Friday, November 15, 2013

Hooper Elementary School Garden

Come take a tour of our New School Garden! 

            My sister and I have been working this past year to put together a School Garden for our kids Elementary School in Hooper UT. As a Horticulturist and Master Gardener, I found out about other school gardens in different parts of the country that were giving an enormous boost to the education of students. Because this is more rare in certain states (like Utah); I thought it would be a great addition to Utah and Weber County schools. We worked for an entire year with our very supportive faculty and district to gain permission to start our project. We wrote many grants for funding and gained support of local nurseries and wholesale businesses. With the help of generous local donors such as Flints Nursery in West Point, we were able to install our garden this fall and get it prepared for teacher use this spring!

       We hope this blog will update you on our garden, and provide ideas to how to use a school garden for the benefit of Elementary students.

       Here are some of the pictures of our new School Garden:
       We created the garden on the black-top because the district was concerned about water issues if we placed the garden on the lawn area. The only way we could gain permission was to create our raised beds on this space. We are hoping with future success of our Garden we will be able to expand to use in-ground gardens as well as our raised beds.

       We installed 9(8x3)raised vinyl garden boxes, one for each grade.... plus two more- the first for a 3-sisters garden, and the last for special needs. Eight of the beds are 12" deep and the vinyl material will make it very low maintenance and help keep moisture in so we can conserve water.

       This is our special needs bed, raised to 29", this bed will make it easy for special needs to reach and work in the planter box from a wheelchair, or non-bending position. We also placed it in the middle of already existing benches so this space may serve as an outdoor classroom for our students. We have applied for grant money to place an arbor over this area to provide some shade and beauty so it can be a central gathering place. In the left corner of this photo we will also be putting a tool shed with a combination lock when our grant money arrives.

       Here is a picture of our hard working Eagle Scout Peter Griffin and his scout troup that helped us install the garden this fall! Thank You! We couldn't have done it without you! 

       We are the First Elementary School in our district to have a school garden.  Gardening and plant-based learning opens a door to discovery of the living world.  It stimulates even as it focuses and calms. Within the school environment, a garden offers an unparalleled platform to help kids achieve learning goals in ways that are recommended by National Science Standards.   Hooper Elementary School has amazing potential to enhance student learning in an outdoor classroom setting.   It will be a great resource in helping us teach health, nutrition, math, science, and language arts! 

       We look forward to working with our amazing teachers this spring that have already shown interest in using our garden with their classes!   

Happy Gardening!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Plant a row for the hungry

Ohhh beautiful spring!
Doesn't the beautiful weather and sprouting bulbs fill you with gratitude? We are so spoiled in this rich country with warm comfortable homes and our very need at our fingertips. Yet statistics show that 1 in 8 households in the United States experiences hunger or the risk of hunger. Approximately 33 million people including 13 million children have substandard diets or must resort to emergency food because they cannot afford the food they need. For more hunger statistics click link below

When planning your garden this year consider helping others in your own local areas by planting a row for the hungry. It is a great thing to do with our children to teach them about helping others! Before you plan call local food banks, and soup kitchens and ask them about produce they need. Plan your row to grow things that will be most beneficial to them.
For more information on this check out the link below...

Plant a Row for the Hungry (National Garden Writers Association)

We have only a few short weeks to get ready to plant our peas and other Cole Crops. So I have been busy prepping my garden soil and adding as much organic material that I can. Adding organic material is the best thing you can do to improve your soil. A great place to find affordable and good quality compost is at the county green dump. We can get a yard of compost here in Weber County for about $15 a yard. I try to add organic matter every year so my soil gets better and better!

Don't mind my messy garden due to my sweet baby born in August!! There are only a few things I prefer over gardening- and being a mother is one of them :)

Now is a great time to pour over your seed catalogs and find what you want to plant this year. Remember to rotate crops from last year to get the best growing results!

Happy Gardening,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spinach, Peas, and Lettuce, OH MY!

I am excited that I have been lucky enough to have a garden growing in all the weird weather that we are having! But strangely enough we are already eating from our garden and loving every bite!
I harvested a big row of spinach last week and came out with 9 bags of spinach to share and eat in delicious salads! We have also been lucky enough to get some peas and lettuce that is making my grocery shopping bill smaller and my smile bigger! In a few weeks it will be time to plant all the cole crops again that you want a second try at. I for one will be replanting peas for sure- I can't get enough of those yummy things....and mine struggled this season. I hope they do much better in a fall crop. I am still puttering and planting a few things here and there, pumpkins that I didn't get in yet and I re-seeded some of my corn that has come up spotty because of the weather.

Weed control time is here and we have the blisters on our hands to prove it! Get out those hoe's people and make sure your garden can be found among the many weeds popping up. The ever-bearing strawberry varieties are starting to produce, and there is nothing sweeter. Keep them moist and they will give you a great reason to go into your garden. With the heat in the afternoon I find it most helpful to spend my hours in the garden in the early morning 5:30-8am and in the evening (with a good bug spray on for mosquitoes) 7-9:30... This time of year I can still see to work until about 9:45 at night.... amazing! You gotta love the long summer nights. Don't forget to thin carrots, beets, and turnips for best results.

I hope you are enjoying your garden food and looking forward to more ahead while our tomatoes, corn, beans, and squash are growing happily. Remember to water deep and infrequent, try to get the water to go down at least 6 inches. It saves water and makes for happier healthier plants.

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Annual Flower bed design

So I'll admit it, finally having nice weather I am having a hard time blogging. It is too fun to spend my time outside working and enjoying the still "cool enough to work" weather! I also have had to slow down a bit because I only have about 9 more weeks till my baby is born :) I apologize for the time gap but I thought I would post about one of the many things I have been working on outside lately....

Annual flower bed design! I have been inspired by many different places these past two years to start planting an annual flower bed or two each spring. It is so fun to find varieties that work well together and see the full splendor of summer annuals at their best. I used to not be a big fan of annuals until I saw the amazing ability they have to keep blooming all summer long. I have loved working with some more rare and tried and true varieties and trying something new each year.

I start by choosing a color scheme and think of the texture and spacing that I want. Some of the plants I like to use are flowering kale, purple basil, cardinal red salvia, cleome, gomphrena, profussion zinnias, imagination verbena, and black eyed susan. there are many other varieties you can experiment with, but those are a few of my favorites for zone 5. Look for plants in your nursery that are small and not too overgrown and lanky for the flat. The small plants do better because they are not so root-bound in the container. I really try to pack my annuals in the bed, the more color and texture the better. I count up how many flats of flowers I need for my space and place them by gently throwing the plants onto the ground and where they land is where they are planted. (please don't plant in cute little rows! there is nothing natural about it!) I try to copy nature as much as possible and random placement seems to be more aesthetically pleasing in my opinion.

Make sure you prepare the soil in your area well by adding plenty of organic matter and tilling before planting if possible. I also like to add some all purpose fertilizer to get things started well. I usually plant on may 15 but this year because of weather we are about a month behind schedule. My plants just went in about a week and a half ago and I am babying them until they get settled and start to do their thing!

They actually don't look like much now but in a few weeks will be beautiful as ever bursting with color and texture! I look forward to the enjoyment of it! I hope this will inspire you to try something new with the many amazing annuals that we have!

Happy Gardening


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trees that will take your breath away!

We're in the full swing of things and I finally dragged myself inside to blog instead of weed, and plant my garden. The nursery's are buzzing with people and our yards are starting to take a good share of our Saturday. It's really hard to get plants off your mind this beautiful time of year. I have been thinking a lot about trees this week because this spring we have planted 5 new trees in our yard. Here is a list of my favorite ornamental landscape trees for zone 5 and why... Not in zone 5? Check to see if these trees will grow in your area! Trust me you won't be disappointed!

1. Crabapple (Malus baccata) this tree has many beautiful flowering varieties and does well in most any location. They will even grow where I live with a high water table area and look gorgeous! Very low maintenance tree and amazing color in spring, and beautiful small edible fruits in the fall. Attracts birds, and kids to eat them :)

2. Zelcova (Zelcova serrata)- want a beautiful large shade tree with a lot of disease resistance? Zelcova is the answer! One of the prettiest shade trees I have found for our area! An amazing example of this is located on the Provo BYU campus next to the Wilkinson Center. I loved to walk by this tree and enjoy it's never-ending beauty.

3. Saucer/star Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana, or stellata for star)-This amazingly beautiful tree has blossoms the size of your fist and it just happens to bloom on my birthday every year! Spring bloom and beautiful shrub-like shape! Believe me it is breath-taking when it blooms and has large attractive leaves the rest of the season. The only down side is that it is very slow growing. (It's well worth the wait!)

4. White Fir, or Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga sp.)- One of my favorite evergreen trees with soft needles and an amazingly beautiful shape. The dark green needles next to it's white bark is very aesthetically pleasing in any landscape!

5. Tri-color Beech (Fagus Sylvatica)- Or any Beech tree for that matter! Beech wood is beautiful and so are the leaves of this amazing tree. I love the tri-color, weeping beech and even the common beech has amazing form and beauty. This tree does well in Utah, the most beautiful I have seen are on the grounds of the Logan Utah Temple.

6. Weeping Cherry (Prunus sp.)- Need a beautiful focal point in your yard? This tree will draw your attention all year round. Beautiful blossoms in early spring and stunning form all year round. Even winter months it is fun to look at! (just watch to make sure it is pruned to stay within the weeping graft!)

7. Red Oak (Quercus Rubra)- a beautiful shade tree that has nice leaves in spring/summer but really puts on it's show in the fall with gorgeous fall color. It grows well in Utah with few problems!

8. Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hipocastanum) This tree will always remind me of my grandpa! A huge hard wood shade tree with amazing blooms in the spring. Get ready to be amazed every time it blooms. I have literally stopped in traffic to see a mature horse chestnut bloom here in Utah. They are amazing enough it is one of the only trees that is going to be preserved with the remodel of the Ogden Temple. It has a brown round seed that drops off in the fall (great fun for kids to play with, but a little messy!)

9. Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) Another evergreen worth noting! This tree has linear soft flat needles and they turn yellow, orange before falling off in the fall. (Yes is is deciduous!) Likes to be planted near water! Beautiful choice for zone 5!

10. Lastly I would say any tree that is sentimental to you for any good reason is a great choice (as long as it does well in your area!). Trees evoke emotions that nothing else can and it is worth planting the tree that brings back good memories of a person or time of life!

Remember when planting your new treasure to dig the hole three times the size of your root ball. Plant only as deep as where the roots start to flare on the trunk! Do not plant it too deep! Place a hose near your new planted tree just dripping over-night to get a good deep watering and allow the roots to go deep into the ground.

Stop and enjoy the trees around you and notice all that they are accomplishing in the spring time!

Also, just for fun read this great article on Gardening with kids- here

Happy Gardening


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Video Info: How to Plant Tomatoes

Here's a very good video link for instructions how to plant tomatoes as you are getting ready to plant your gardens this year! Enjoy!

Thanks to Jerry Goodspeed at the Utah State Extension for posting this on the website!

Happy Gardening!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Summer Garden Crops

The peas, spinach, carrots and lettuce are sprouting and it's getting close to that summer planting time again in zone 5! The last freeze date in Utah is May 5th. However I may wait till the 15th or so this year because of the very wet cold spring we have had... I can hardly wait to plant my green beans, tomatoes, corn, squash, melons, peppers and a whole lot more delicious vegetables and fruits! Depending on how much you have to plant, I usually plan a couple of weekends to do the job. Seeds go in first, and then the plants that I always forget to grow from seed; like tomatoes, squash and peppers. For more info on specific crops and how to grow them look here.

Don't forget this year to think about Weed control. We are trying a few different things this year to help with our garden. We plant a pretty big space so each year we try something new to find the best way to control weeds and get the best yield. First, we are using black fabric for our squash, melons, and anything that is perennial or takes up a large amount of space. (Our only issue with this so far is that you need to stake it down pretty good so the wind doesn't blow it around. Also consider putting something like wood chips or mulch on top to keep it down and make it look better.) For row crops we are going to try to lay newspaper down in between the rows. You place 2-3 sheets on top of each other and water it down so it sticks to the soil and put compost, mulch on the top. I have heard this can keep the weeds down for 1-2 months. I have never tried this so I will let you know how well it works for us! The newspaper and mulch/compost breaks down and is a good soil amendment and you get less weeds win/win right?

Irrigation- This is also something we have worked on each year to improve and make less work for us each year. Also trying to be conscious of not using more than needed is important for our environment! If you live in a place where watering is not needed I am incredibly jealous. Watering is a lot of work in Utah and your plants suffer a lot if you mess it up! We have a small orchard, grapes and blackberries that we are working on putting in a drip system for. Set to a timer they should be pretty stress free once in place. We have tried flood, furrow irrigation, sprinkler and drip and for us a combination is needed to cover all the different watering needs we have. Consider the plants you have their requirements and supplies you already have to work with.

We really try to "train" our plants to have deep roots by watering them deeply (at least 8 inches) and infrequently (once every 5-7 days depending on weather). This makes your plants healthier than if you water daily and all the roots stay right on the surface of the soil! And it's better for our Mother Earth!

A few more spring tips:

*The next few weeks are also a great time to plant your annuals and containers! More to come soon about annual flower bed design. If you live in Weber County there is an amazing annual plant sale at the extension, free classes etc. look here for more info.

*Don't forget to break up your thatch layer in your yard by aerating each spring for a healthier lawn. For more tips on spring lawn maintenance look here.

*I like to add compost to my flower beds each spring from a local green dump to make my soil soft and amazing! A little each year makes a huge difference!!

*Enjoying your spring bulbs? Make sure the bulb stalk turns yellow and dies down to the base of the stalk before taking them out. Bulbs need all the energy from the leaves senescence to be able to bloom next year. When you can easily pull the stalk and it will gently snap off of the bulb it is the right time to take the stalks out and leave the bulbs in for next year!!

Happy Gardening!