I realize I blog a lot about gardening. In fact, I realize that most of you probably think I’m crazy. What sane person gets overly excited about a compost bin or a worm farm? Then again, what sane person chooses to spend two years peeing in a hole and bathing in a bucket?
That’s beside the point though. I haven’t blogged too much about the state of the garden in the past few weeks, so it’s update time. I’ve been busy writing permaculture curriculum, giving computer lessons, and preparing our learners for the finals, so I haven’t blogged as often as I normally do. Finals, you say? What finals? Check out my post about our school being named as a national finalist in the garden competition here!
Over the past few weeks, our garden has outgrown itself. Only about 25% of the garden area had been cleared and used in recent years, and we finally filled all of that up with beautiful beds. So our garden workers cleared off another 25% last week. I was a little crushed when I saw they had burnt it, as the grasses could have been used in compost. Apparently the several times I had mentioned using it as compost wasn’t enough, but it’s just a small problem. Grass will grow fast here (as it is now Spring), so we’ll get enough compost materials soon enough. I was thoroughly excited to see the new space, just waiting to be turned into trench beds.
Saturday marked the official start of South African spring , which means Sunday started the summer. Just kidding, but not really. The week before last it hit 93F, so the hot weather is upon us, even if it is cool at night. Soon the rains will come, and hopefully more than last year. With the warmer weather, our garden has exploded in growth! Onion stalks are knee high, the winter spinach is overcrowding the beds, and the beetroot is standing tall. I cannot believe how big the plants are getting. Tomorrrow we are harvesting, so I’ll be eating spinach left and right all week. I’m hoping to score some beetroot as well, to try a chocolate-beetroot cake recipe I found.
Our learners are becoming more involved in the garden, as are the teachers. They now understand what can be recycled into mulch or compost, and are always excited to get in the garden and work. We’ve had several involved in making props and displays for the finals in October, and the three learners who will be going to the finals have been diligently practicing their drama, poetry, song, and dance. Our presentation will be pretty sweet, and the kids can be proud of it!
I think the concept of intercropping has finally stuck in the minds of our garden workers. Throughout the winter, getting them to do it and understand why it was important was a little difficult, but I think they have it down perfectly now.
What are our future plans?
1. Practice, practice, practice, for the finals.
Our presentation is already pretty good, but we have a lot of work to do to make it finals ready. October 1st, we will be ready!
2. Hold a workshop for some area schools.
My counterpart came up to me and said we needed to hold another workshop. Some area schools are asking for our help with their gardens. Just like that, our school has become a leader in the cluster. I am so proud of the hard work everyone has put in, and am elated that other schools are seeking our support.
3. Visit the homes of learners to see if they have home gardens.
My counterpart also told me she wants to train the parents of the Grade R learners, so they can have a good garden at home. Then we’ll spend some time visiting homes to see how the gardens are doing, and if we can offer help. It’s been hard for me to integrate and do things with the community because of the language barrier, so I am really happy to see that the school garden can inspire change in the community.
4. Have all grades teaching permaculture practices in the classroom.
I’ve been cooperating with the teachers, finding out what sort of garden-related lessons they want, and am now writing curriculum for the garden. I will be having one lesson in ever y learning area for each grade by the New Year. It’s a big undertaking, but one that my school wants!
5. Start a wormery!
I got worms! Last weekend I was given some Red Wriggler earthworms by some friends, and currently have the sitting in a newly made worm farm at my house. I’ll be collecting tires over the next week or so to build a tire wormery at school. Then I’ll transfer most of the worms to the school, but some will stay with me at home, to eat my organic waste and make yummy compost for my window garden.
6. Keep growing our garden.
Our garden will keep getting bigger and better!