Archive for April, 2017

Hello Spring

Greetings Gardeners,

Spring has finally arrived, and after some heavy winds and tremendous down pours, we are finally back to garden class!  Our first couple classes were held indoors upon our return from winter break, but that’s just what us gardeners have to do while we wait for our weather to perk up.  We took this time indoors as an opportunity to thumb through seed catalogs, to plan our perfect garden.

Gardeners stay busy during winter months by ogling over seed catalogs, ordering new vegetables and fruits to plant when the time is right for next growing season.  In small groups we flipped through pages and pages of plant varieties, some grown for their exceptional flavor profile, others grown for their unique shape and size, and many other reasons.  We learned how to navigate a seed catalog, and then how to decipher what varieties best suit our needs based off the many factors listed in each plant’s profile passage.


Learning flower anatomy indoors.


The parts of a flower.

In addition to picking out seeds in the catalog, Rowan and Jessica brought in some seed pods from their home gardens and the Beacon Hill Food Forest for us to practice seed saving techniques. Dissecting bean pods and pulling swiss chard seeds from it’s stalk we collected enough for every student to save their own seed.  Packaging the seeds in little envelopes we documented all the important information we needed to save them for future use.

Name of the seed
Optimal growing conditions
When to plant
Our name
Where it was harvested


Starting some seeds indoors we had a high germination rate of kale, beans, poppies, lettuce, and a few other veggies.  We will be transplanting these outdoors very soon, as they are growing vigorously indoors!


Caring for our indoor starts!

Finally braving the weather of sideways rain and chilly winds, we went out to the garden bundled up at the end of class to see how our garden faired the winter.  The overwintered crops did just wonderful!  Sampling kale and arugula we learned that in our temperate Seattle winter weather, some plants live on through frosts and even snow.

Looking forward to a productive and educational spring while enjoying the warm sunshine and light showers!  Thank you Rowan the Garden Educator, Jessica the Garden Intern, and of course the determined 3rd grade gardeners!

Happy spring and thank you for the support,

Reid Ellingsen
Garden Intern
Cascadia Elementary School Garden

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Goodbye Fall

Greetings Gardeners,

What a busy and exciting fall we had!  Having put our little school garden to bed, tucking in our kale, lettuce, carrots, and arugula under reemay, we are back at it and waking up the garden.

First though a little update on our final lessons before winter break.  We discussed the changes that come with fall; observing the change of colors, feeling the temperature begin to drop, and noticing people become less frequent outdoors.  The students shared some of their favorite things about fall; playing in piles of raked leaves, carving pumpkins, and eating warm tasty meals with their family.


Colorful mandala of fall leaves.

What happens to the leaves of deciduous trees?  We dove into pigmentation, specifically of chlorophyll and it’s purpose.  We even talked about other pigments like yellow (carotenoids), orange (beta carotene), and red (lycopene).  The cycle of nutrients and energy is important in both our annual and perennial gardens and is apparent through these changing colors.  These indicator colors give us insight into the nutritional value of our fruits and vegetables.


Students hard at work, raking leaves to mulch our garden beds.

Finally we wrapped up by completing our end of the season garden tasks.  Raking leaves to mulch our garden beds, seeding fava beans and winter rye as a cover crop till spring, and of course ending on a song!


Singing the Garden Song with Rowan on the Ukulele, and Duncan on the guitar.

The Garden Song

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna help this garden grow
All you need is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
Till the rains come tumbling down.

Pulling weeds, picking stones
We are made of dreams and bones
Gotta need to grow my own
For the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way through nature’s chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music of the land.


Stay tuned for more frequent garden updates.  There are some exciting activities coming up this spring!  Thank you Rowan our garden educator, Jessica and Duncan the garden interns, and of course our little gardeners for all the hard work!  Farewell and good luck to Duncan, who is leaving our garden program.  We will miss you!


Thank you for supporting this program,

Reid Ellingsen
Garden Intern
Cascadia Elementary School Garden

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