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!   

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Greenhouse excitement

If you have walked passed the school recently then you will see that we have a new sign and an area staked off for our greenhouse.  Construction on the greenhouse will start in early June, by some wonderful local contributors, Falt Builders and BCM construction.  This greenhouse has been a dream for many dedicated parents and staff members, and with a lot of generous donations and fundraising it will soon be a reality!  The structure will be an 18 x 32ft gothic arch greenhouse with tables for starting seedlings and also a few raised beds for extending the growing season with our students. Please stay posted and check back in early June for some progress on the project!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Busy bees!

We are very proud to say that we now have an observation hive at Mount Desert Elementary!  Thanks to the wonderful efforts of one of our garden coordinators, Julie Taylor, we now have an observation hive in our middle school science room, and all the students are welcome to observe.  The bees were set up today, and so far the students are loving it!  They are having a blast just observing the hive, trying to find the queen, and putting their hands up against the glass to feel the vibrations of the worker bees.  There is a small tube that is connected to the window, and the bees will come and go to the hive from the window, entering and exiting the hive through the tube.  There were even many teachers checking out the hive at the end of the day!
Keep checking in to see what the bees are up to!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Cucumbers, kale and tomatoes!

Last week we had the wonderful opportunity to plant seeds with all our students.  Each class planted one tray of seeds and they will get to watch the seeds sprout on their windowsills over the next couple of weeks.  We discussed with each class how the results would be different for each classroom based on the amount of sunlight each room receives, and also which direction the classroom is facing, noting that the south facing seedlings would most likely do the best.  To our surprise this morning, we already have cucumbers, kale and tomatoes sprouting!  The enthusiasm and excitement amongst those students who noticed we had some seeds which had sprouted over the weekend was great to see!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

First spinach harvest

 Today we had the the opportunity to harvest our first crop of spinach from the garden.  We have had great weather the past few days, and we were excited to see the spinach really growing a lot the past week!  This is our first spinach harvest, and we should be able to harvest at least once more.  The spinach will be incorporated into our school lunch salad bar this week!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Getting ready

We are excited to be back to school from our April vacation, and we are even more excited to be starting seedlings with all the students. We have designated one variety of seeds to be grown by each grade level, and we will be starting the seedlings next week.  Between now and the first week of June, the students will have the opportunity to observe the seedlings sprouting and growing in their classrooms. We will be planting these seedlings in the garden just before school lets out for the summer.
Here is our plan for the garden this year, and a few samples of the seedlings we will be growing!  

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cold frame success!

Last fall, we created seed tape with a few of the students using spinach seeds, and we planted the tape in our cold frame box.  We knew we were planting later in the fall than normal, but we took a chance to see if we would get any spinach.  Unfortunately, it became very cold quickly and the snow began to fly.  We assumed that the spinach never took because of the cold weather.  Much to our surprise, we checked the cold frame this spring and the spinach had re-seeded itself and we currently have spinach sprouting in the cold frame!

Signs of Spring

As the snow is melting around the school and our days are getting longer and longer, we are starting to see the beginning signs of spring!  With great delight, we have seen our garlic and rhubarb pushing up through the dirt and reaching for the warm spring sunshine.  We will be looking forward to harvesting the rhubarb before the school year is over.  The children will have the opportunity to see the rhubarb incorporated into the cafeteria with their school lunches.