October 2015 Newsletter

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School Garden Grown at Common Ground Fair

12038783 887124451368861 4079049431670761720 oWe would like to give recognition to the 10 schools who collectively submitted more than 120 items (!!!) to the Common Ground Fair Exhibition.

Ellsworth Elementary and Middle School

Troy Howard Middle School, Belfast

Lots to Gardens, Lewiston

Sedgwick Elementary School

Bowdoinham Community School

Orono Gardening and Cooking Club, Madison

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Brooklin Jr. Youth Corps, Brooklin School

Walker Memorial School, Liberty

Medomak Valley High School, Waldoboro

Ridge View Community School Garden Club, Dexter

Some of the entries were: onions, garlic, dried beans, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, beets, flowers, potted herbs, cucumbers, green beans, cabbage, and leeks.

Maine Farm to School Conference

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MSGN Annual Meeting

Please join the board of the Maine School Garden Network at St. Mary's Nutrition Center for our annual meeting. This is your chance to contribute feedback and make suggestions for our work in the upcoming year. Tell us about your program, learn about the Lots To Gardens program at St. Mary's Nutrition Center, enjoy a meal catered by the youth participants, and join the conversation! RSVP HERE.

We would also like to invite you to meet with us at Whiting Farm in Auburn prior to the meeting for a tour of their educational gardens and greenhouse. It is a short (~3mi) distance from St. Mary's and will be held from 3:00-4:00pm.

October in the Garden

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It’s early Fall and time to be thinking about harvesting the remainder of crops growing in your school, daycare or community garden and cleaning up your gardens. We hope you will consider using season extension tools and even plant a few things!

Harvest your pumpkins, winter squash, carrots, kale, Swiss Card, lettuces and other greens, and Brussel sprouts (the last crop tastes better after a frost). Consider doing lessons with your students that involve gardening. For example, have students estimate the weight of pumpkins you’ve harvested and then weigh them, possibly making it into a contest with the student who comes closest, winning the pumpkin. Do a cooking project making muffins, sweet bread or soup and teach measuring skills. Roast pumpkin seeds and let the kids have them for a snack or add to other nuts and dried fruit to make trail mix.

If you have a green or hoop house, order your cold hardy seeds and plant them by the middle of the month.

Start your fall garden clean-up by removing plant waste and composting. Do a lesson on composting: what is it, how does it happen, who are the decomposers, what can and shouldn’t go in a compost bin, etc. Include in your lesson that composting reduces waste in landfills as well as benefitting gardens and potted plants. If you’ve been recording the amount of food harvested, let students add up how many pounds of tomatoes, potatoes, etc. were harvested and share your results with the food service, administrators, etc. It’s great PR for your gardening program.

Cut up vegetation to be composted to encourage faster decomposition Remember that you can add food waste, in addition to leaves, grass clippings, and garden plants. If your school doesn’t compost breakfast and or lunch food waste, think about a pilot composting project with one or two classes.

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What can you plant in October? Garlic! Plant garlic in early to mid October, depending on where you live. Learn how to grow garlic here. You can also plant spring flower bulbs which are so welcome in the spring after a long winter with little color. Bulbs are also a great fit for school gardens that struggle with summer care. Select crocuses, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, alliums and many others for spring blooming. Many perennials can be divided in the fall. One that should be divided in spring however is sedum, which is currently in bloom. Check before dividing. Also, many garden centers have great sales in the fall so you may be able to buy a nice bush, shrub, tree or perennial at a bargain price.

Finally, consider extending your garden by using garden fabric, known as row covers, to protect crops from frost damage down to around 28 degrees. These can be used in raised beds, in-ground gardens and inside a hoop or greenhouse or outside. Enjoy fall in your garden.