Sustainability at Woodward Academy: Gardening at the Middle School

My Gardening Experience by Mia Carson

I enjoyed getting a break from the classroom. It was fun to go outside and plant and joke around with my classmates instead of sitting in a classroom taking notes. After I planted the Brussels sprouts, I had a variety of choices of seeds to plant. I chose microgreens and now they are growing and blossoming in the garden. The gardening experience was not only a great break from the classroom but also a great way to help teach responsibility to my classmates and me. Our teacher is not responsible for our plants, so we have to go outside and water them and take care of them.During our unit on living things, my class paused to do a bit of gardening. We planted lettuce, microgreens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and some other veggies. First, my class got to take baby plants that were not fully grown and put them in a decomposable pot. We watered them and named them. Mine was Jerry the Berry. (It is not really a berry plant.) For a few days, we kept them in the classroom and nurtured them. It was our responsibility to make sure that our plants weren't too dried out. After about a week, we took them outside and planted them in the Woodward Academy Middle School Garden. If you had one type of plant, you had to pull weeds, fluff the soil, put the plant and its pot in the hole and then water it. For my type of plant, Brussels sprouts, you had to put rocks on the bottom of a bigger pot first. Then you had to put in the soil and your plant and finally water it.

Unfortunately, there are insects that like to snack on our plants. Caterpillars were starting to eat our plant leaves and something needed to be done. One of our assignments for class was to decide whether we wanted to kill the caterpillars with pesticides or move them to a different location. Most of the class said move them, but there always will be more no matter what. Our solution to the caterpillar problem was somewhat cruel but effective. We placed a head of lettuce in the middle of each flower bed. The caterpillars swarmed over the head of lettuce. Then we chucked the heads of lettuce in the trash. I know whoever is reading this might think that this is cruel, but do you have a better solution to this problem that will get rid of pretty much all the caterpillars? Altogether my gardening experience was a lot of fun.

Plant Time! by Taneesha Jhanjee

Taneesha Jhanjee gardening - Woodward Academy - Sustainability

I love gardening! When I was in Minnesota, I used to plant a lot. I loved to plant seeds in our garden. In kindergarten, I even decorated a pot for my favorite plant.

In our class, we started by getting our plants. We were assigned to groups of six people. I found this nice because we could communicate with other people. Our groups had three choices: kale, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts. All of the groups chose kale except ours. We chose asparagus.

For a few days, we just watered the plants and checked if they were too dry or too wet. I loved using the moisture stick, which was the tool we used to check if the water was too wet (yellow), too dry (red), or perfect (green). As plants got too dry, they started dying, and when plants got too wet, mold started to form on them.

After the days of just watering them, we planted them. Friday, October 25, was muddy and wet, so we got a little dirty. We each got one shovel and one bucket. After that, we filled the bucket with two inches of rocks. Next we filled the bucket with dirt from a dirt pile and put a hole just the size for our plants. I saw some worms in the dirt, and I hate worms. I was trying to take them out with my shovel when the teacher said that they were good for my plant. Dr. Davis said that the plant gets fertilized from the worms. Lastly, we put our buckets somewhere we thought they would grow the most. I put mine in the wall corner.

In the end, I would say that this was a 5 out of 5 star rating. I loved the planting and getting dirty and had lots of fun.

In September, the students transferred immature plants (Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and kale) to small, biodegradable pots. When the plants matured, they transferred them to areas around the Middle School. They also planted lettuce in the MS raised garden beds. Earlier this month, the students harvested their lettuce, kale, spinach, and microgreens, continuing their work to assess the effect of variables on plant growth . . . and to enjoy salads they grew themselves!

(Thanks to Mr. Robert Willsey for contributing his gardening expertise to help make the project successful!)

View a gallery of more photos from the project.

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