Vermont School Garden

A visit to a Vermont public school garden through the seasons.


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Cucumbers Are Here!

cutting saplings for cucumber trellis

cutting saplings for cucumber trellis

cucumber trellis dug

cucumber trellis dug

It’s easier to spot cucumbers when they’re vining up a trellis. We experimented with two different kinds of support this summer. Teen crew members love sawing and lashing structures together.  Even our older gardeners needed guidance to discover  the tiny cucumbers growing behind yellow blossoms. It’s a thrill each time I see the spark of recognition light up their faces!

full sized cuke discovered

full sized cuke discovered

tiny new cucumber spottedtiny new cucumber spotted

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July Harvesters

First harvest.

First harvest.

Summer campers came out to the garden last week to find sungold cherry tomatoes (arguably the sweetest tomatoes in Vermont), peppers and cucumbers!

Our littlest campers loved the raspberries and discovering kale.

preschool digger

preschool digger

 picking raspberries

picking raspberries

They were so happy with their discoveries!

sungold cherry tomato harvest

sungold cherry tomato harvest

garden harvesters July

garden harvesters July

first pepper

first pepper

 

 


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July Garden Work

It’s almost August! Our hard working teen garden crew is only with us for another two weeks. The summer campers leave that week as well….just as our garden is beginning to yield its bounty. We harvested the garlic planted last fall (see Nov., 2012 entry) and it’s been hung to dry in a neighbor’s barn. Garlic likes a well ventilated dry place to cure. We finished the shade tent by stretching material over the frame. Weeding has been a demanding chore for these teens and their crew leader. We’re hoping to mulch with straw to keep the weeds down until school begins at the end of next month.

crew harvests garlic

crew harvests garlic

braiding garlic

braiding garlic

Garlic drying in a neighbor's barn
Garlic drying in a neighbor’s barn

Who else is in the garlic barn?

Who else is in the garlic barn?

tarp for shade house

tarp for shade house

crew under the shade house

crew under the shade house


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Earliest Pesto and Lettuce for Lunch

Mary makes Caesar Salad from our garden lettuce!

Mary makes Caesar Salad from our garden lettuce!

It’s official! We are now helping out with Summer School program salad right from our garden. The first lettuces, planted last June have made it to the lunch tables at school. Doesn’t Mary look happy to have this beautiful lettuce, grown by our students?

A pesto made from the flowers of our garlic plants (see previous posts) is the earliest and easiest to make. The very tips are cut off if they’re too dry. The rest, stalk and all goes into the food processor with olive oil and salt to taste. (Check consistency as you pulse. You should have a nice spreadable paste.) This pesto can be used in pasta, as a seasoning, or simply spread on toast with your favorite sandwich ingredients. YUM. Why didn’t I add lettuce???scapesscapes with olive oil and salt

scapes in blendescape tomaot and avocado sanwich


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A New Teen Garden Crew and Some Super Community Friends

Last week I came out to meet with the new garden crew, as well as moms, Stacie Illingworth and Amy Rice and their children Our goal was to put the sapling shade house back into the garden. We’d had to move it for tilling last spring. We pulled it out of the  ‘lake’ that had formed in the school field after all the rain this month. Lots of the old saplings needed support or replacement. The crew went to work cutting new saplings. We definitely needed everyone to get our frame up again. What great teamwork! New holes were dug and everyone weighed in on how to brace the stakes. Afterward, Amy rode her horse over to school to check up on the frame. It’s still up and holding. Now I need to sew a  tarp to cover the frame. This year we also planted some scarlet runner beans that we hope will vine up the poles to help shade the children.

Women crew members: Nadine, Katie, Kate, Gia and Kate!

Women crew members: Nadine, Katie, Kate, Gia and Kate!

Crew member, David, lashing saplings.

Crew member, David, lashing saplings.

Frame fished out of the new 'lake.'

Frame fished out of the new ‘lake.’

Cutting saplings

Cutting saplings

This took all of our strength.
This took all of our strength.


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Last Chance to Plant: Field Day!

After school on Field Day last June, a crew of students came out to the garden for some final planting before summer vacation. They proudly showed off their face and hand paintings. Marigolds were planted around the garden border and a few kitchen garden seeds (carrots, beets and beans) were planted for the summer camp in two weeks.

Summer camp runs everyday from today, July 8th, for six weeks. there will be many opportunities for garden exploration for our 70 or so summer students.

Field Day After school kids

planting marigold border

planting basil

A row of basil, started from seed by students in the After School Program was also transplanted into the garden. At this point, three weeks later, I am already pinching back the top two leaves of the basil plants to allow the plant to branch out. Garlic plants from last fall have sent out their flower buds (scapes). These can be cut back as well and put into a blender with olive oil and salt to make a very spicy pesto. In the fall we’ll make basil pesto with our own garlic. Pesto can be frozen to use on pizza or with pasta. Throughout the winter we’ll be able to taste memories of our garden.

pinching back basil

Basil pinched back

Basil pinched back

Garlic scapes (flower buds)

Garlic scapes (flower buds)

Here are some rare strawberries from a very wet and dismal strawberry season….and what became of them!

strawberries

strawberry jam


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Lettuce Party June 14th

Getting ready to harvest

harvestingwashing

The third grade lettuce investigators came out to the garden to harvest their early crop just as school was ending. Some had happily been recording changes in plant growth for four weeks. Others lost their adopted lettuce plants during the experiment and theorized about what had happened. Everyone joined in to harvest, wash and spin the lettuce dry. We have a giant lettuce spinner. It stopped working mid spin, but one of the class members is a great mechanics “trouble shooter.” This provided a nice opportunity to highlight an individual student’s strength. He had the spinner gears humming in no time.

There was more than enough for a salad party!

spinning drysalad!