Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fresh Herbs All Winter

Last year we had the opportunity to purchase a grow light for our garden and greenhouse program.  It was used last year to grow seedlings for our garden, but having the greenhouse now, we no longer needed the grow light for that purpose.  Instead Chef Emily and I decided to set up the grow light in the cafeteria and grow fresh herbs all school year long. Now Chef Emily has easy access to the herbs for cooking all of our wonderful school lunches!  Also, it is pretty cool to have the herbs growing in the cafeteria for all the students to see.  Under the grow light you will find mint, parsley, cilantro, rosemary and chives.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Seedlings in January!

Over the holiday break our first planting of seeds sprouted in the greenhouse and we will soon have a few crops of lettuce and spinach varieties available for our cafeteria salad bar.  Just before we went on holiday break, I was able to pull out two groups of seventh graders, and also the entire fourth/fifth blend of approximately fifty students, to plant the different varieties of seeds in our greenhouse growing space.  We were concerned about the seeds sprouting, because of the solstice and very small window of sunlight that Maine receives right now.  But with the greenhouse reaching almost eighty degrees some days, and the extra amount of sunny weather we had over the break, the seeds sprouted nicely and are growing great!  It is such a wonderful feeling to know that we are growing fresh greens for our cafeteria in the middle of January!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


        Last week we were finally able to order our garden soil for the raised beds inside the greenhouse.  Luckily the temperature has been extra mild this late fall, and we had the perfect weather for the soil delivery on Friday from A.C. Parsons garden and landscape center here on the island.  We had them mix the garden soil for us using three fourths garden loam, and one fourth organic compost.  During the last period of the day, Mr. Cote was able to bring out some of his middle school students and with the help of Mr. McFarland, and using only five gallon buckets, they were able to move almost all four yards of soil inside the greenhouse and into the raised beds!
        This week we will be planting a crop of spinach and a mesclun salad mix for the cafeteria's salad bar. We will also have the middle school science class and the fourth and fifth graders who will be doing some seed and soil experiments in the greenhouse soon.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


    Last week we finally harvested our two pumpkins that we grew with Mrs. Garrity's second grade.  The pumpkin seedlings had been a donation from one of our second graders last year, and he and his class had a blast harvesting and weighing them.  The students spent a class period out in the garden, and cleaned out the pumpkin bed, transferred all the pumpkin vines and plant materials into the compost, and harvested the two pumpkins which were a dill variety.  The dill variety of pumpkin is named after Howard Dill of Nova Scotia and are most commonly used to grow giant pumpkins. The pumpkins usually end up weighing between 50 and 100lbs when harvested.  Mrs. Garrity's class borrowed the scale from the nurse's office and we weighted each pumpkin.  The first pumpkin weighted 38lbs and the second weighed 63lbs.   
     This week we decided to carve the pumpkins with the second graders, so we could display them in front of our new greenhouse for our annual school Halloween parade on Friday afternoon.  Unfortunately when we began carving the pumpkins, we quickly found that they were very thick and extremely difficult to carve.  We quickly changed our plans, and had the second graders decorate and draw faces on the pumpkins with markers.  The students had just as much fun decorating the pumpkins instead of carving them. If you are walking past the school anytime soon, you can find them sitting on some hay bales outside our new greenhouse for the parade tomorrow! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Watermelons and Cantaloupes

      Last spring Mrs. Garrity's second grade class started watermelon and cantaloupe seedlings from seeds that were donated to the garden program.  We started the seeds in late April and we grew them on the second grader's windowsill all spring.  In June right before school let out, the kids planted the seedlings in one of our raised beds for the summer. Normally both of these crops are hard to grow in Maine because of the cooler temperatures and shorter growing season.  Luckily we had an extra hot and unusually dry summer for the state of Maine, which had a negative effect on some gardening, but for our watermelons and cantaloupes it was the perfect climate.  This past week, we took the now third graders out to harvest both the watermelons and the cantaloupes from the garden.  In total we harvested about 6 watermelons, and 9 cantaloupes.  The third graders had a taste of both, and they were delicious.  The rest of our melon harvest can be found on our school lunch fruit and salad bar.
       These students seeing the full circle of planting seeds and harvesting the fruits or vegetables almost 6 months later, is what our garden and greenhouse program is all about!  The students love it! More harvest news to come soon!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Beets, butterflies, and our new greenhouse!

We are officially in our third week of school, and we have all hit the ground running.  Our school garden was maintained all summer by the Neighborhood House campers and one of our garden coordinators Julie Taylor.  Right before school started the campers and Julie were able to harvest almost all of our beets, and they were canned and preserved for the school year and given to Chef Emily!  Miss Eileen one of our wonderful librarians, has been cultivating Monarch butterflies in the library, and our students are getting the opportunity to tag and release these Monarchs, and track their journey to Mexico for the winter.
And last we are very excited to announce that our greenhouse is almost done, and will soon be filled with many students growing vegetables!  Falt Builders, from right here in Northeast Harbor, very generously built the entire greenhouse for us this summer, and only a few more details remain before it is finished!  We are very excited about the many fun things happening this school year in our gardening program!  Stay posted for more news from Growing Gardens, Growing Minds!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The week of planting

Our school year is very quickly coming to an end this week, but before we are all gone for the summer, the students are getting an opportunity to plant the seedlings they've been growing all spring.  They love helping to plant the seedlings, turn over the soil and weed, and help water all the seedlings still left to be planted!  One of our garden coordinators Julie Taylor, will be leading a gardening class once a week in our school garden with all of the summer campers at the Neighborhood House here in Northeast Harbor.  The campers will maintain the garden, and help harvest vegetables when they are ready mid summer.  Many of our crops will be ready in the fall,  and will be incorporated into our school lunches!