Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Green Room Spring Update

With spring fully upon us, I thought it might be time for an update on our "green room."

Last year, at about this time, a University of Washington design/build team completed a green house for us. We have now had a year to experiment with this new addition to our teaching team. She sat relatively fallow last summer as we all dispersed and we hadn't made appropriate plans. In the fall we found ourselves dealing with rats who were interested in what food we did try to grow. Then winter hit us with its cold, short days, but as we approached spring we had figured things out: adding a grow light, purchasing some heated pads to encourage germination, and, most importantly getting the kids more involved. We've found that squirt bottle watering, refilling one's own watering can at the rain barrel, planting new seeds, transplanting, and snacking are the most popular activities.

Now, it's a real growing concern. We still have a lot to learn, especially about rotating crops over to the "grazing garden" on the playground side of the school. And we'll be much better about timing things next year, but we're currently looking at a healthy crop of tomatoes, kale, lettuce, snap peas, pole beans, and nasturtiums. Indeed, we're already on our second crop of kale. 

There are herbs like rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, mint, chives, and basil.

We spouted radishes, carrots, brussels sprouts, beets, broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, and celery. We're experimenting with jalapeƱo peppers (the kids' choice: they all wanted to grow them for their dads), artichoke, snow peas, sweet potatoes, and a pumpkin that we transplanted from where it took root in our worm bin.

We are fast developing into a community of garden grazers. We're having trouble keeping leaves on our leafy green things, which is just fine given that we will have replacement plants from the green house ready once those are gone.

This is just the beginning. We still have a lot to learn. My personal short term goal is see just how much we can produce, to fill the green house and its surrounding outdoor beds with so much green it's hard to move, all with food hanging from every branch and stem. I'm shooting for a significant, even overwhelming, autumn bounty when we return at the end of summer. I'd really love to have so much that we can make donations to local food banks.

And I'm looking forward to keeping everyone updated on our progress.

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