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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

February in the School Garden

We have been exploring seeds, winter sowing, germination techniques and cooking this past month with our in-class, after-school and intergenerational garden club programs. Here's a little update.

After School Clubs have harvested, dehydrated and created kale powder for Chef Ron to put into his soups and sauces. Awesome work team! We've learned how to use apple slicers for apple crisp, carrot and cabbage graters to make coleslaw. We used electric and juice squeezers to create beet, berry, apple, orange, carrot, and cranberry juices. Can you guess which juice was our favourite? We've blended avocados, cocoa and milk together to make both nutritious and delicious pudding and we baked tasty kale chips freshly harvested from our Food Forest! Bonus: we cleaned all our dishes, tools, counters and our hands!

Have you heard of winter sowing? Our Intergenerational Garden Club along with Mr. Holt's Grade 2 class, as well as Ms. Aujla's Grade 4/5 class, explored planting seeds in recycled milk jugs. First they need to be cleaned, next create drainage holes, research the seeds, cut the carton in half, leaving a bit attached, label, mix soil and water, plant seeds, tape closed and put them in the greenhouse or outside in the Food Forest. You can watch a how-to video on our YouTube channel. We are thrilled to report our spinach and arugula have already sprouted!

What about seeds? Different types of seeds? What do seeds need to germinate? What's in a seed? Where can we buy seeds? How to harvest seeds? Can we eat seeds? We spent each week being seed detectives with many experiments to try and answer our questions!

First we read A Seed is Sleepy, The Bad Seed and The Tiny Seeds. Our garden tool belts began to fill up with fascinating seed facts. We learned seeds are like time capsules waiting for the right conditions to "wake up". Then they can use their stored energy to germinate and start growing into seedlings. They need air, water and warmth. A seed can stay asleep for months or years waiting to germinate. Even if a seed is planted upside down, the seedling always grows right-way up. Why? Because plants can sense gravity. We discovered seeds that are sticky and prickly can stick on the fur of animals and be dropped far away from home.

Our first experiment was to find our seeds. Ms. Bruhwiler's and Mrs. Holt's Kindergarten classes ate many Ambrosia apples to discover that very few had more than one or two seeds and they were so tiny. Miss Baas' Grade 1 class tested several different types of apples: Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Organic, Honey Crisp, Pink Lady and a mystery apple. We discovered Pink Lady and Red Delicious had the most seeds. All three classes created paper and plastic ziplock bag greenhouses, added water with cotton and an apple seed and put them in the window. Three weeks later 5 seeds germinated out of all of the seeds. They had water and there was air but was it too cold against the windows? This week we moved them into a cupboard in the class. We will report back to you next month. Which type of apple seeds do you think germinated? We are hoping to add to our Food Forest with a few more apple trees that we germinated from seed this fall. Wish us 'Green Thumb luck'!

The second experiment was using pellets. Mrs. Avila's class had fun seeing their pellets grow with water. We planted 25 peas. So far 10 have germinated! One of our students' observation was peas are a cool crop - they like the cold. Perhaps we will have a better chance with them. We harvested seeds from strawberries, dried them, and put them into pellets. None germinated.

The third experiment was in Miss Baas' class using jars with paper and water. Now, it was tricky to slide the pea seed down the side to watch them grow. We decided to put them up high on a shelf. Fingers crossed next week we will have two inch peas shoots.

Our last experiment was with Ms. Aujla's class. We dissected and feasted on mangos, apples, pears, blueberries, grapes, tomatoes, papayas, nectarines, avocados and peaches while seed saving. Imagine the types, shapes, and sizes of seeds we discovered and saw through new eyes. We put all the seeds into individual bags with water and cotton. Curious which seeds germinated? The answer may surprise you. Tomatoes, peppers, apples and MANGO.

It's been huge fun cooking, seed researching, seed germinating and eating this month. Eating I think would be on the top of the list!! The greenhouse plants are thriving! We planted broccoli from starts and greens by soil blocking with the seniors in September. We are thrilled to report that we have been nibbling mustard, arugula, beet, cilantro and broccoli greens all this month. AND, two classes have been eating broccoli this past week! Way to go Greenhouse and thanks for being the little house that could stand up to this winter storm!

We want to thank you for ALL YOUR ONGOING SUPPORT. See you in the garden!

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