Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Sunflowers and berries, and potatoes, oh my!

Children's Universe is a daycare down the street from our school and today we had a fun event with them in the garden! First, our NJ students started by reading books to the daycare children in our student lounge and then we set off for an adventure outside.  The NJ gardeners had started sunflowers (NJ's official flower) in our "greenhouses" in the classroom and today we transplanted those sunflowers outside with the help of the daycare children! Each NJ student got in a group with two daycare children and together planted 10 sunflowers down the fence.
One of our transplanted sunflowers from
the NJ greenhouse to the NJ garden! Hoping
the daycare children will enjoy coming over
to water their flowers and watch them grow
over the summer!
We haven't had a chance to make a "sunflower bed" yet so one
of the NJ students had a great idea to mark off the newly
transplanted sunflowers with some trail tape to ensure
the sunflowers weren't chopped up by the lawnmowers!
Our strawberry patch is coming along nicely as well! We've decided to remove the netting for now to ensure that the strawberries can be pollinated but we'll put the netting back once the berries are out!

Our ever-growing strawberry bed! We're so excited about
all the flowers. Flowers = strawberries!
Aren't the strawberry flowers
We found these fancy potato bags at Ritchies Feed and Seed and decided to try them out in the class! We know you can grow potatoes pretty much anywhere but we were curious to try these ones with the harvesting flap at the bottom. Essentially, we rolled down the bag and covered the bottom with some potting soil and vermicompost.  We then planted seed potatoes in the bottom of the bag and covered them with more soil.  Once the green stem comes out of the soil with some leaves we'll unroll the bag and keep adding soil (bit by bit) until the bag is full of soil (and hopefully yummy potatoes)! We'll keep you posted on how it goes!

Fancy potato planter!
The first layer of potatoes have
already started growing! These are
the Norland 'early' variety
seed potatoes from Ritchies

 Thanks for reading! Happy Gardening!

Thursday, 25 May 2017


Part of our Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grant has gone towards a classroom worm composter! We would love to be a sustainable program where we create our own soil for the gardens and we believe this is a great first step!

Students are so excited about our new Worm Factory 360! Below is a video of how the worm composter works!

We got our batch of red wiggler worms today from an awesome local company called Smart as Poop! They were so wonderful and had tons of information for us about vermicomposting (thank you!!!) 

The class took today to set the new red wigglers up in their new bed (made of shredded newspaper, coir and some soil).  We fed them some banana peels and the worms were so happy to get their first snack in their new home!

We covered them with soil
and put the lid on because they
don't like the light
our red wigglers all set up
in their new bed
Their first meal of banana peel

The students are learning what types of things go in the vermicomposter such as:
- vegetable scraps
- coffee grounds
- crushed egg shells
- shredded newspaper

They are also learning the types of things to avoid putting in the vermicomposter:
- meat/fish
- dairy products
- greasy/oily foods
- minimize citrus peels

We're so excited to be creating a more sustainable classroom and looking forward to being able to use this rich compost in our gardens!

Another update to come soon!

Happy gardening ☺

Friday, 19 May 2017

Weeding, growing and building!

Wow, what a productive week! So much has been going on in the Norman Johnston gardens! It's been such a gorgeous week weather-wise so the students have been busy outside working at building garden beds, weeding and planning.

There is a lot of work to do in our Traditional Indigenous Healing garden and the students have been hard at work making sure that all spokes of the wheel are weeded and that there is lots of room for the sacred plants to grow. 

A look at our Healing Garden
(the spokes include 4 sacred plants
 with great healing power -
sage, sweetgrass, cedar and tobacco)
Weeding our Traditional Indigenous Healing Garden
Students have done an amazing job at dividing our biggest bed into square feet so that we can plan what to grow in each square. 

Radishes have been the quickest
to germinate! It looks great with
16 radish plants per square foot!
The "H" bed all measured and divided up with labels
as to what was planted in each square! Some of these
squares are dedicated to transplants that we will be planting
next week or the week after.
Students are measuring out one of our new garden beds and dividing this into square feet as well! We have built all three of our new garden beds and filled them with soil.  This was hard work but they look great! Thank you to Growing Up Organic for providing us with the lumber, hardware and soil to make this happen!

Measuring out one of our new garden beds
Our strawberry patch is doing wonderfully! We're hoping that there will be a lot of strawberries for all of the students to enjoy soon! Using some rebar, plastic PVC piping, twine and netting we were able to build a hoop house to protect our strawberries from hungry animals and birds (but still leaving room for pollinators to get at the flowers). This was a really fun project! We're hoping to build similar structures over our other garden beds to put frost blankets over in the fall to extend our growing season!

A look at our new hoop house to protect our strawberry patch.
In behind the strawberry patch is two more of our new garden beds!
 Thanks for reading! We hope everyone has a wonderful long weekend!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Hydroponics, worms and more!

Hi all,

So, it's been quite the wet, cold week but we've still been super productive with our gardening!

We started with one Tower Garden in our classroom but now have TWO! These gardens are absolutely fantastic and allow us to grow all sorts of fresh greens hydroponically. We just finished planting a fresh round of mesclun mix in the new tower garden and are hoping to harvest some yummy mustard greens, leaf lettuce, pak choi and Italian parsley from it soon! Our older tower garden is ready to be harvested and we are hoping to create a salad for the school using the greens we cut!

Our two tower gardens.  Left is our brand new one with a fresh planting of tasty greens!
Right is our tower garden ready to be harvested.
The students have also been very busy covering our strawberry patch to make sure the berries are insulated from the frost.  We're hoping this will prevent damage to the plants and that we'll be eating juicy berries soon!

On the nice days, we were very busy filling our existing garden beds with soil and topping them up with some composted sheep manure (from Ritchie Feed and Seed).  We're so interested in composting and decided also to get a vermicomposter to help reduce our waste and provide much wanted compost to our garden in future years.  We decided on the Worm Factory 360 and will keep you posted on how it goes! We've set it up and are anxiously awaiting our worms so we can start composting our food scraps!

Worm Factory 360!
One of our garden beds topped up with garden soil
and some sheep manure

Our next task is to build some new garden beds so we can expand the space in which we can grow healthy foods for our school!  Growing Up Organic has provided us with beautiful lumber, hardware, landscaping fabric and garden soil for three new beds! Will update you on them once we've built them!

Happy gardening!

- NJ Gardeners

Monday, 1 May 2017

Prepping Week

Hi everyone,

Last week was super busy preparing the beds for planting and taking care of our growing seedlings! We were lucky to have the help of wonderful former student and horticulture expert, Sarina, who has also helped us with all of our previous workshops and blog writing. Thanks Sarina!

Check out all their hard work!

Students have been doing an awesome job ensuring
all seedlings are watered and happy.  Students are
documenting all of their daily work through photo journaling!   
Our pea seedlings are progressing so well!

All weeded and filled, this was tough work but the
students were up to the challenge!
It's hard work but most of the existing beds
are filled up! We'll just have to top up with
some compost too!
We're so excited about all the upcoming plans for the gardens at NJ! We're getting lumber delivered this week to build even more beds and plan to have all the existing beds topped up by the end of the week!

Stay tuned for our next update!

- NJ Gardeners