Hay isn’t just for horses . . .

It’s for Harvest Festivals and mulching!

Not just decor anymore! The Bales of Straw that we used in the Pumpkin Patch at the Harvest Festival were put to work in the Garden!

Ms. Davis brought her 1st Graders out to spread straw that will help keep weeds and mud at bay! They also broke into small groups and watered their seedlings, helped harvest sugar snap peas, raked the Decomposed Granite pathways and did a great garden clean up! Was it the wind? We don’t know but there was a lot of litter in the garden and in the Habitat Garden! Not to worry- these 1st Graders brought their A Games to the task and de-littered the two spaces! Great job guys!

Mr. Goul’s classes are well known for their excellent work in the garden and this Friday was no exception! They spread two more bales of Straw, added new bedding in the run and coop, harvested peppers and cleared the tomato plants from the raised beds. They also turned straw into the soil and removed the (modified version of Ollas) watering system from the former tomato beds then cleaned and stacked the pots for use next season. They learned about transplanting and began the big job of moving a root bound Washington Navel from a wine barrel to its new home in the citrus grove. They were surprised to see crowded the roots of the Orange tree were- as they carefully troweled around them! They also noticed how the wood slats in the wine barrels were shrinking which led into a conversation about how the wine (liquid) plays a structural support roll in keeping the barrels from leaking by keeping them swollen from the inside! (none of them were familiar with Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner- http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/17325 – but sure those boards did shrink!)

While all of this was happening another group attacked some sneaky weeds and started a garden waste pile. We ran out of time but Stay tuned 5th graders… Operation-Save-the-Navel will wrap up this coming Friday!

Hey Mr. Burkhouse do you remember when we added the two stock troughs to the Garden in Fall of 2012? I sure Do!!! We filled those troughs using the “Lasagne Method” and stacked layers of branches, cardboard lunch trays, straw, green garden waste, manure, paper, and dirt. Fast forward two years to Fall of 2014 ….and the soil level had dropped by about 8″!!! What was happening in there? We had to find out and as luck would have it- Mr. Burkhouse was on the schedule to witness the results! His students worked fast to clear and prep some new homes for the Boysenberries currently planted there and got to work transplanting them. After the plants were removed we dug into the “Lasagne” and found almost ZERO evidence of the layers of various organic material and in their place found dark, rich garden soil!!! To compare the rate of decomposition we headed over to the new raised beds that were installed (by Doug Robinson) last year. The students rolled up their sleeves and dug in again! We noticed that in the raised beds that we filled last May & June using the same method there was still a layer of solid branches and logs at the bottom but that most of the cardboard had already broken down! In our haste to fill the beds last year we overlooked some packing tape that came with the moving boxes we used in our cardboard layer and guess what? The packing tape was still intact…. noted!

This seems like a good time to give another round of thanks!! First to Doug Robinson for his major contributions to the garden! Did you know he built the Chicken Run too?! The raised wooden beds nearly doubled our planting space and the chickens have been a huge success with the Students. These Hens may seem like your average Chickens but they inspire curiosity and learning about food systems in a way that not every elementary school child gets to experience; live action, hands on, SCIENCE!! So…a big thank you Doug for your help in getting us here! Second to all of you who have taken a caterpillar from the Garden Wish list and brought those much needed items out to the Garden- Thank You! We had a Surprise visitor on Friday- Coach Moreno’s Mom (who is also a Phoebe Grandparent) came out to say Hi and to donate a very nice 100′ Hose and a new rake! The Phoebe Garden wouldn’t be the great place that is is without your support and we Thank You!!

Garden Side Note! We are looking to expand our green it like we mean it efforts out here and get working on a school wide waste reduction plan…Phase One- Compost!
Is there an interested Parent/Parents that would like to take on the Greatly rewarding task of Compost Coordinator? If so please get in touch! 4phoebegarden@gmail.com

We Plant. We Sow. We Learn. We Grow!

Feeling Good From My Head ToMaToes!

Thank you Mrs. Relles for braving the fog this chilly morning and bringing your class out to work with our many parent volunteers in four Garden Stations! Kindergartners were able to get some Carrots planted, Be Chicken Herders, Learn about Composting Worms and be Garden Detectives! Did you know that the plant (green part) of a carrot can grow up to 3 Feet tall and flowers in late summer? So that’s where Carrot Seeds come from! Mystery solved! The Worms were a huge hit with the Kindergarten! We took a look at what the worms eat and how they live and we fed them a breakfast of kitchen scraps and paper. Most of the students could identify the contents of their breakfast bucket but none of them wanted to try any. The Students were surprised to find out that given enough time Worms will eat an entire book or even a piece of cotton clothing- but it is true! Books are paper and paper comes from trees, Cotton comes from a cotton plant. When it comes to lunch- these worms aren’t picky! Ask your Student about the amazing composting Worms! A big THANK YOU to the parents who came out this morning!

Mr. Henricksen and his 6th Graders were next out in the garden this morning and what a difference an hour can make! The fog lifted and there was a sunny day waiting for us! They got to work getting the Tomatoes pulled and the soil turned in the raised planters for our next crop, they raked the Decomposed Granite paths around the Raised Beds, continued the Mulching project and watered the newly planted seedlings as well as all of our other Fall crops. Hillary and I encouraged them to self manage and they were amazing as they organized, broke into groups and got to work all on their own. We decided to pull the Tomatoes but we let a different summer crop march on into Fall- that crop is…. the Cucumbers!! They are still covered in Blossoms and a dozen tiny fuzzy baby cucumbers. They won’t survive a hard freeze but we decided to see if they might mature before then! Stay tuned!

We hope to see you all at the Harvest Festival tomorrow! Come out for a great time- Rain or Shine!

Have a great weekend Phoebe Families!

We Plant. We Sow. We Learn. We Grow!

It’s a Garden Party–Lettuce Turn-ip the Beet!!

Another great Garden Friday! As the weather decides to finally agree with the calendar we are getting our fall crops planted!

Mrs. Warren brought her 3rd graders out and planted beets, lettuce and turnips. Did you know that before carving pumpkins became a tradition people carved turnips for Halloween?

3rd grader Christopher tending to Bella, the hen

Some crops we planted from seed while others were starts (baby plants). The students worked in stations and rotated through planting, watering and chicken tending.

Luckily we had some skilled worm hunters out today. They helped rid out cabbage and kale of these damaging pests!!

In our final station, parent volunteer Lorraine, introduced them to the latest addition to our garden: Composting Worms!

Lorraine, our Phoebe Worm Docent! The students were fascinated by these hard working worms!


These guys turn almost anything into excellent fertilizers in the form of castings (droppings) and “tea”. Worm Tea?!? That’s right! Ask your students if they learned any fun worm facts today!

Harvested today–these beans turn bright green when cooked!

Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Nazari brought their classes out next as part of a special group–The Kinder-Buddies!!! Watching the 5th grade buddies rise to the challenge of guiding their Kindergarten partners, emphasizing team work and friendship, is pretty cool. They learned about chickens and worms and planted carrots together.

Thank you Ann for working with our Kinder-Buddies! Parent volunteers make the garden even more fun!

Mr. Iliff brought a mix of his 4th graders and Mr. White’s 4th graders out today. They were our last class of the day and were able to get so much accomplished! We talked about chickens and were excited to learn that we have a teacher/farmer at Phoebe! Mr. Iliff was able to share some interesting chicken behaviors! Ask your students about how his hens co-parent!! These students also planted the remaining lettuce plants, watered all of the other classes’ plantings, started some beets and turnips and took the hens on a field trip to the Dwarf Orchard and the Habitat Garden.

Wrapping this up with Gratitude:

A huge THANK YOU to all of the wonderful parent and grandparent volunteers today! We truly appreciate your help and enjoy your company!

Another THANK YOU to Lorraine Garrison for her efforts in adding composting worms to our garden!

Last but not least, THANK YOU to the many Phoebe families that have pulled caterpillar notes from our wish list board in the office! We’ve received your tools and are so excited to put them to use!

Our “Garden Wish List” located in the front office
We plant. We sow. We learn. We grow!

Phoebe Hens & Air Plants

Oh, what a busy day!

Mrs. Ripley’s 1st grade class and Mrs. Watson’s Kindergarten class joined us for the first time this year out in the garden! They were introduced to the Phoebe hens and learned all about the chicken life cycle, what they eat, how they sleep and when/where they lay eggs. We were lucky to hear the tell tale sounds of egg laying while we were out in the garden and the students got to see the freshest possible egg. Did you know that chickens put themselves to bed at dusk? Your students do! Ask them about more chicken facts!

We looked at a variety of “Air Plants” (also called Tillandsias) and compared them to pineapple sage plants that were rooted in water. Air plants take their nutrients right out of the air!

The students also planted garlic, beets and carrots. While discussing the different parts of the beet plant and which parts are edible, the students in Mrs. Ripley’s class made the connection to a test they had taken the day before in their Science class covering the parts of a plant. It was impressive to see all the hands in the air when students were asked if they’d ever tried a beet before!

A big THANK YOU to the parent volunteers this morning! Thank you for spending part of your day with the students. It’s always great to see you!

We Plant. We Sow. We Learn. We Grow!

Garden Workday

Calling All Phoebe Garden Enthusiasts! 
Saturday 8/23, 8am – 12pm. 
Bring tools and water and help the Garden Team (Mr. Burkhouse, Hillary Johnson, Holly Whitman) get the gardens spruced up for Fall!!!

No experience necessary – just come out, get dirty, meet new people, and have fun!