Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Great Sunflower project

my favored sunflower photo from 2008

Do you have the time to sit with a sunflower and count the minutes till a bee shows up? Well, after thirty minutes you can go do something else if no bee has shown up.

My friend, ZM, at the school passed on the link to The Great Sunflower Project being run by Gretchen LeBuhn, who is an associate professor at San Francisco State University.

anyway, I thought it was a great idea so I got us signed up and if all goes well we will participate in this nation wide study of bees.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

these seedlings are noisy and bossy

If you sit still, you will hear them. The billions and billions of seedlings in my classroom (over 200 tomato alone, plus a good number of a large variety of peppers, and just today we divided up the silver dollars, dahlias, lemon balm, and creeping thyme that had sprouted and brought about true leaves). These seedlings are as loud as a nest full of hungry birds wondering where the next meal is coming from. And was that one of the three types of eggplants I saw sprouting this morning. Clearly the Calendula is up and coming to seek the light.

and of course life at home is bustling as some how we planned 4 craft shows in 7 weeks.

and then there is my shoulder that ached so much I went to a doctor. OT and ice and heat and exercises... it is feeling better. My home garden has declared that the shoulder is good enough and fully expects to see me on Sunday.

And the seedlings cry out for attention and care and then they get bossy. "We need more space! What are all these house plants doing in this classroom? You have no right to be here." So we have been selling them off, but still more space is needed.

I have some ideas to make space. I have no choice as the greenhouse is not the place for them yet. The seedlings rule at Pathway. And all in all this is so much better than those doldrums between making the seed order and the mayhem of spring.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

imperfections in my classroom

lets do four...

  • dead seedlings--- that's what a lack of water will do to a young (or old plant). The good news is that only a few were done in by this neglect. That's the problem with cooking on Mondays, I didn't take a close enough look at all our seedlings.
  • confused peppers--- I took the suggestion of one of my students and we planted a pepper which thrived in pots. I thought, why not do something nice for folk with patio gardens. Then we planted two types of peppers in the same seed pack. That's right, it included the one just mentioned. As the Mighty Assistant said to me as I was chastising myself... "You were having too much fun joking around with the students."
  • sell them fresh--- to annoy the Human Suggestion Box, we made Lavender Blueberry Muffins, and while they were OK a day or two old (hungry students still ate them) they were nothing like the ones fresh from the oven. Fortunately most sold the day we baked. Yes, that would be the day the seedlings died.
  • poor sentence structure--- I am a descendent of a long line of Pennsylvanian Germans. We say things like, "throw the cow over the fence some hay." I am sure I said clearly what I wanted my students to do. I am also sure they did what I told them to do. So instead of three seedlings in every section of a seed pack, we ended up with nine in some cases...

What we do next is divide them one to a section burying part of the stem to keep the plants stocky and full of roots ...

The good news is that even a place as lovely as Longwood Gardens...

But even Longwood has its imperfections...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Philadelphia flower show 2 ---- artisans

After the potted plants (see last post) we moved on to the artisans and hucksters who pay quite a fortune to have a booth at the show. We do craft shows ourselves so we are always looking at how others go about it. We came home with this ...

a piece of pottery by a guy who goes by ripple pottery . It was his deep red glaze with some funky blue on it that caught our eye. So this summer I will be trying out some flower arranging Ikebana style... all I know for now is you place the stems into the spikes and they stay fresh longer.

Will post more on it when I try it...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

a trip to the Philadelphia flower show part 1

Sorry to say, I didn't have the energy to take students, from all reports it is mayhem during the times I could take them. Bus load after bus load after bus load. So here is how I go about seeing this amazing event.

First I have to get the gumption to go. We had planned to go Wednesday, but after several inches of snow on Monday and frigid temperatures on Tuesday I was not in the mood to be inspired to garden. Hibernating sounded better. Then it started to warm and even though it was 10 degrees Wednesday morning, it was in the 50's on Friday. Having to leave for a medical appointment, I decided I would end the work week a bit early and go to the flower show.

I am an introvert so pushing my way through a crowd to see a beautiful display is not my mind of fun, so I hit the show late in the afternoon when the buses (and cars) are beating the rush hour traffic.

The show is set up like this...

  • go to the right and see large displays by major names in the field
  • go to the center and see individual potted plants and displays by smaller names in the field
  • go to the left and you hit the vendors

I like the center, the middle ground so to speak, and with the big displays still a bit crowded we hit the succulents, and I thought to myself... "I could specialize in the realm of those that hoard water ..."

Echinopsis sp. Crest

Huernia zebrina

Crassula "Buddha's Temple

Pleiospilos neli

Albuca spiralis

do you see and feel what I experienced?

Monday, March 2, 2009

I so want to do this--- hydroponic butterhead lettuce

Willow Creek Orchards in Collegeville, PA is keeping their market open on Saturdays this winter so we continue to eat local---- onions, potatoes, winter squash, mushrooms, carrots, apples, cabbages, radishes... and lots of greens. This week something new caught my eye. I just tried to find the scrap of the plastic which had the name of the farm that grew it, but I do remember it was in Telford, PA. The directions were simple... place in glass of water to keep fresh.

anyway, I just wanted to say, I am filled with a desire to do this at the school. I have ideas. I even have some lettuce seedlings. I have done a bit of research but did not find a website that has thrilled me (any suggestions?).