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 :)

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Giving at Graduation

Our garden is overflowing with produce and we are so lucky to be doing so well! The students have been working tirelessly and their hard work really shows! Below is a video walkthrough of the garden prior to our big harvests.
We had an amazing graduation ceremony yesterday for our NJ class of 2017 and it was so awesome to see all the grads and all the hard work they put in to get where they are now.

We have been so lucky with our garden and the amount of produce we've been getting out of it so we decided to invite all the graduates, their friends and families as well as our special guests to come check out the garden and cut some lettuce, bok choy, spinach, kale and onions to take home.  Even after everyone came through and cut what they wanted we still had tons left over so some students have volunteered to come in to help pot up some lettuce plants and harvest more kale, spinach and strawberries (thank you!!!). We made some salad bowls with different kinds of lettuce and kept some of the lettuce as single plants in pots for people to take home and plant in their gardens.  Everything is so colourful and looks so beautiful.
a look at the lettuce harvest for today.  Sending lots of
this home with students and staff to plant in their
gardens at home.

A look at the two "salad bowls" we created with four
different varieties of lettuce.  They look so
colourful and tasty!

One of the ruby red lettuce plants potted
and ready to be transplanted in
someone's home garden.
Our bins of spinach and kale harvested from the garden today.
These will all be washed and frozen by our wonderful Foods
teacher and will be used in all sorts of foods for the students
in the fall.
We are so excited that there is still so much more to harvest from the garden.  We will be completing our harvest this week and next and plan to reseed with vegetables that have about 60-80 day harvest lengths so that when the students come back in September they will have lots of tasty vegetables ready to harvest!

Happy gardening! 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017


Another huge thank you goes out to Chris Shaeen from the Metro in Blackburn Hamlet for donating seeds to our garden program 2 years in a row! 

The seeds that Chris has donated the last two years have led to all of our wonderful produce from the gardens.  Here is this year's donation ...

Thank you so much for your generous donation Chris! We can't wait to get these seeds in the ground!

Happy gardening!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Irrigation System

Irrigation over the summer is a big hurdle to overcome for schools.  However, with a grant from Whole Kids Foundation we were able to set up a pretty awesome irrigation system that can be controlled from home! 

This irrigation system is SO cool! We have it set up with soaker hoses and sprinklers that can be turned on and off from a smartphone, anywhere.  This will be extremely helpful over the summer months when all the students are gone from school and we're waiting until September to harvest!  

We will of course go over to the school once a week or more to harvest food from the garden to freeze and to pick weeds (weeds never rest)!

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Huge Harvests!

We have been having huge harvests from the garden daily! 

We've had peas, lettuce (different varieties), kale, spinach, bok choy and LOTS of strawberries!

a look at the big gardens
more bok choy ready to harvest!
bok choy and turnips 
the onion bed is
growing so well
Happy gardening!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Thank You Very Mulch!

Thank you SO much to Gina from the Orleans Community Gardens for her amazing donation of mulch to the NJ student gardens!  We got a trailer full of wonderful mulch and we are looking forward to spreading it in the garden beds this week! It'll provide lots of help with water retention in the beds and will also help to keep the weeds away! 

There are so many incredible things going on at the Orleans Community Gardens.  They do weekly donations to the Ottawa Food Bank and have also got into the beekeeping business!  So much knowledge and so many kind people. 

The amazing community gardens run by Gina!
Found at 3352 St. Joseph Blvd and also
on Facebook!

The mountain of mulch that we picked from (with a shot of the
beehives in the background - what amazing work they're doing over
at the Orleans Community Gardens!

Our haul of mulch! 
A before and after shot of our Indigenous Healing Garden without mulch and
then the beautiful finished version with mulch! Our sage, sweetgrass,
tobacco and cedar will now be able to grow weed free! 
Thanks so mulch Gina!

Happy gardening!!