Archive for September, 2012

If you visited our school during the summer, you would have been amazed at the size of the three piles of arborist chips, nearly 50 cubic yards, that were donated over the summer, and spread flat over cardboard by our enthusiastic volunteers. The cardboard effectively suppresses weeds and grasses from growing into the garden. It will slowly decompose so we’ll add more chips on the paths each year, and over time build up a lovely spongy layer like a forest understory.

But why did we leave big piles in the Native Garden section? We’re building a large Hugelkultur. This permaculture method improves soil tilth by hilling up compost and soil over woody material. As the whole pile decomposes slowly, spaces open up between the materials which will hold water like a sponge. This will reduce our requirement for watering the native garden after the first year or two once the large woody shrubs are established. I’m sure you’ve noticed how dry this area is!

One year old hugelkultur diagram

One year old hugelkultur diagram from http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/

Good compost is decaying plant matter with a balanced amount of carbon and nitrogen, approximately C25:N35.  Think of carbon as the fuel and nitrogen as one of the building blocks for microbial growth.  Things with a lot of carbon are typically woody and decay slowly.  Our layer of woody chips from a variety of locally trimmed trees has very high amounts of carbon. We’ll need to add a lot of material that is high in nitrogen, such as goat or chicken manure, and coffee grounds to balance that.

Starbucks Grounds for your Garden

Starbucks Grounds for your Garden – photo by NancyCreative

You can help us by collecting coffee grounds and dumping them on the piles in the Native Garden … no need to ask us permission. Just collect and dump!

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Mother Nature smiled upon us Saturday with a little bit of afternoon sunshine. But that bit of sun was gravy compared with the more than 40 volunteers who turned out to lend muscles, humor, engineering and art skills to our school garden work party. You all blew us away!

A crew of students and their parental supervisors made short work of our enormous wood chip pile. Volunteers dismantled cardboard boxes to lay under the chips (the better to smother grass with, my dear!). Others shoveled, pushed wheelbarrows, raked and swept. It was a well-oiled machine.

The build-crew assembled our new garden beds, filled them with soil and installed one set of top rails (the other was missing pieces…watch for it to appear soon!). The top rails will allow small bums to have a place to sit while working in the garden beds, or while listening to garden educators!

The crafters decorated garden pails, painted lovely stones and created peace flags to beautiful our garden space. They are flying now. Check them out! In fact, check out the whole space the next time you are on campus. It’s at the south entrance by the blue boulder.

Thanks to everyone who turned out! We completed our task list in a much shorter time than we had anticipated. You rock! Thanks especially to Ms. Geoghagan for opening and closing up the parking lot for us (on her day off!), to Lisa Domke for heading up the crafts, to Dave Sielaff and Kevin Boske for leading the build-crew and to Cavalry Fellowship for lending us some muscle! And, of course, thanks to Katherine Selk and Kate Brown for bringing coffee, brownies and donuts!

Additional thanks to Cedar Grove for the fabulous soil donation and to Renaissance Tree Care and TreeCycle for the wood chips. We appreciate your support of our school!

Check out pictures from the day here!

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The dirt is here!

Can you tell I’m getting excited?

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Hello Families,

Future home of the school gardenWe are in the last stages of getting our school garden built and running and we need your help! Please consider supporting the garden in one (or more!) of the following ways:

Work party-related needs:
1.       Come to our work party on Saturday, September 22nd from 1-4 pm. Sign-ups available here!

2.       Help us plan and execute kid-friendly crafts for the afore-mentioned work party. We could really use a volunteer to lead this effort! Please email KimberlyChristensen@live.com if you are interested!

3.       Lend us your wheelbarrow for the garden work party! It would be super if 6 families could transport their wheelbarrows to school and home again for the work party. Please RSVP your wheelbarrow use! KimberlyChristensen@live.com

General garden needs:
1.       Volunteer in the garden on a regular basis, either helping teachers as they take their classes out for garden time. Please email KimberlyChristensen@live.com if you are interested!

2.       Volunteer regularly to help with weeding and maintenance needs (can be before or after school). Please email KimberlyChristensen@live.com if you are interested!

3.       Donate items needed to complete our garden and support teacher’s curriculum needs. Our wish list is detailed in the post below.

Many thanks from your garden committee,

Grace, Julie, Kimberly and Amy

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We’re so excited to get started on our garden.  If you would like to contribute to our garden, we do have a wishlist of items that would help get our garden off to a good start.  Used items are perfectly fine!  Please email Grace at [methylgrace at yahoo dot com], or sign up online or even comment here on this post if you have something you would like to donate. We’ve posted some items on our Amazon Wish List … no need to purchase from there; it’s just a convenient way of showing you what we’re thinking of.  Thank you so much!

Repurposed stuff:

  • Buckets with handles (for carrying tools and weeding, like kitty-litter or laundry detergent types) – DONE!
  • Coffee grounds (check your local coffee shop!) – Ongoing – Please dump on the native garden section
  • Burlap bags (another excuse to check your favorite coffee shop!)


  • Garden gloves (10 pairs adult)
  • Garden gloves (30 pairs children)
  • Watering cans (any size – think durable and not too heavy)
  • Plant labels/markers (the reusable kind that you can label with a new plant name)
    • Thank you for the donations so far! We always need more!

Pots and Seed Starting

  • Grow light kits
  • Heat mats
  • Seedling trays [ Donated, Thanks Lisa!  Can always use more!]
  • Large pots (ceramic or half wine cask-type planters)

Books (Again, used is just fine!)

  • Rodale’s Organic Gardening Encyclopedia [ Donated, Thanks Kimberly! A]
  • Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide – [Donated, thanks Geoff!]
  • Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots, Sharon Lovejoy [Donated, thanks Lisa! ]
  • How to Grow a School Garden, Bucklin-Sporer and Pringle [Donated, thanks Lisa!]
  • Your Farm in the City, Lisa Taylor [ Donated, Thanks Kimberly! A]
  • How to Grow More Vegetables, John Jeavons
  • Smart by Nature, Michael Stone
  • Four Season Harvest, Eliot Coleman
  • Starter Vegetable Gardens, Barbara Pleasant
  • Square Foot Gardening, Mel Bartholomew[Donated, thanks Grace]
  • Healthy Foods From Healthy Soils, Patten and Lyons [ Donated, Thanks Kimberly A]
  • Omnivore’s Dilemma, Young Reader’s Edition, Michael Pollan (library binding if possible) [ Thanks Lisa!]
  • French Fries and the Food System, Sarah Coblyn
  • Good Food Revolution, Will Allen
  • Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook, Kujawski and Kujawski [donated, Grace H]

Fall seeds and plants (We will ask for spring seeds and starts in the spring!)

  • Any leafy greens
    • Arugula
    • Carrots
    • Kale
    • Radishes
  • Radishes [ Three packages donated, Geoff]
  • Berry plants
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic   [Two heads Music donated, Grace H]
  • Onions [Donated, Thanks Kathryn]
  • Any native plants

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