Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seed to Table Program- Plant Cultivation Workshop

On Tuesday, January 17th, several members of the garden committee headed downtown for a workshop on Seed Starting given by the Slow Food Alliance.

Please Note- For anyone who is interested, their next workshop is scheduled for February 12 at Rabbit Shadow Farm and covers techniques for Plant Propagation.

They did give us loads of helpful information, but I think that the real reason we made the drive was for the FREE seeds they were giving away.

Everything was organized into boxes by plant family.

 And each of us left with several handfuls (or more) to bring back to the school's garden.

They even had flower seeds... the better to entice happy little pollinators into our garden with.

Gigia Kolouch and Andrew Nowak also created some super helpful packets, full of recipes, information on planting and a bunch of activity guides.

Activity Guide: Sensory Education (SFD- Seed-to-Table School Food Program)
Activity Guide: Plant Cultivation (SFD- Seed-to-Table School Food Program)
Project Manual
Food Processing

Stay tuned for more info on when we'll be getting some of these seeds growing.  Because nothing gets you more excited for Spring than starting seeds in the cold of Winter.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sheet Composting- a description

Sheet composting is a no-till method of gardening that smothers weeds, mulches the growing area, retains healthy soil structure and fertilizes all in one go.  Some people refer to it as Lasagna Gardening because it is built like a giant lasagna, one layer at a time.

Sheet composting in my own backyard.  Photo courtesy of my sister.

Essentially, you lay down thick layers of organic materials and let Mama Nature (worms, insects and beneficial soil microbes and fungi) do all the work of composting.

No turning.  No hauling the finished compost.

It simply sits in place and feeds the soil, which in turn feeds the plants.  Worms that are already present in the soil are drawn to the area and function like tiny, but effective, rototillers, mixing in the compost.  As they eat their way through the soil, they inoculate it with the beneficial microbes that live in their digestive system.  These microbes help the soil hold together, creating a necessary soil characteristic known as tilth.  Worm movement also opens up little channels through which water and oxygen can move.  This system provides lots of food for the worms, so their numbers increase rapidly.

In a way, you can think of gardening as worm farming.  The more worms, the healthier the soil.  And the healthier the soil, the stronger the plants.