BLS Outdoor Classroom: Organic Garden: weeds, signs and worm poop

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I spent the morning with the toddlers. We dug up worm compost from the bin. We talked about how everybody and everything that eats food ultimately poops. We observed that the food we have been putting in the bin for the last several weeks has disappeared and what is left is a rich, dark soil that is peppered with broken egg shells. We collected the compost and applied it to the newly sowed spinach and lettuce seeds because we observed that the strawberry plants were doing particularly well since we put worm compost on them a couple weeks ago. The toddlers have been having a lot of fun making sure our new mature blueberry plants from Sakuma Brothers Farm get watered thoroughly.

In the Veggie Garden, the Kindergarten class wanted to put up the signs they made for Beets, Cilantro and Beans. The beets are coming up nicely; we looked for Cilantro sprouts, but nothing yet. The transplanted beans got serious chowed on by slugs; sadly, we don’t have a lot of surviving bean plants. We played ‘I Spy’ in the Veggie Garden with the chive flowers, the Oriental Poppy and the baby strawberries that are ripening in several beds in the garden. We talked about why we don’t want to pick the little white blossoms, and when it is OK to pick the strawberries. We also did a lot of serious weeding and slug collection; we have a slug and snail relocation program.

Teacher Julie wanted to identify trees in the Big Yard with her group. We played a game of ‘I Spy’ about trees and shrubs including the Japanese Maple that has red leaves, the Potentilla shrubs that have orange flowers, the lilac that has fragrant purple flowers and the blueberries that currently have sweet white bell shaped blossoms. This was a good opportunity to talk about how fruit is made and what part bees play in this process of making fruit. Because the kids love to graze as they walk through the gardens we had to have a very serious talk about eating any leaves, flowers or fruit and why the kids need to wait until the fruit is ripe before they eat it.

Teacher Cindy came out with her 5 day group and we played a game of ‘I Spy’ on our way over to ‘Project du Jour’ to free the Sumac grove from the horrible and noxious Morning Glory.

Yes, I cant think of a nice thing to say about Morning Glory. I think of all the noxious weeds, it is my #1 least favorite. If a small piece of the root is left behind, it regenerates. and if it gets dumped in the woods, it will regenerate and infect your dumping areas and / or compost areas. However, as kid growing up in Minnesota, I annually planted blue morning glory so it would  grow up and around our mailbox.

As we methodically cleared the bed, we had a light competition for who could excavate the longest or fattest root system. We also had a discussion about if all weeds are plants or if all plants could be weeds? I would say, a certain amount of it is in the eye of the beholder, but, basically, if a plant is particularly aggressive or vigorous, it will eventually earn ‘weed’ status in any garden.