — adults and children — in a garden space to help plants grow. But the oldest, most special, most critical symbiotic relationship is that of fungi with plants. Without mycorrhizae, our garden simply wouldn’t function.
- Weeds, Mulching and Volunteers | January 2019. Keeping soil covered is quite possibly the most important garden chore, save building compost. Unless, of course, you are someone who actually likes weeding.
- Creating Habitat, Ecosystem Diversity | February 2019. The transformation is complete! A dead, linear garden system has closed the ends, and nature is now firmly in charge of keeping it so. We are now stewards of a more complete, and sustainable garden organism.
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