By Elena Mitchel, FoodCorps Service Member in Silver City, NM
The Sixth Street School Garden is growing and blossoming in this warm, wet June. Since the school does not have summer school this summer, I decided to put on a garden summer camp to get kids out into the garden. Summer camp started this past Monday and it has been a busy week! We’ve been planting the last of our summer crops. We planted watermelons and okra in the bed of plants that all originally come from Africa. We planted cucumbers in the bed of plants that originally come from Asia (cucumbers are originally from India). We pulled out the last of our winter wheat stalks and planted sorghum and melons! A gardening neighbor gave us some new herbs for us to plant in the herb spiral: pineapple sage, stevia and lemon thyme. It poured for two nights this week, conveniently watering in all our new seeds and transplants and making the garden smell wonderful!
Although it rained at night, it was hot during the day and we beat the heat by making mint, watermelon water. The kids harvested our mint from the herb spiral and we sweetened it with a few leaves of our new stevia plant! The children really loved the stevia and we discussed how if you wanted to make something sweet you could use stevia instead of sugar.
Besides planting, we have been exploring garden creatures. Turning the compost revealed sow bugs, roly polies, crickets, cockroaches, ants, grubs, and stinkbugs. We had a pair of doves move in to our willow tree and start to make a nest. In honor of the birds of the garden we created bird feeders out of recycled cereal boxes and caps. They help to make the garden more cheerful!
We are having a lot of fun in garden camp and I hope that beyond some fun times the children are learning how to care for living beings, gaining enthusiasm for fresh fruits and vegetables, gaining an understanding of basic functions of nature, and gaining an appreciation of the hard work and patience required to grow a garden.