Feb 2012 Louisiana School Gardening News

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Feb 2012 Louisiana School Gardening News ` For more information, Please see websites below: ` Organic Edible Schoolyards & Gardening with Children http://scribd.com/doc/239851214 ` Double your School Garden Food Production with Organic Tech http://scribd.com/doc/239851079 ` Free School Gardening Art Posters http://scribd.com/doc/239851159` ` Companion Planting Increases School Garden Food Production by 250 Percent http://scribd.com/doc/239851159 ` Healthy Foods Dramatically Improves Student Academic Success http://scribd.com/doc/239851348 ` City Chickens for your Organic School Garden http://scribd.com/doc/239850440 ` Simple Square Foot Gardening for Schools - Teacher Guide http://scribd.com/doc/239851110

Text of Feb 2012 Louisiana School Gardening News

  • 1. Veggie Bytes 2012 February MarchApril Volume 3, Issue 1 Ponchatoula High School Students Present Food for Thought a Farm-to-Table Dining Experience INSIDE THIS ISSUE Ponchatoula High Presents Food for Thought 1 Whats Growing 2 Soil is so much 3 Connecting the Classroom: 4 Vericomposting for the classroom 5 Taste Test/Soil Test 6 Under the direction of Ms. Alice Dubois, 220 AgriScience and Future Farmers of America (FFA) students at Ponchatoula High have constructed and maintained 75 4x8ft raised beds and 15 wheel chair accessible gardens. Students grow vegetables, strawberries and herbs in both spring and summer gardens. Excess produce has been donated to local homeless shelters, food banks, and senior citizen apartment complexes. Ms. Dubois and New Orleans chef Dickie Brennon have partnered to create a farmto table fundraiser benefit dinner. The event is billed as Food for Thought, Ponchatoulas Culinary Event of the Year. In addition to growing produce in the garden, students also began raising duck to add to their menu. Local producers Covey Rise Farms, Community Coffee, Old New Orleans Louisiana Rum, Cajun Grains, P&J, and Abita Springs have already committed to sponsorship of this event, and students are encouraging other local producers to join in. When asked how many hours it has taken to coordinate this event, Ms. Dubois stated It was impossible to determine. This is such a team effort. Anyone who wants to do something like this has to be really passionate about what they do. Ms. Dubois adds A farmtotable meal is an excellent concept that can be used to teach so many different things from world hunger to local food production. Focus on what you want to accomplish. We want to make this an educational event. We want anyone who comes to this event to leave with a much greater understanding of the farmers in the community and the availability of fresh food to all groups, to understand that there is food insecurity in our local community Dubois said. Alice Dubois has taught Agri Science courses for 17 years. She continues to incorporate horticulture concepts into her curriculum because she believes it is a great learning tool for students, not only to learn about plant science and environmental issues, but they (the students) see value in what they are doing. They learn the skill of growing and providing food for themselves Ponchatoula High Agri Science and FFA students enjoying their garden. and their families. Alice works closely with Mrs. Sandra Benjamin, the county agent in Tangipahoa parish. Sandra Benjamin and other county agents are excellent resources provided by the LSU AgCenter to schools across the state. Continued on page 6 Page Veggie Bytes
  • 2. Whats Growing! Gardening tips Start gearing up for your spring vegetable garden now so that you can harvest produce before school lets out for the summer. Typically in Louisiana, spring vegetable crops are not planted outdoors before the last frost date. South Louisiana gardeners can plant around March 15th, North Louisiana gardeners should wait until April 1st. However, if you want to harvest a few ripe tomatoes, peppers, etc. before school lets out youll need to start transplants indoors. To grow transplants, plant seeds into containers in a sterile soil germinating mix indoors (in a sunny window). Do not move these transplants or seedlings into the garden until they have developed their first true leaves and after the last chance of frost. See the planting guide for vegetables that can be planted now. Vegetables to plant in February In the garden direct seed: beets, turnips, mustard, parsley, radishes, lettuce, snap beans and Irish potatoes. In the garden plant transplants of: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and lettuce. In the classroom: start transplants of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Vegetables to Plant in March In the garden direct seed: snap beans, Swiss chard, radish, lettuce, collard greens, mustards, and turnips. In the garden plant transplants of: tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. In the classroom: start cucumber transplants, plant after last frost Vegetables to plant in April In the garden direct seed: snap beans, butter beans, radish, collards, and cucumbers. In the garden transplant: sweet potato slips, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. If you have a yearround school program or summer classes that will care for and work in the garden, you can also plant the following vegetables. Sweet corn can be directly seeded into the garden in LATE February. Plant cantaloupes, squash, cucumbers, and watermelons well after danger of frost is over. This is usually after March 15th in south Louisiana and closer to April 1 in North Louisiana. Okra, Southern peas (field peas), peanuts, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash, and sweet corn can be direct seeded into the garden in April. These vegetables are not generally recommended for school gardens that will not be tended by students during the summer. Students should be allowed to harvest everything they plant. Soil! Get the Inside Scoop by David Lindbo and others. Suggested book: Copyrighted by the Soil Science Society of America, Inc. ISBN # 2008930771. This is a wonderful book covering all aspects of soil from formation through uses, benefits and soil types. A must read for all life science and earth and space science teachers! Although this book was written for students ages 912, I think it is an excellent resource for all classrooms. Page 2 Veggie Bytes
  • 3. Soil is so much more than dirt! needle and leaf detritus laid upon the surface, and animal manures spread far and wide. Did you know there are more microorganisms in one tablespoon of soil, than there are people living on earth? These microorganisms help to make medicines that keep us safe from disease. But soil does much more than that Special clays and organic matter in the soil store nutrients needed by plants. In essence, they are like Mother Natures own fertilizer. Soils store water as it slowly percolates through the various layers and provide shelter for a wide range of animals. Soil science is a wonderful career which integrates a number of different scientific disciplines such as chemistry, physics, geology, and biology. You might think soil scientists dig around all day in the sun with shovels. On the contrary, soil scientists use some of the most cutting edge scientific equipment available such as portable xray fluorescence spectrometry, diffuse reflectance spectrometry, ground penetrating radar, neutron probes, satellite imagery, geographic information systems, and laser induced breakdown spectroscopy. Whether youre looking for a challenging career, or just wanting to learn more about soils, check out these great web resources: www.soils.org; http://soils.usda.gov/; http://www.iuss.org/. Remember; soil is much more than dirt! Be good stewards of the soil for future generations and touch the land lightly. David Weindorf Soil. It is one of our most underappreciated natural resources. Oil, coal, and natural gas may dominate modern media, but without soil, you would be hungry and naked. Think about it. From the soil, we grow vast amounts of crops (corn, oats, wheat, rice, barley, sunflower, potatoes, etc.); staples which we depend upon for everything from bread to potato chips. Wood for home construction comes from trees supported by soil. Soil purifies our water, insulates us from extreme temperatures, even forms bricks from which our cities are built. Ancient civilizations have risen and fallen based upon their soil resources, and today with the world population exceeding 7 billion, soil is more important than ever. But how do you determine the best uses for your soil? Pedologists are specially trained soil scientists who study the soil and its properties. They evaluate a wide range of physical, chemical, and biological soil properties and group soils into a taxonomic classification system which helps landowners and farmers understand how to use their soil resources wisely. Using field portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry to assess peri-urban heavy metal contamination in soils of southern Louisiana. Soil is essentially a loose collection of very small mineral grains; sand, silt, and clay, in various proportions. Organic matter is added to this mix via the degradation of old roots, Desert soils laden with gypsum in southeastern New Mexico. Sampling a vol-canic ash soil in northern Idaho Page 3 Veggie Bytes
  • 4. Connecting the Classroom to the Garden Which Soil Is Best? Materials Needed: Dixie cups Pencils Sharpie markers Bean, lettuce, radish seeds Watering can 4 types of soil: 1 bag of sand, 1 bag of top soil, 1 bag of peat moss, and soil from the school yard or your backyard A sunny window sill or outdoor space (full sunlight) A tray Instructions: Divide students into groups of 3 to 4. Provide each group with 4 Dixie cups. Have students poke one to two holes in the bottom of each Dixie cup (this is for drainage). Label each cup with the Group name Plant type grown (bean, radish or lettuce) Type of soil used. You may do this activity with only one type of plant but using several is more fun. Each plant MUST be grown in all four soil types. Fill each label cup with soil. Fill cups to the top and water in. The soil will settle. Next plant the seeds. Seeds should only be planted two times as deep as they are wide! Planting the seeds too deep will result in poor germination. Water the cups