April 2014 Meeting

Were we ever glad to see that the weather cooperated for us to go to the Red Wolf garden! But before that, we talked about what makes garden plants thrive, and came up with the quality of the soil as a large determiner of that. In order to have great garden soil, we probably have to amend the soil with good “ingredients”, and one of those is humus, which is typically the top layer that is full of microorganisms and beneficial insects that break down components to make them plant-ready to take up into their roots. Making a compost pile and then adding the broken-down compost to our gardens is the easiest way to create good soil.

So, we talked about compost , how it is made, and how we can make it at home.  We looked at pictures of the critters that frequent the compost, by eating it and then excreting it.  Some of them are so small, that it would take a very keen eye or a microscope to see them!

The homework assignment has to do with making our own compost and is at the very bottom of this posting.  Note, parents will need to assist their children in this assignment.  Get started as soon as possible, as this will take a while to see results.

We then went out to the garden to clear it of the pine needles.  (Good thing they were there since the autumn, as they prevented the weeds from taking over!)  The Sunflowers took turns turning over the soil, making furrows, dropping two kinds of radish seeds, marking which seeds went where, covering up the seeds with a very little bit of soil, then watering the rows.

Many thanks go to Elizabeth Blow and to Kelly Ibrahim who were able assistants to the class.

Homework Assignment:

Sunflowers JMG Homework due May 8: Compost Experiment …  Parents: Please help and GET STARTED SOON!

You will need:

· 1 gallon-size plastic freezer bag

· 1 cup greens (rich in nitrogen):  fresh plant material such as lawn clippings and young weeds, fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, chopped or torn into small pieces

· 2 cups browns (rich in carbon):  dried plant material such as chopped woody branches, fallen leaves, straw, cornstalks, shredded newspaper, chopped or torn into small pieces

· 1 tablespoon soil

· spray mister bottle with water

What to do:

(1) Put the green and brown matter and soil into the bag and mist it with water until the browns are moist but not soggy.

(2) Seal the bag tightly with a zip top or twist tie.

(3) Massage the bag daily to mix up the ingredients.

(4) Open the bag every other day for 6 hours to aerate it.  Then reseal it.

(5) On a piece of paper with your child’s name on it, write down any changes you and your child observe. Be sure to write the dates, too.  In 2 to 8 weeks, you will have dark brown compost.  What does it smell like?

(6) Bring back your compost and your written observations to class on May 8.


At our next meeting on May 8, we will be looking at the composting homework that the Sunflowers take back to class, harvesting the radishes (hopefully!), tasting them, and having an end-of-year celebration.

See you then!

Mary Zimmerman