Edible Peace Patch Blogs

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Friday, September 21, 2012


Today during the second shift, 1:30-3:30, Camilo, Amy and I (Julia) worked on mulching the Florida native beds, watered, and worked on some weeding. In one of the unplanted beds weeds have decided to flourish. I spent a while digging up the weeds and came upon an amazing root system (in the picture below). It was incredibly strong and took a good amount of time to pull out.
We then decided to re-mulch the beds of the Florida native plants and rearrange the rocks surrounding them, as you can see in the before and after photos below.
Around 3:00 one class arrived and we started off our semester! I was amazed at how invested the students were in learning what was going on in the garden. I had many students asking me about all of the plants and wanting to pick the vegetables. Another class arrived about 15 minutes later and it was great to meet even more students! I am so looking forward to the rest of the semester and getting to know these wonderful students. So far I have really enjoyed working at the peace patch and am excited to continue this journey!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Monday, Classes Start!

Second shift at Lakewood (11:00 – 1:00). We had 30 minutes until Ms. Barlow’s kindergarten students arrived! John, Mara, and I huddled and discussed our strategy and how we would split up and lead the 20 minutes of class time. We decided that John would do the introduction, Mara the garden rules, and I would assign students to group leaders. Great! Let’s go!

We heard them before we saw them; the students had just returned from lunch and were extremely excited to get out and meet the “garden people”. Ms. Barlow quieted them inside the school gate. She was calm but uncompromising, “Everyone pay attention and put on their listening ears before we go outside”. Sufficiently satisfied with their calmness she opened the door. Out they came, “bubbles and tail feathers”, which means lips pursed and cheeks puffed, and hands behind their backs with fingers spread like goldfish tail fins! We guided them to the shade of the live oak tree and arranged them in a row, cross legged on the sidewalk.

“WELCOME to the EDIBLE PEACE PATCH!”, John boomed with so much enthusiasm that I thought Willy Wonka had entered the schoolyard! Mara and I were startled by John’s dynamic introduction and the whole class sat up a little straighter. John did a fantastic job introducing the project and then Mara followed up with the garden rules discussion. The kindergarteners all had suggestions for rules with many versions of “No hitting, kicking, biting, taking things from each other, etc.” Mara reinforced the rule that students were not to step onto the garden beds less they damage some of the young seedlings coming up. After the rules discussion, I explain how each of them would be assigned to one of us as their “Garden Leader”. Unfortunately, time passed quickly. Group assignments and a first garden tour would have to be accomplished next time we met. “Farwell Ms. Barlow’s class! We will see you next week! Have a wonderful and productive week!”, we beckoned to them. The students followed Ms. Barlow to their next endeavor. Some of them called out their names to us as they passed by; eager to meet us again. Overall it was a great first meeting!

After the students left we dug into maintenance including clearing of the grass off the dirt pile. This proved to be a very hot and dusty job with LOTS of spiders, beetles, and other bugs were found living in the dirt pile (including an awesome squiggly cool purple millipede). I opted for the “gonzo approach” to clear the grasses. Using a shovel to dig around the weed covered pile, I tossed shovelfuls of dirt and grasses back to the top of the pile letting the weeds and their root balls tumble down and expose themselves for the culling. I found this to work really well. Mara, perfected what she calls “twirling the spaghetti” a technique she uses to remove all the pesky white root stems without breaking them and the brown spidery root bulbs of the sedges. Great progress was made on the dirt pile!

Ms. Diane

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Week One; Maintenance and Getting Acquainted

Today, I worked at Lakewood with Corday. The garden is looking beautiful. Almost everything has been mowed around the beds, so it looks nice and neat. We have a few eggplants, tomatoes and peppers planted, they are putting along in the heat but doing well.
We could tell a lot of work was already done this week, but the butterfly garden still needed a lot of weeding, so we worked on that for the two hours. This part of the garden is especially important for the health of the whole garden because it attracts pollinators. Just today, I witnessed many different types of bees buzzing around all of the flowers.
This week was a good start to get acquainted with the garden, but I'm really excited to meet the kids next week and start teaching them about gardening.


Friday, September 7, 2012

The Fall 2012 Season Begins

And so we begin our eighth semester growing food in the Edible Peace Patch Garden in Lakewood Elementary School.  This year I have been honored and blessed to have more volunteers than ever before.  Bright and early, 7:00 a.m., everyone rolled up to the back gate ready and raring to go.

The usual crew of Eckerd College students continue to make up the bulk of our semester long workforce, but we also have two student from the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, and a couple ambitious parents from Lakewood Elementary,

We had a tour of the garden (which is still looking a bit shaggy, but will be cleaned up in the week ahead), we checked the volunteer schedule to make sure everyone was assigned to days they could work, and made adjustments accordingly.

And the the volunteers went to work, transplanting starters and some slightly more mature plants that I have been nurturing in my back yard this summer.  I taught them how to prepare the soil and put the plants in the beds, and they set right to work.

By 8:00 a.m. as the sun was just creeping onto the garden, we had everything in.  Here are four eggplants that should begin producing before the month is out.

These are five sweet pepper plants.  There are also several more that have just sprouted, but are difficult to see.  We also expect pepper production within a few weeks.

The beds are ready, the grass needs trimming, but we'll get to that regular maintenance starting next Monday.

Everyone is so excited to put the garden in shape (you'll read about it next week) and then to begin sharing this wonderful project with the amazing children of Lakewood Elementary School.

Kip Curtis
Project Director