>Kids and Dirt: Tell Me More!


Anyone who knows me or follows my blogs knows I am into kids and dirt.  I love having my kids garden with me and I love introducing other kids to gardening.  I am currently involved in the vegetable and herb garden at my daughter’s preschool and with the new garden at my son’s elementary school.  But alsong with the joy of teaching kids to garden comes a myriad of challenges:  how to fit the garden into the curriculum, how to excite teachers about the garden, how to get school and district support, funding, and so on.. 
If you’re interested in school gardening and anywhere near Austin, check out this upcoming opportunity.  It’s called the Get Growing Keep Going Conference.  Not expensive and perfect for teachers, administration and parent/school volunteers to learn the latest information about gardening in schools.
Sat, Feb 6, 2010, 8 am- 4pm
Garza Independence High School (1600 Chicon, Austin TX 78702).    
7 CEU for those needing them
Registration fee of $25

The purpose of the conference is to give administrators, teachers and parent representatives the tools to integrate gardens, nature areas and green programs into the school environment which includes topics on rainwater harvesting, composting, vegetable gardening, plant propagation, native habitats, native plants, etc. 
The key speakers for the conference are Kevin Coyle, VP of Education at National Wildlife Federation, and Danna Keyburn, Science Educator at Redeemer Lutheran School. The conference includes speakers, hands-on sessions and exhibitors from organization such as Travis County Master Gardeners, Sustainable Food Center, Green Corn Project, Austin Discovery School, LBJ Wildflower Center, National Wildlife Federation, and Keep Austin Beautiful.

I’ll certainly be there and I hope you will to.  More info and registration

>Check it out!

>Usually, I’m shouting this while posting a picture.  But today I want you to look on the right hand side of my blog…that’s right, go ahead.  I’ll wait. 

Do you see it?  “Upcoming Austin Gardening Seminars”.  I have posted upcoming seminars presented by the Travis County Master Gardeners.  These seminars are all free and open to the public.  Some great stuff coming up and I hope to see  some of you there (come say hi if you see me or Vicki.  We’ll both be wearing nametags helping out at these events.).

I’ll keep updating them as info becomes finalized or you can subscribe to the Central Texas Horticulture blog and get email updates when I’ve posted an upcoming event.  

>Not so prickly purple

>Prickly Pears are so beautiful when they have their fruits growing out. Especially when everything seems so drab right now and you stumble across this beautiful purple shade. I only like to grow the spineless prickly pear, with the kids so young. I have not done any cooking myself with the PP fruit, but I can remember the first time I discovered that you did, when I had a prickly pear margarita in San Antonio. Yum! Now THAT is a good introduction to an ingredient.

Luckily, my spineless PPs did not have any freeze damage. I do have a Cow’s Tongue PP that is now laying flat on the ground, with I suspect most of it completely damaged. I am hoping the base will come back and start growth again. I’ll prune it once I know frost danger is passed to allow the base to gain whatever protection it can from the previously damaged portion.

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>Peeking out

>Just poking around today after getting 2.5 inches of rain the past few days. Garden has had a nice soaking and I thought I would check on my radishes. They are just poking their “shoulders” out above the dirt and really plumping up. Should make a good appetizer snack one of these evenings.

Radishes are a great crop to grow, especially to show kids- because they are fast growing and put out their greens quickly so the kids can see the growth. And its fun to show them that not all veggies grow above ground, but sometimes have surprises lying below as well.

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Things happening below the cold ground…

Just because we have some recent cold weather doesn’t mean our plants in the Titan Garden are at a standstill.  Below the cold ground, seeds and bulbs are busy storing energy to send up spring foliage.  And some of the seeds have already started.  In the picture, you can see the sweet pea seeds planted by the kindergarten classes just emerging from the ground. 

Sweet peas bloom best before the heat of summer comes on so many gardeners plant them in our mild winters and give them a head start.  We have them covered to protect them from this unusual arctic blast of cold weather and we hope they’ll continue growing strong.  Once they get tall anough, we’ll put in a trellis for them to climb, as sweet peas are a climbing vine. 

First graders add color to their gardening bed

The first grade planted their garden on December 9th. It was a VERY cold day but each class came out and took turns preparing the dirt and planting several plants. They planted purple pansies, red cyclamen, and alyssum. In addition, they planted herbs – rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender. They added some bulbs to the bed to emerge in the spring and give everyone a wonderful surprise.  Great job, first graders.  We’re excited to see your plants grow!