Coffee grounds, seeds, stakes and tiny beginnings

In order to enrich the soil, we dumped coffee grinds into our new rose garden.  Every time I go to Starbucks I ask for coffee grounds for the gardens.  Since this is a new garden, it needs a great deal of amendments.  Last year, the city gave us compost which we will receive again this April.  When we planted the roses last week we finally saw some worms living in the soil.  Little by little we are bringing the soil back to life — Its such a rewarding endeavor.

Inside under the grow lights we planted: eggplant, 9 different types of tomatoes and several different types of peppers.

We also started growing some zinnias and snapdragons for our cutting garden.

We also staked the emerging pea plants.

And look at the pretty primula!

We welcomed back all the perennials.  These will become big, fragrant, pink peonies before we know it!

Already, the fruit garden looks great. The raspberries have doubled in size and are sending up plenty of new shoots. The rhubarb which looked dead last week has lots of new growth in just one week.

The bulb garden is in full glory now too.  It is being taken over by the strawberries which is rather appealing.  The bulbs’ leaves will wither out as the strawberries come into bloom.  So appealing, so rewarding, such tiny beginnings.  We just have to take the time to stop and appreciate the baby steps for the new beginnings.  The fresh starts.  Kind of like the students, give them food, fresh air, energy, and they will emerge healthy and ready to do their job.  The students actually stayed an hour over time today because they were so eager to clear the woods surrounding the garden.  They heard me say we needed more light.  They were so proud of the work they did.  I must say though give 6 strong men some saws and loppers and they can really do some work in a morning!


Roses and Parsley

This week we planted roses and parsley.  We created a new garden last year for the tomatoes and in order to rotate the tomatoes and make room for a formal rose garden we took over the new spot.  We transplanted 2 Julila Child roses and planted two new roses , Senior Prom and Maria Stern.   We have some donated boxwood as well.  When the boxwood comes we plan to rim our diamond shaped rose garden.   It doesn’t look like much yet, but keep your eyes on it over the coming months.

We now have a fruit garden, an herb garden, a bulb garden, a rose garden, a perennial garden and several annual vegetable gardens.

We also planted 6 parsley plants as an edge around some stepping stones near the herb garden.  Parsley is a great plant, keeps coming up, edible and loaded with vitamin C.

Each year I save sticks from other jobs.  We will stake our peas with these sticks when the sprouting seeds emerge next week.  I learned this trick at Monticello.

This is ornamental grass clippings we are repurposing as a mulch for the garden.

I love teaching the men how to recycle.

Potatoes, onions and peas!

Today we started the spring garden.  It was in the low 50s, the soil was workable and lovely.  The men brought out the compost from the prison kitchen, a bucket of stinky onions peels.  What a great lesson for the men, though, because after they dumped the onions in the compost we then planted 100 seed onions, full circle gardening at its best. We also planted potatoes.  The men cut them, each piece having at least two eyes to sprout.  We planted peas, kale, carrots and cabbage, all crops that can tolerate this cool but warming weather.  We added additional stakes to our already expanding raspberries, raked the strawberries, hoed young upstart weeds, and cut back the ornamental grasses. The cut grasses were saved to use as a mulch soon.  They installed supports for the blueberries and peonies and cages to protect the rhubarb.

In the mail today we received free Heirloom seeds including onions, eggplant, tomatos, coleus, and squash from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and   They are hosting an heirloom seed initiative to gather useful growth data.  It will be a great teaching lesson for the men to grow and record the success of the seeds.

Cut Out for Learning

Today we took scraps of paper, gluestick and scissors and the men cut out paper to demonstrate the parts of a flower.  I then went around the room and they proudly and confidently pointed to the petals, sepal, ovules, stigma, piston, pollen, and stamen.

This guy did not want to do the project, moaned and groaned and then afterwards asked if he could take a bunch of paper to do more in his cell later! HA!  He also exclaimed “I didn’t know flowers had ovaries?”  You learn something every day.

At first I saw this upside down and thought this guy was goofing around, but then upon looking at it right side up I realized how astute he was using polka dots for ovules and arrows for the pollen!  He appreciated my notice!

This student did not work on the project for the longest time and I decided not to bug him about participating.  I always have to gage my responses to the men, sometimes I insist they participate, others I just let them be.  He seemed sad and depressed so I just let him sit.  Then I gently asked him later “what’s up?” and he said he was just waiting for the scissors.  He too asked to haul back a bunch of papers to his room so he could make a card for his daughter.

With smiles they all begged me to make copies for them as well as to keep it a secret that they had done such a “girly” project.

Just wait until I make them tie bouquets come summer!

Truck Farm

Truck FarmThis week we watched TRUCK FARM.  Its a cool DVD made by the same man that created KING CORN.  Ian Cheney takes his old truck and turns the back into an urban garden and drives all around demonstrating its fruitfulness and introducing us to all kinds of unique urban gardens, mostly rooftop.  Its filled with wacky music, wonderful footage and groovy cut out graphics.  Its worth watching if you get the chance.  The men loved it and sang along. It was a “fun” as well as an inspiring video.  Ian is from Boston.   I am going to try to see if I can get him to come talk to the men.