The ICS St. Francis Garden club worked really hard last Friday. They pulled weeds in the upper part of the ICS garden, turned the soil to loosen it for new plants, mixed in compost to add nutrients to the soil, formed the rows with levels for walking in between the raised levels for planting, added newspaper and mulch to the rows to stop the growth of weeds and to mark where students can walk.
The students also harvested the carrots growing in the garden and fertilized the tomatoes.
Each student will be assigned a row to plan, to plant and to keep up this spring.
We thank the Town N Country Garden Circle women for their help with the club and with the butterfly garden again this week.
Last Friday the amazing grade 2 students at ICS each brought in a plant for the butterfly garden. Ms. McLane had suggested a list of plants that are good for the butterflies in Florida. The students followed the recommendations and brought in salvia, pentas, lantana, firebush, and petunias.
ICS Students hold their plants for the butterfly garden.
They were eager to put their flowers in the garden for the butterflies. The Town N Country Garden Circle ladies were in the garden waiting for them. As soon as they got there, students were arranged in groups, so all the salvia plants were together, all of the pentas together, etc. Next the plants were placed on the ground in the garden. We wanted similar plants together, but also had to plan so each plant had enough room to reach its full size.
The women had a knife to cut through the newspaper and mulch placed in the garden last week. Holes were dug for each plant, while students worked to get their plants out of the pots. As each student planted the flower that he or she brought, the roots were spread apart slightly. Then students tapped and pressed the soil around each plant to set it in place. It was a busy time but within 30 minute, all plants were in the ground. What a miracle.
A monarch butterfly was fluttering around the milkweed plant that had been placed in the garden last week. The students were delighted to see the butterfly and happy that their plants were already working to feed the butterflies. As the students went back to school to get cleaned up and ready for the Friday Stations of the Cross, the women watered the plants to help give them a good start.
Incarnation has had two wonderful women, Lesley Allen and Lois McLane, from the Town N Country Garden Circle volunteer to help us with our garden. Our garden was neglected during the Christmas vacation and badly needed weeding. We decided that was where they would start to help us. We also had an eager group of garden workers waiting to work in the grade 2 classroom.
We put on our garden gloves and went to work. It took an hour, but under the guidance of Ms. Allen and Ms. McLane, the students completed the task of weeding the lower level of the garden. They also got to watch Mr. Arnold unload 20 bags of mulch to be used to cover sections of the garden so the weeds do not come back. Students were asked to bring in newspapers from home to help control the weeds in the garden. Newspaper is placed down first and the mulch spread on top of it. This forms a barrier so the weeds do not get sunlight and are unable to grow.
The lower half of the garden will become the butterfly garden. Ms. Allen and Ms. McLane brought some plants to start this section of the garden. They also brought cuttings of other plants. These were left in the grade 2 classroom for the students to keep watered and so the students could watch the roots grow. The grade 2 students will plant them in the garden in a few weeks.
The students contributed banana peels and apple cores to the compost pile and watched in amazement as Ms. Allen dumped a large bag of coffee grounds into the compost bin. She regularly collects coffee grounds from local coffee shops. It makes a fertile addition to the compost pile.
We would like to thank them for their help and look forward to the development of the butterfly garden this spring.
Plants need soil, so asking what type of soil is in the garden is the first question a gardener should ask. The following experiment done by the grade 5 science students, is based on the Shake, Rattle and Roll experiment in the Junior Master Gardener Leader Handbook. Purpose: To identify the amounts of different sizes of soil particles that make up a soil’s texture in our school garden. Time: 20 minutes plus 24 hours to settle. Materials: clear plastic cups, plastic spoon, soil, water, permanent marker (The book calls for jars, but I try to use the cheapest and safest materials possible. A clear plastic cup with a plastic spoon to stir worked very well instead of a jar but I knew our soil was very sandy. If the soil is mainly clay, then a jar with a lid so the soil can be thoroughly mixed and suspended in water would work better.) Procedure: Students worked in pairs to complete the following
Use a permanent marker to label a cup so each group knows which cup belongs to which group.
Dig about 6 inches into the soil for the soil sample. Do not take the soil from the surface. Half fill the plastic cup with soil.
Add enough water to fill to within half an inch (1.25 cm) of the top of the cup.
Stir carefully with the plastic spoon to thoroughly mix the water and soil. Mash lumps against the side or bottom of the cup, then stir again until the soil is completely suspended in the water.
Place the cup on a solid surface. Do not disturb it for 1 minute.
Use a permanent marker to mark the side of the cup where the layers are.
Leave the cups for 24 hours without moving or disturbing it.
Observe and measure any changes in the layers. Record the results.
Particles floating on the top of the water are bits of organic matter.
The top layer of soil is clay, the smallest, lightest particles.
The next layer down is silt.
The bottom is sand, the largest and heaviest particles.
In the photo below, the clay layer is not visible. It was a very thin light tan colored layer on top of the darker silt layer.
Layers of Soil
Results: Each student created a graph comparing the different layers of soil particles. The graph below was done by a student in the class.
Depth of Layers of Soil
Conclusion: We discussed how knowing the particle size and soil texture would influence our decision about where to have a garden and what to grow in the garden.