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How Does Your Garden Grow: Week 2

October 11, 2016

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With bad weather (Hurricane Matthew) in the horizon, I knew I had a few days to get things into the ground. I laid out the plants from Brad of Veg Out Gardens, in a general location of where they needed to go. The Elementary children studied the root balls of kale and lettuces, and smelled the assorted herbs plants. I pointed the different shapes of the plant leaves, and we talked about what things help a plant grow (especially those worms we had plopped into the dirt the previous week). The children carefully measured the advised spacing directions, and with small beach shovels substituting as a garden trowel, they each dug a hole, placed the plant into it, and moved dirt around on top of it. I was surprised no one bulked at the idea of getting their hands dirty.

~ Brad’s tip of the month ~

The first frost is around Thanksgiving (November 22nd with a 50% of probability), so be sure to have your transplants in your garden soon. They need at least one month of growth and root development.

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“Straight” rows of kale & lettuce!

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Happy herbs.

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Excited Kindergarteners were up next to plant the carrot seeds in the smallest of the raised beds. Carrots are usually planted in the spring, but I wanted to give it a try in the Fall, and I had a row cover (of a soft fabric like material) that I wanted to test out as well.

This group of children had participated in the worms, so they were curious as to where the worms were and if they could find them. I had organized the number of carrot rows we would have, and had marked them with chopsticks and garden markers beforehand. The children pulled a string from one side to another, to make a straight line, and then used a trowel to make a small trench. Seeds were carefully pinched into the trench trying to give everyone enough space as to not over lap each other. Afterwards, eager hands covered each row with soil and patted them down. We talked about coming back each week to check on their progress.

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This sums up the end of week 2 in our school garden. I checked on the gardens today (3 days after the rain and winds of Hurricane Matthew struck us), and most of the plants survived. There are even carrot seedlings poking up from beneath the soil. So good so far!

Back to Basics

The Basics: Gina’s Favorite Gardening Tools

May 24, 2016

Gina's favorite gardening tools handdrawn

I asked Gina Foresta to share with us her favorite gardening tools and essentials she uses a daily basis. I also couldn’t pass up an opportunity to sketch!

Enjoy! And go out and start working in your garden!

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I like to have one pair of leather gloves, like these, for hard work, and one pair of light gloves with waterproof palms for basic gardening. But most of the time I bare hand it. My nails look like I’ve been doing mechanic work for most of the summer.

I use a serrated knife for weeding and any harvesting I have to cut for. It is my all-purpose go-to tool. This is a nice one from Villagers in Asheville. This store is like a candy shop for gardeners and homesteaders.

I also have a gardening fork, like this one, on hand when I need to turn compost into a bed or aerate compacted soil.

When weeds are small and popping up everywhere a stirrup hoe, like this one, is a must. Not only is it easy on your back but it makes weeding small plants very easy, and even fun.

I also like a simple trowel for planting seedlings.

I like to stick to small companies for ordering seeds. I like Southern Exposure and High Mowing for their unusual and heirloom seeds.

Since I garden sustainably, empty spray bottles are very helpful for mixing up natural concoctions to fend off unwanted pests. Most recipes call for a few drops of dish soap so the remedy will stick to the plant leaves. I always use Seventh Generation brand.

I keep a tree lopper on hand for cutting thick branches. While I rarely work with trees, some herb plants, like African Blue Basil, or some pepper plants need a stronger tool than pruners to cut back. By the way, African Blue Basil is a cool plant to have in  your garden. The leaves don’t get bitter even when the plant flowers and the bees love it.

After reading rave reviews I just ordered a compost tea kit from Boogie Brew. The kit has an aerator and all you need to make super nutrient rich compost tea for your garden. This company also sells a hose water filter which is great if you’re using city water. They chlorine and chloramine in the city water isn’t great for the bacteria colony in your soil.

While gardening books abound, Food Grown Right in Your Backyard is by far my favorite. The authors’ company is based in Seattle, but we live in a similar zone here in Virginia Beach, and at least are able to grow very similar plants as the Seattle area. This book is the most thorough and relatable gardening book I have ever had the privilege to read.