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Archive for the ‘Edibles’ Category

October Open House

It started out as a cold and foggy morning, but by lunch time, the sun was warm and pleasant.  At our fall Open House today, we were so pleased to have 8 classes show up.  Each class painted a classroom sign for their garden bed, planted fall vegetable crops and two kinds of cover crops (fava beans and red clover), and started our Field Guide project.

working

There was a lot of competition to find the most number of unique mushroom varieties!

Mushroom sighting!

Mushroom sighting!

We found a lot of critters, including spider webs, huge earthworms, and slimy slugs:

Critter Collage

And, remember these?

Potato Life Cycle

Potato Life Cycle

Last spring, the 3rd graders planted several kinds of potatoes including our local Makah Ozettes. Last month at our September Open House, we harvested a big pot full of potatoes. I picked some leeks from my garden and made potato-leek soup:

Potato Varieties

Potato Varieties

The soup was a big hit with all the kids, who begged for seconds. We heard a lot of “Wow, this is yummy!” Some of them even requested the recipe for this delicious dairy-free soup. So, if you want to make this at home:

Potato Leek Soup

  1. Dig up, wash (scrub) all of your potatoes, and trim off any green parts or tough ‘eyes’.  If using Makah Ozette potatoes, don’t bother to peel them.  Cut them into 1″ pieces or chunks.
  2. Pull 4 leeks from your garden, trim the roots, discard most of the green tops. Slice in half lengthwise, and wash the leeks well.  Cut into thin rounds.
  3. Saute leeks in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (dairy free!) or butter (yum!) until soft.  You can add garlic and onions, too.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon thyme, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, and stir for about 30 sec.
  5. Fill up the pot with water, add 2 bay leaves, 2 celery stalks cut in half, and all of your potatoes.
  6. Boil until potatoes are soft.
  7. Remove the bay leaves and celery.
  8. Use your immersion blender to make a puree.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, wait until soup cools(!) before blending in a regular blender. [Trust me, you can’t clean soup off the ceiling.]
  9. Season with salt and pepper until it tastes good.
  10. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve on a cold and foggy morning, after digging in the dirt.

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Thanks to the wonderful watering crew of Garden Stewards, our garden is growing throughout the summer.  There have been a few hitches with the gate being locked sometimes, but a few phone calls found Sean, our school district Self Help Projects Coordinator, and all is well.

The 3-Sisters bed already has corn ‘knee-high by the 4th of July’ and the squash is growing nicely.  The beans look a little anemic, though.  While there are bean pods, the vines are pretty stunted.  I added a few more boards to the potato tower and filled it up with more dirt.  And, everything got a good soaking.

corn, beans, squash

corn, beans, squash

Potato Tower

Potato Tower

Of particular interest was the dog-vomit slime mold that has colonized our wood chips.  Fuligo septica can be bright yellow, but ours is a dusky tan.  It’s harmless (except to asthmatics when the spores are released) and fun to poke.

Dog Vomit Slime Mold

Dog Vomit Slime Mold

Here’s a fun video of spore release when it gets watered:

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5122-250Slow Food USA is focusing on school gardens as a way to promote its mission. Slow Food Seattle would like to serve as a resource for creating, maintaining and teaching youth through gardens.  At a recent Slow Foods Seattle School Garden Meeting, Philip Lee hosted the Keynote Presentation:

WHOLE KIDS FOUNDATION
Dorothy Mankey, Pacific Northwest regional coordinator of the Whole Kids Foundation, spoke about its program, which includes:
1) School Garden Grants

2) Salad Bar in Schools

3) Nutrition Education
More information is at http://www.wholekidsfoundation.org. A few key points to note: • Schools can qualify for a $2000 school garden grant as well as a $2000 salad bar grant

• Grant application is October 1-31. This is also when Whole Food stores will fundraise for the program. Money raised will stay locally for schools in the region. Let’s explore ways to help generate publicity.

• Nutrition education program is new. Whole Foods team member may visit schools and give presentations on nutrition.

The next meeting will be:

6/3 @ Pathfinder K8. 4:00-5:30 pm (http://pathfinderk8.seattleschools.org/) Guest speaker Gretchen DeDecker, Seattle Public Schools, Self Help Program Manager, who oversees school gardens, will discuss the district’s guidelines or creating and maintaining gardens.

Follow Slow Food Seattle on Facebook.

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As every student at our school knows, our winters are wet, followed by periods of damp, and soggy.  This was the climate that Spanish explorers encountered when they spent the winter of 1791 in Neah Bay.

Makah Ozette fingerling potato

Makah Ozette fingerling potato

Spanish captain, Salvador Fidalgo, after exploring the NW coast up to Alaska on earlier voyages, led an expedition from San Blas, Mexico, to establish a Spanish post at Neah Bay, WA.  The explorers built the fort and planted a vegetable garden.  After the severe winter weather, the Spanish abandoned the post, in part due to the treacherous moorage.  The Makah people either traded for, or adopted the thin-skinned potatoes from the abandoned garden and have kept them in continuous cultivation for 200 years.    The seed from these potatoes were identified in the 1980s and named after one of the 5 ancient Makah villages (Waatch, Sooes, Deah, Ozette and Bahaada), as the Ozette Potato.  Phylogenetic studies (analysis of the DNA genome) indicate that these potatoes were directly imported from South America.

Slow Food Biodiversity

Slow Food Biodiversity

Identified as a heritage potato, the Slow Food USA added the Makah Ozette Potato to the Ark of Taste in 2005.  “The US Ark of Taste is a catalog of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction. By promoting and eating Ark products we help ensure they remain in production and on our plates.”  It has carefully propagated and made these rare potatoes available to cultivation and they have been shared among backyard enthusiasts and small farmers who bring them to restaurants and farmers’ markets.  The potato was added to the Slow Food Presidiato improve the infrastructure of artisan food production. The goals of the Presidia are to guarantee a viable future for traditional foods by stabilizing production techniques, establishing stringent production standards, and promoting local consumption.” 

The Oregon foundation, Eat. Think. Grow. developed a lesson plan around the Makah Ozette Potato, which is included here for download [PDF].  A 5 minute video is available [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyXmVQMST80].

Recycled materials

Recycled materials

On the last day of school before Spring Break, our students planted this heritage potato in potato-towers.  Potatoes are traditionally planted in rows that are hilled up as they grow, so that more tubers will grow along the stem.  Due to lack of space, many home gardeners grow potatoes in towers, to which you attach boards and fill in, as the potatoes grow.  We pre-cut and pre-drilled some recycled lumber, and provided the screws and drills for the kids to put together the towers. It is so empowering to let the kids use the power tools themselves.  As our program grows, I hope we will have more construction projects.  Here, Mr. Bass helps a student align the screws.

Building the Tower

Building the Tower

Once the tower was constructed, the students filled up to the first board with dirt, planted the potatoes, and covered them up with the remaining dirt. We will continue to add dirt after 6″-12″ of the potato leaves are above the surface, and add boards as the potatoes grow. Once the tower is complete, the potatoes will be left to flower and die. In the fall, we’ll unscrew one side of the tower, collecting the dirt and potatoes as the whole thing is emptied. I can’t wait until our fall feast, served with lightly buttered Makah Ozette potatoes. Don’t forget to save some for next year!

Tower in progress

Tower in progress

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Planting garlic bulbs.

Planting garlic bulbs.

Our third graders have continued to spend time in the school garden this winter, experimenting with cold weather crops. They planted garlic in the fall, which is starting to shows its sprouts now.

Thanks to donations of Swanson’s Holiday Dollars and a matching gift from APP Grandma Lois Caswell, we were able to build a cloche for our garden so that the third graders could get an early start on planting spring crops. Right now, we have our first peas peeking up under the cloche.

Cloches are easy to build. Shopping for parts took longer than installing! Our cloche is made from 5 foot lengths of 1/2 inch pipe bent into hoops and inserted into 8 inch lengths of 3/4 inch pipe, which we drove into the ground as anchors. Over the hoops we laid permeable  landscaping cloth. The cloth is fastened to the hoops with clips and secured in the soil with landscape pins. The cloth helps trap heat to encourage seed germination and growth. Its permeability allows the rain to penetrate, which means we don’t have to worry about watering. Simple and effective!

Our new cloche!

Our new cloche!

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