Sunday, 15 April 2018

Seed Starting

We started a ton of new seeds last week and are so excited to see them germinating! We are going to be participating in a seedling sale on June 2nd at the Blackburn Hamlet Funfair so we wanted to be sure to get some seedlings started.  We are also excited to get seedlings started for our garden beds at the school as well as for our brand new greenhouse!!!  We will be building three new garden beds this year again and we are so excited to have even more room to grow delicious, fresh crops for the students of Norman Johnston. 

Trays upon trays of seed starts (and this is only half of them)!
Plants include peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and cucumbers
as well as some flowers!

Marigolds! These will be great for our
seedling sale but also for companion
planting in our garden!
Some of the houseplants the students have been caring for and
propagating! Donations of plants (geraniums, hibiscus, purple queen,
spider, snake, and goldfish plants) from community members
Cheryl and Sarina have helped us so much!

Our tray of propagated succulents!
They're growing up so fast!

Some of our herbs are starting to germinate! Cilantro is
looking good!

We are so excited to update you on some photos of the greenhouse now that it is up and running! We have all sorts of plants growing in there as well!

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Garden Tower

We were so lucky to receive this Garden Tower with lights from the Classroom Gardens Manager at the Ottawa Network for Education. 

This tower is different than our hydroponic towers in that it uses soil to grow all of the plants.  We filled the garden tower with potting soil and planted one of our seedlings (that we started in class in one of our three tiered greenhouses) in each of the spaces.  We were able to plant 50 plants in our garden tower! 

In the middle of our garden tower is a vermicomposting tube.  We took some of the worms from our Worm Factory 360 and rehoused them in the new garden tower.  The middle tube is where we will add kitchen scraps for our worms to eat.

There is a drawer at the bottom of the garden tower where any extra water will flow (compost tea) which can then be reused to water the tower.  This drawer is also the place where you can harvest any vermicompost that you would like. 

When we first started our garden tower
What our garden tower currently looks like!

We have been able to harvest so much fresh produce from our garden tower and we are excited to continue to plant and harvest from this garden throughout the remainder of the school year. We have had great success with tomatoes (on the top layer of the garden tower) as well as basil, arugula, parsley, beans, peas, spinach and even radishes! We are excited that this garden tower will compliment the tower gardens (hydroponics) where we grow most of our lettuces for the school.
One of the three tower gardens in the
horticulture classroom.
Each tower holds 28 plants which can be
harvested using the cut-and-come-again

Close up of one of the leaf lettuce plants
in one of our three tower gardens
(not to be confused with the garden tower)
We are so excited to have the garden tower (orange - soil based) to work in conjunction with our three tower gardens (hydroponic lettuce/greens) and the two three tiered indoor greenhouses. With these three systems working so well together, students are able to prepare healthy salads and vegetables for the school every week using fresh produce grown by students in the horticulture course.

Thanks for reading! Happy gardening :) 

Outdoor classroom and greenhouse construction!

At the end of October/early November, as the fall horticulture came to a close we reflected on all of the projects we successfully completed.

The outdoor classroom was a success! We got it all done before the frost came.  Students spent time digging up all the grass to create paths and a footprint for where the classroom would be located.  They then put down landscape fabric to prevent weeds from popping up and finished by laying down wood chips to act as the floor for the classroom.  Stumps and log seating were donated by a local tree removal company and things came together beautifully.  It was a lot of hard work but totally worth it!

Once work had completed on the outdoor classroom, students got to work digging for the new greenhouse! We learned so many construction skills while building the greenhouse and with all the hard work of the students, our new 8' x 12' greenhouse is built! It won't be used until late March/early April but will help to extend our short growing season by at least a few months!

It's covered in snow right now but we are so excited to get in the greenhouse and start our seedlings nice and early! With this addition, we can start serving all sorts of healthy foods for the students to enjoy much earlier in the spring.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

October harvests!

Who would have thought we'd still have loads of fresh vegetables coming out of the garden in mid-October?  The garden is brimming with fresh produce to be harvested and the students at Norman Johnston are so happy with all the delicious meals made from these harvests!


We have so many photos to share and hope you enjoy them! It's been a whirlwind the past couple of weeks and we're so excited with how well the gardens are doing! 

Other items we'd love to update you on in future posts are
- our completed outdoor classroom
- how our frost blankets have protected our plants from dangerous frost
- the visit from the Federal Minister of Health
- Tower Garden hydroponic systems
- indoor greenhouses
- the building of our new outdoor greenhouse
- our soon to arrive vermicomposting Garden Tower
- our Worm Factory 360

Until next time, happy gardening!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Start-up Updates!

Wow, so much has happened in the last month! The students have been hard at work harvesting tons of produce from the gardens!

We've had celery, swiss chard, tomatoes, kale, lettuce, beans, potatoes, kohlrabi, beets, parsnips, carrots, crabapples, dill, oregano, parsley, sage, nasturtiums and sunflowers!

One of the first weeks of school, our students participated in the Harvest Moon Festival at Berrington Park in Orleans.  We had over 200 basil seedlings that we gave out to people who came to visit our booth at the festival.  We taught people how to transplant seedlings into their own little pots to take home.  We also had a square foot gardening workshop set up where we taught the public about how to implement square foot gardening in their own gardens! It was so cool to see all the people walking around the festival with their Norman Johnston basil seedlings in hand!


In our second week of classes, we took the students to check out MosaiCanada in Gatineau and were so blown away by the creativity and beauty of the displays. 


 Students worked hard at organizing NJ's first open house in which we were able to showcase all the hard work going on in the gardens! It was a huge success and we were so happy to invite the public in to see what goes on in our building.  It was wonderful to see parents, friends, grandparents, siblings and neighbours come to see all that we have to offer at Norman Johnston.

The big project currently going on in the horticulture course is the building of our very own Norman Johnston outdoor classroom. Students worked so hard at digging up all the sod to create a footprint of where the classroom will be located.  The students then laid down landscape fabric and are in the process of spreading out woodchips to create an accessible area for all students to come to learn and hang out.

We are thrilled with all of the projects and successes of the horticulture program and are so excited to continue sharing what we're up to! The next project we have planned is building an outdoor 8ft x 12ft greenhouse that will help to extend our growing season!

Happy gardening!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Summer Update

Hi all!

This summer has a been an amazing one in the NJ Gardens! We have had some amazing volunteers come to harvest some of the produce and blanch/freeze it for the students to use in September. The sunflowers are getting huge, the spaghetti squash is about ready to harvest and the kale has been growing non-stop! There will be a gardening course offered in September where the students will be busy at work harvesting all of the produce that is exploding from the gardens.  We are also looking forward to planting a crop of lettuce and radish in September for a quick harvest before the frost! 

An overall look at the garden beds overflowing with fresh produce! Our cute little helper, Murphy photo bombed
this shot!

Tomatoes when they were planted and what they
look like now! They've way outgrown their cage and
are about ready to produce a ton of tomatoes!
Carrots are ready to harvest any time now
and are poking their heads up through
the soil.
Sunflowers when they were planted by the daycare
students in May were 7 inches tall and are now
 7 feet tall!
Our onion harvest! Over 40 onions to
be used in Mark's cooking courses!

One of the many summer harvests
Another look at the gardens with the healing garden

A look at or herb bed.  The dill and arugula on the right
hand side are thriving! The sage, basil, oregano and parsley
are ready to be harvested as well!
Another one of the summer harvests

Our big raised bed with a new planting of kohl-rabi should be ready
for September.  Kale, swiss chard and carrots are ready to be harvested
as well.
Other side of the big raised bed boasts turnips, cabbage and another look
at the carrots.
The gardens have thrived this summer with all the rain and on days  where there wasn't enough rain we were thankful to have the awesome irrigation system set up to make sure our vegetables were happily watered. We hope everyone is having a wonderful summer and enjoying time outside!

Until next time,
Happy gardening!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

July garden update

Hi all, we hope you're enjoying the beautiful sunshine!

Just thought we'd put out a quick photo update on how our NJ garden is doing.
Our Indigenous Healing Garden is thriving! The sage
is growing so well (bottom) as well as the tobacco (upper right).
Throughout the garden are ornamental gourds (or at least that's
what we think they are)? We didn't plant these ones but thought
we'd let them grow to see what we get!
There is so much growing in our garden and we are so thrilled at how well it's been going!   

A collage shot of all the wonderful things growing in the garden!
From top left across we have: tomatoes, potatoes and spaghetti squash
all flowering, swiss chard (neon lights), beets, celery, kale, zucchini
and mustard greens.
Our blueberries (left) and raspberries (right) are just
about ready to be harvested and frozen! These will
go so well in smoothies for the students next school year.
Throughout the summer we have some dedicated volunteers that will be heading to the school to check on the garden and harvest any vegetables that are ready.  These volunteers have agreed to blanch and freeze the produce for the students to have in the fall.  

With the guidance and expertise of our absolutely amazing and innovative Foods teacher, Mark Frankish, the foods classes generally prepare meals for the whole school on a daily basis.   Having this extra produce on hand not only saves our small school money in grocery shopping but more importantly, engages our at risk youth.  This produce has been planted, cared for, harvested and cooked by our Norman Johnston students and this process teaches our students such valuable lessons in regards to sustainability, food security, and food preparation.

We had some student and teacher volunteers in after school
finished to help harvest, blanch and freeze even more produce
from the garden (kale, spinach, strawberries, mustard greens).
- see picture below
After the harvest they replanted the garden with more crops that
will be ready to harvest just in time for classes to start in September
(this way there is less to worry about harvesting throughout the summer).
- see picture above
Thanks for checking out our blog! We will update you in a couple of weeks when we harvest our beets (we will blanch and freeze the roots and the greens) and also when our new seeds begin to grow!

Happy gardening :)