The Garden Lady Returns

It always takes time to get school garden programming rolling again in the fall, but I finally started at both of my schools this week. So nice to get back to working with the kids! I definitely had a mini camp-moment, when I almost called a grade 2/3 class “EcoCampers”, but other than that, I was pretty much in school mode.

On Tuesday, I was at Withrow where I started off with a grade 2/3 class doing a Five Senses poetry activity.  We started off doing a little 5 senses review, then headed outside.  We did a bit of a scavenger hunt in the garden and schoolyard, where they had to write down descriptive words for things they saw, felt, smelled, heard and tasted (the last one only in the garden, of course).  It took a little bit of time to understand that they should be writing down descriptive words rather than just listing the things the saw, heard, etc.  For example, if they felt a tree trunk, they could write words like “rough”, “bumpy”, “hard”, etc. rather than just writing “tree”.  Then at the end, the plan was to write “cinquain” poems (an idea that I got from here), which we unfortunately didn’t have time to finish.  But they definitely got the concept of the poetry plan, and were starting to come up with some good ideas as we walked back to class.  Also, the kids spotted a downy woodpecker, which was really cool.  They were pretty into it!  Some of them even came up to me later in the day to ask what kind of woodpecker it was.

The Three Sisters Garden at Withrow

At lunch, we had our first Garden Club meeting for the season.  I had about 20 kids on the sign-up list, but seems they mostly forgot… I only had three girls show up.  But they were really into it and we got a good amount done – pulled out some sunchokes that had grown pretty huge right on one of our paths, and also harvested some potatoes.  In the afternoon, I had a kindergarten (JK/SK) class, where we went out and discovered the garden, also doing a simple little 5 senses activity. Wow, JKs are little! But fun!

The Withrow garden hasn’t been as productive this year as it has been in previous years.   Mostly the tomatoes (which have been huge in previous years!) have been a bit sad this year – I think it was too dry when they first went in and they didn’t really get a chance to establish.  Aww well, always a learning opportunity.  The kale, on the other hand, looks pretty great! The kohlrabi is growing alright.  The lettuce looks awesome, but is really bitter. And, as always, the sage, oregano, mint and lemon balm are growing prolifically!

The lettuce in the Withrow garden looks beautiful. Too bad it tastes super bitter…


The potatoes we harvested from the Withrow garden!












The next afternoon, I started teaching at Blake.  So great to be back there too! Wow, it’s amazing how much kids grow over the course of 3 months!  I’m super lucky to have a placement student working with me at the Blake garden from now until April, so Kayla was there with me at Blake too.  (I work at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre for part of my work at Blake, and Kayla is a student doing her placement at the health centre.)  She’s previously done a placement at The Stop Community Food Centre, so she’s got some experience doing food and garden programming with kids! Hooray! Super excited to have someone helping out on a regular basis, both at the school and with planning. But now I just have to learn to delegate! This will force me to be more organized… (which is a good thing!)  Anyway, Wednesday afternoon’s project with both classes was WEEDING!  The garden was quite the jungle.  We started with a grade 2/3 class and then also had a grade 1 class to finish off the day.  The students also started their garden journals, as having a whole class in the garden at a time would be a bit too crazy.  But wow, as I’ve discovered before, kids love weeding!  It’s good putting their destructive powers to constructive use! 😉  My general plan for weeding with kids is to show them the 2-3 most prominent weeds and have them just pull out those.  This works relatively well.  I also tell them my #1 rule for weeding: if you’re not sure whether it’s a weed, ask BEFORE you pull it out!  And as far as I could tell, none of our intentional garden plants were harmed in this power weeding session. And now the garden looks less like a jungle and more like a garden! Hooray!

The Blake garden BEFORE weeding.

The Blake garden AFTER weeding.









The garden overall looks alright.  The tomatoes are growing, and I’ve harvested some and frozen it so we can use it for some cooking activities later in the fall.  The cayenne peppers also look great! The potato plants look good – excited to see what’s growing under ground. The kale looks good, but has lots of aphids – yuck.  There are a few carrots, a bit of channa, some herbs here and there (the basil’s been great!)… And guess what – the sage, oregano and mint are growing like stink!

And yes, we’ve now got compost bins… I promise there are pics of those coming very soon!

Happy growing!


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