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Spring in Garden

 
Spring 2020
K raised bed   raspberry blueberry bed   fig tree   ground bed April 2020   espalier apple tree
 
April 2020
The garden lab is still and quiet without our students, parents and staff, but manages to grow and change with life coming and going from the heart of our school.  The custodians are mowing and weed trimming.  Mother nature will take care of things between the times we are allowed in to weed or maintain.  Our administration monitors progress.  The Monarch Waystation plants are coming back in and preparing for the pollinators.  The fig tree and espalier apple tree did great through the winter and are beginning to leaf.  The buds look healthy.  The strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are showing growth and flowering.  The Kindergarten had planted with sweet peas and lettuce before leaving and now have seedlings.  The other raised beds are finishing crops or are just waiting for our return!
 
Raised beds  pergola at closure
March 2020
Raised beds are prepared for spring planting and now wait due to the COVID-19 school closing.  Although the Monarch Waystation in the middle raised bed looks bare, life is ready to present itself in time on it's own even with us not there.  A few more pictures before leaving the school building on the announcement of the closures.
cold frame garden  spring garden lab before closure  raised bed before closure
 
Spring 2019
Exciting news!  Music has arrived to the garden lab with a new instrument.  Our music classes are planning on doing some new lessons and a new PBL with this instrument in mind.  Be sure to come try our new chimes on the side of the garden shed.
chimes   artistic chimes
Kindegarten Seed Sale at the Leesburg Farmers Market was a huge success and so much fun!  Our students raised $117.02 for the garden lab.
seed sale  seed sale lena and mom  seed sale jonah and sister
 
Technology has arrived in the garden lab with new plant, tree, and collection signs that have QR codes to scan to give you a quick way to find out more about all the plants, trees, and collections in our garden lab.  All you need is your phone or iPad to scan the sign.  Thanks to VA Agriculature in the Classroom grant that enabled us to have the funds to work with PlantsMap.com in creating these signs.  You can follow our PlantsMap website at https://www.plantsmap.com/organizations/frederick-douglass-elementary-school-garden-lab .
iPad scan QR code sign   iPad scan K student   iPad scan QR code sign J   
Our PTA has provided funding for new arbors that will connect the raised beds and increase our crop production by allowing us more space to grow vertically.  We will experiment with produce and flowers growing together.
new arbors
 
Our First and Second Graders started a program called "Salad Science" with the Audobon Naturalist Society and planted in our new vertical planting boxes and raised beds.  Students will tend to the crops and harvest for a tasting.
 
 
Spring 2018
On Mother's Day Weekend, the Kindergarten team and students became a vendor at the Leesburg Farmers Market to continue their seed sale at the market.  Students sold the packets of seeds that they harvested from the garden for $1 a seed packet.  Our K students raised $232 for sustaining our garden lab.  It was a priceless experience for students, teachers, parents, and the families that helped.
girls selling seeds   seeds for sale   selling seeds
Spring is a great time in the garden lab for all different types of writing assignments.  Fifth graders write poetry inspired by the garden.  The poems written by the fifth graders are being illustrated by Kindergarteners.  
Poetry espalier apple tree   poetry in garden  Poetry reading rock  butterfly box observ  
First grade writing the garden. first grade writing
Kindergarten spends time writing in their nature journals about their observations on what happened to a crop under one of the frost covers.  
frost cover observ  
Kindergarten sells packets of seeds (cotton, hyacinth bean vine, and milkweed) harvested from the garden lab in a pre-sale to Kindergarten parents and at the Spring Festival to raise money to maintain the garden.  The Kindergarten classes completed the entire process of harvest, packaging, marketing, and selling the seeds with great success!  The final seed sale will take place at the Leesburg Farmer's Market on Saturday, May 12th between 8-12.
cotton harvest  packaging
 
 
 
 
Spring 2017
 
During staff appreciation week, the staff enjoyed a luncheon in the garden lab.
Staff eating in the garden   Marissa and James cooking for garden lunch  Cathy serving lunch in garden   Staff in garden lab for lunch
 We are excited about the addition of a new tiered strawberry bed with Tribute everbearing strawberry plants and a trellis that has an espalier apple tree that has three different types of apple on one tree.  How can that be? Three types of apples on one tree?  Be sure to go to Pop's Gardening Corner and watch the latest podcasts and to his blog to learn more.
 
 pop espalier apple tree
 
 
Spring 2016
 
A cold frame has been placed in the Southwest corner of this garden to extend our growing season of cool weather plants (lettuce, carrots, radishes, etc.) into winter.  If we put a horticultural heat mat in the bottom of the cold frame, we should be able to grow plants year round.  The rest of the garden is being planted with nectar and seed producing plants that will attract birds, butterflies, and other pollinators that are critical to the pollination of all our plants. Currently, there is blue columbine, yellow coreopsis, lunaria or 'Money Plant', along with a variety of annuals that are labeled and some that have reseeded themselves from last year.


We have completed the "Happy Table Sitting Stone Garden."  This small garden has a Japanese influence that comes from the use of dwarf mondo grass and four large seating stones placed around a small oval locust table.  This is a contemplative garden conducive to small projects, reading, having tea, or just sitting while observing the garden.  It has been placed in an area that receives a good deal of sun to warm the rocks.  The table is called the "Happy Table" for the two smiley faces painted on either end of it.  The dwarf mondo grass is popular in Japan.  It gets no higher than it is now.  It will fill in to become a thick soft mat that never needs cutting, and it will take light foot traffic once established.  The post that the honey locust table top is mounted on is black locust.  Both pieces are of native trees that are very rot resistant and should last many decades.  The honey locust has a salmon colored tint to it, while the black locust has a light chocolate color as the wood ages.  The rocks and the mondo grass with its undulating appearance make this a serene space.

We have a new tumble composter next to the shed.  The upper grades will be researching how to use the composter and prepare for use in the Fall.

There is a new bird house at the South end of the large table pad.  The large Amish bird house has ten nesting boxes in it.  It will attract small birds such as wrens, sparrows, finches and maybe chickadees.  The openings are too small for larger birds like cardinals or bluejays.  It is mounted on a 12 foot long western red cedar post so that it is visible from the second story of the school.  It is hoped that the children will identify the birds that come to the bird house and the garden and observe their eating and nesting habits and behavior.

The new "Shady Native Garden" is now in the NE corner of the courtyard by the library.  The Shady Native Garden features woodland plants in a natural setting.  The tree that is the centerpiece is a Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboretum, which is sometimes called a Lily-of-the-valley tree because it's blooms look much like lily-of-the-valley flowers.  Its flowers produce an abundance of nectar that bees make into a delicious honey.  This tree is especially attractive in the spring when it is in bloom and again in the fall when its leaves turn lovely shades of yellow and orange.  It is a mid-size tree, so it will not over-grow the area in which it lives.  Around the tree and throughout this little garden are planted a variety of native ferns, to include Cinnamon and Christmas ferns, Southern Shield Fern, and the small Hay Scented Fern.  Coral Bell, Heuchera, have been planted toward the left front corner that gets a bit more sun. Other plants will be added as they are collected - things like Virginia Blue Bells, Blood Root, Sweet Woodruff, and May Apples.  The rocks placed throughout the garden give it a natural woodland look, but more importantly they help retain moisture to limit the need to water, and they provide some protection to the plants and their roots.  This garden is a work in progress.

The Berry Beds have been planted in low raised gardens visible through the library Windows in one of the sunniest parts of the courtyard. 'Reka' and 'Jersey' blueberries have been planted in the beds to the left as one faces the library.  These plants will grow upwards of 4 feet tall and require no staking.  They should bear in a year or two.  If the birds discover them, we will have to be quick to get any fruit, or we well have to put nets over them.  At the other end, to the right of the blueberries, are an everbearing red raspberry named 'Caroline.'  When it starts to produce, it will bear fruit from early summer right up till Fall frost.  A trellis will keep the raspberries under control so they do not flop all over the place.  They have to be pruned every year and suckers pulled up so they do not grow out of control.
 

There are four new herb planters made out of Western Red Cedar and created by Pop.  Pop has placed one on each corner of the large paved area in the center of the garden.  They have been planted by Mrs. Miller's 2nd grade class with a large variety of culinary herbs.  Each plant has a label to identify it.

The Bean Trellis is planted this year with Hyacinth Beans on each corner and Scarlet Runner Beans in between.  These plants are particularly attractive to hummingbirds and other nectar feeders.  They should grow 8 to 10 feet tall.  The 'Starry Night' rose at the center will get larger as it gets older.  The daffodils will soon yellow and go dormant for the summer.  Already dormant are saffron crocus around the edges that will bloom this fall.  The daffodil foliage must be left until it turns yellow, so the bulbs can develop for next year.  Once the foliage is yellow, it can be cut back.  Right across from the Bean Trellis next to the patio is a new fig tree donated by Raza's family in Mrs. Cunningham's Kindergarten class.

 
In the raised beds, each grade level has planted a variety of crops.  Preschool has planted carrots, beans, lettuce, and cabbage.  Kindergarten has planted sweet peas, lettuce, and radishes.  First grade has planted carrots, lettuce, chard and beans.  Second grade has the butterfly garden with the plants beginning to peak up for a new season.  Third, fourth, and fifth grade have a huge cabbage crop with some cilantro growing in the fourth grade bed along with the cabbage.   In the staff garden, second grade has planted chard, cabbage, and tomatoes.  We have a donation of a squash plant in this area.
 
Mrs. Wilson in our Cafe has served many salads from the lettuce and strawberries harvested from our garden lab.  Cilantro has been used in the salsa she has made for us.  We were able to harvest part of our cabbage crop and had Mrs. Wilson's famous coleslaw served for lunch.  
 
The remainder of the crops will be harvested, prepared, and eaten by our summer volunteers as a thank you and the rest of the produce produced will be used in our summer lunches served in our Cafe.  We will have fed hundreds of children with our crops this school year!