“Some of the greatest pleasures of an outdoor classroom are the unanticipated creatures that will flock to the new habitat.” That is how chapter 6 begins. I think unanticipated things in general are what make teaching so exciting.
Some ground rules to keep your soil healthy:
- Never dig the soil when it’s wet (I did not know this)
- Find a good source of organic matter to add to the soil a couple times a year such as compost or well-rotted manure (our students throw their rinds and other compostable materials in bins and our 5th graders learn and organize how to make compost. Now they will have a great spot to use that compost)
- Do everything you can to nurture the micro- and macroorganisms in your soil. – don’t let the soil dry out -don’t let the soil get over solarized by too much direct sunlight -add mulch several times a year
Things to learn about:
- Cover Crops
- Soil Resuscitation
- Detecting potential contaminants
- No-till or Lasagna gardening
- Organic Plant Health
- Organic Pest Control
- Anti-fungal spray
- Insecticidal Soap
- Copper tape
- Biological Control / Attracting beneficial insect predators
- Manual removal (of pests)
Of course the main thing is to keep it organic and have students as the stewards of the garden.
Warnings – in a city, you may get vandalism (stolen plants or tools, or graffiti on tool sheds). When this is done, make it a teachable moment, clean it up and proceed. Getting neighbors involved on the weekends is another good way to stave off this element. Finally, garden safety is very important. Here is a suggested set of rules for garden safety and courtesy:
- Hold hand tools below the waist with sharp points facing down.
- WALK throughout the garden
- Ask before picking or harvesting
- Be courteous to your fellow classmates and don’t throw sand or other materials.
- Do not squish bugs
- Conserve water
- Hold large tools below the shoulders
- Bring all supplies back to the shed after use.
Last week a coworker had some of the teachers out to her place. Yet another wonderful gardner with a green thumb. I think I’m in good hands. Below are a couple of pictures from her garden.