May 2014 Newsletter

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Grants

Aetna Foundation due Jun. 5

Maine Agriculture in the Classroom due Jun. 13

Networking

How do you get volunteers involved in the garden?  Are they parents, farmers, local business owners, master gardeners, garden club members?  How has your experience been in managing volunteers?  Do you have any concerns, or advice for other schools?  Emailryan.fahey@maine.gov.

Facebook

Like us on Facebook and share your ideas and questions with other school gardens!

Looking Forward to June

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Have you planted your garden yet?  How has everything held up with the chilly nights we've had in the past week?  We shouldn't have to worry about that much longer, but it brings to mind a tip - Use row cover!  Not only will row cover provide a buffer against chilly temperatures, the fabric provides a physical barrier between pests and your precious crops.  Make sure to set up the floating row cover as soon as you plant.  Otherwise, you will just trap the pests inside with your crops.  Simply bend  lengths of 1/2" electrical conduit into hoops, push them into the soil, lay the fabric over the hoops, and bury the edges of the fabric with soil.  For more detailed instructions, check out the videos on Johnny's Selected Seedswebsite.

I've found it makes a world of difference in protecting brassicas (the family of plants including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) from flea beetle damage and curcubits (melons, squashes, pumpkins) from cucumber beetles and squash bugs.  I leave the fabric in place until the plants fill out and are pushing against the fabric.  They should then be large enough to withstand typical pest damage.  

In addition to pests, you can also look forward to dealing with weeds in June!  At a recent St. Croix District garden club meeting, members were raving about the Maine Miracle Finger Hoe.  Have any of you tried it?  

On a brighter note, June also comes with strawberries!  Teach ME Food And Farms has lesson plans that involve strawberries, if you are lucky enough to have some before school wraps up (that's what you are really looking forward to, isn't it?).  If you are growing strawberries in the garden, be sure to read up on this Cooperative Extension publication on growing strawberries and check out thisvideo on making strawberry jam.

School Visit: Falmouth

IMG 20140506 121804986The elementary, middle and high schools in Falmouth share a campus and each have a school garden.  The schools are in the process of hiring a shared garden coordinator.  Check out our sample garden coordinator job descriptions and please be in touch if your school is headed in this direction as well.  In the meantime, each garden is managed by a "Garden Champion" in each school.  

Food from the gardens is used in the cafeteria whenever possible.  They have also established a relationship with Garbage to Gardens, a company that picks up food scraps to be composted and provides the school garden with compost.  The school has been able to eliminate one of their dumpsters as a result.  

The gardens at each school have different themes and purposes, but a significant portion of all plants are periennial, a common trait that I don't often see in school gardens.  The high school has an orchard of apples, pears and peaches.  Beds of rhubarb, high bush blueberries, grapes, and other perennials are planted in the alleys between trees.  The perimeter of the orchard is planted with forsythia and Project BudBurst lilacs.

School Garden Open House

We would like to invite you to participate in the 4th annual School Garden Open House!

Saturday, September 27th, 2014.

Plan now to hold an Open House event at your school garden, in conjunction with Maine Harvest Lunch week.

Open your garden to the public, provide tours, have fun and educational activities.

Generate support for your garden program among parents and the community.

Help your students show pride in their hard work.

Recruit new volunteers and supporters for your garden.

Help to publicize school gardens in Maine!

Click here for info on planning your event; emailinfo@msgn.org with questions.