Spring is officially here but in our indoor gardens it’s harvest and sharing season. We are thrilled to learn about the diverse and rewarding stories from our Little Green Thumbs classes!
At A Blair McPherson School, parents and about 100 students celebrated the garden. Ms. Woelber reports that her students gave a talk and then everyone shared beans, peas, basil, lemon balm, lettuce and parsley. A student who’s only been in Canada for 6 months from India designed the poster to invite the school community to the event.
At Windsor Park School, the students created a “Three Sisters Garden” in early February (see above), after reading the story. Eight weeks later, the garden box is very prolific with pole beans that have reached the ceiling. Tasty beans are ready for harvest and the cucumber is starting to develop fruit. The class had a “Salabration” in early March and recently invited me to a fun tasting event. The students enjoyed fresh beans, pea and nasturtium leaves, and also yummy lemon balm iced tea.
Another salad event took place at Dr Margaret-Ann Armour School. The children harvested, washed and cut up fresh kale to mix in with other salad ingredients. The salad spinner was a popular tool and not a scrap of the kale salad remained when it was time to go home.
Indoor gardens also have challenges, including insects that somehow manage to get inside and help themselves to our plants. As there are no natural insect predators in the classroom, soapy water spray or sticky traps may help. In severe cases, the class may need to “cut their losses” and remove plants that are unable to fend off the pests. This is fertile ground for discussions about predator-prey relationships in nature and our role in supporting healthy insect populations in our gardens. At St. Kateri School, a tough decision was made to remove affected pepper plants. Fortunately, the tomato plants fared better and the students have harvested many baskets of yummy cherry tomatoes, and fresh nasturtium leaves (see photos below).
Another challenge is watering during holidays. At St. Teresa School, some plants died during the December break. Ms. Hanneman wrote: “We had a great exploration about why the plants died and what we need to do for the next time. Students loved observing the plants that had dried up and comparing them to healthy plants. Students then problem solved for our next planting that will be over spring break. They have decided to write a letter to the daycare that will be here to look after our plants and water regularly. The students have learned a valuable lesson about the responsibility of taking care of plants to have them grow.” What a great writing activity and a chance to involve the daycare children in the indoor garden.
Humans are not the only ones in need of fresh vegetables for nutrition. In the Genesis Early Learning class at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, the gibbons have shown a clear preference for indoor garden lettuce versus store bought lettuce. The children also grew KATNP that has been shared with some of the big and small cats.
Claudia Bolli, Little Green Thumbs