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A Dow
Posts: 21
Location: Depending on the time of the year: San Diego, California, or Louisville Kentucky
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Hello there Permies
I really would like a school garden at my Montessori preschool, but need some help/advice.
There are three "spots" to plant in, and I want to take this slowly and do one spot at a time.
The first section is on a slope, facing east. lots of sun!
What are some good permaculture ideas I can implement regarding irrigation, and, what are some ideal edible plants to plant for a slope?
Here are some pictures. P.S. I am in San Diego
TIA! Ana
IMG_1831.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1831.JPG]
1'st pic southern end
IMG_1832.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1832.JPG]
2'nd pic northern end with shed
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Randomly, I've done some gardening stuff at a Montessori preschool.
In any school environment, it's quite a challenge getting systems going fast enough that kids stay interested.
Preschoolers take that to a whole new level Gardens tend to happen at a much slower pace than little kids do!


I won't make any suggestions yet, it's Question Time!
How much freedom do you really have have to 'do stuff'; and are you confident that the school's expectations and yours match? Sounds a bit retentive, but things can be so easily misunderstood.
That's a difficult, steep-looking space. Would you say it was?
While the photos give an idea, what size do you think the space is?
What's the building at the end? Is it used often? How about the path?
The soil looks clayey from the photo (yay!), but how would you describe it?
You say 'edible plants'. Does that include edible for insects? It could be ideal.
On that note, do you know if the school might have a policy or attitude about encouraging stinging insects? It's something to keep in mind.

Actually, could you post photos of the other areas for context? If this is the fiddliest area, that would be great!
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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As Leila implied, waiting 90+ days for a tomato to ripen is probably far beyond their attention span.

Perhaps some pretty flowers that attract butterflies to keep their attention while the 'snacks' mature.

 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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Strawberries are always a hit with little kids. You can plant them now, mulch them in well then let the kids forget about them until the berries are ripe, or study the interesting insects and worms that are drawn to the mulch.

You can do the whole sprouting seeds thing in the meantime, let them try to sprout fruit seeds from their food, plant a horseradish root, try some ginger or sugar cane if you can find some fresh enough, grow carrot tops or celery middles... I home schooled my kids and they had endless fun growing stuff. Oh yeah, bean sprouts are fun too but some bean sprouts (like kidney beans) are toxic, so make sure you let them eat only the ones that are safe.

Sunflower seeds are fun and preschools seem to love the sunflower theme. They grow so fast that you can almost see them grow. I'd do the 10 - 15 foot kind like Mammoth.

They could also learn plant propagation like begonia leaves, violets, sweet potatoes, rooting willows, etc.

IMHO raised beds are the way to go - don't want their hard work trampled by little sisters or brothers or something. If not raised beds, if there is a brushy area to harvest you could make a wattle fence - weaving is probably something they could manage.
 
Ken Peavey
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Location: FL
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When I was a kid it was always a treat to eat something in class. For fun I'd eat the pencils!

In 4th grade we did an experiment with peas. We put seeds and soil in cups, sprouted them, every kid had a marked cup. When they were a couple inches high, some aphids that had been ordered arrived. We all got 4 aphids, let them loose on our pea. I may have eaten a couple of them. We measured and recorded the height, any changes we observed, and counted aphids. Within a few days, many of the aphids had migrated to just a few plants. As a science lesson, it was pretty safe. The plants disappeared when the experiment was over.

While this sort of experiment might be a bit much for preschoolers, the notion of starting seeds in cups would expose the kids to the growing cycle from start to finish. Started at the right time will give the garden a head start when it is time to transplant. Quick growing plants (for attention span) would be in order. Edibles will be appreciated by the kids. Peas and beans, are prolific. Root crops are a nice surprise, I'm thinking radish, turnip and carrots. Leaf crops such as mustard for a taste sensation, all kinds of lettuce greens can make an attractive garden to satisfy the administrators.

Some herbs can add another level. Rosemary and thyme can be grown from cuttings (lesson here), but are kinda slow. These plants offer aroma as well as a taste experience. Something faster would be mint, basil, and cilantro. The kids would love fennel.

Next up is flowers. Gotta have more aroma. Some are edible, but it would be your discretion to explain what is and is not edible, and not to wander the neighborhood eating the neighbors azaleas. With the flowers you can talk about bees, pollination, and where fruit comes from.

Put all this together, you end up with a polyculture.
 
A Dow
Posts: 21
Location: Depending on the time of the year: San Diego, California, or Louisville Kentucky
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Leila Rich wrote:Randomly, I've done some gardening stuff at a Montessori preschool.
In any school environment, it's quite a challenge getting systems going fast enough that kids stay interested.
Preschoolers take that to a whole new level Gardens tend to happen at a much slower pace than little kids do!


I won't make any suggestions yet, it's Question Time!
How much freedom do you really have have to 'do stuff'; and are you confident that the school's expectations and yours match? Sounds a bit retentive, but things can be so easily misunderstood.
That's a difficult, steep-looking space. Would you say it was?
While the photos give an idea, what size do you think the space is?
What's the building at the end? Is it used often? How about the path?
The soil looks clayey from the photo (yay!), but how would you describe it?
You say 'edible plants'. Does that include edible for insects? It could be ideal.
On that note, do you know if the school might have a policy or attitude about encouraging stinging insects? It's something to keep in mind.

Actually, could you post photos of the other areas for context? If this is the fiddliest area, that would be great!


Thanks Leila!
Okay, I understand what you mean. The director is supportive, but wants it to be something any of the teachers could manage in the event one of us leaves for any reason( myself and another teacher want to head this up).
It is steep,very!
The building is storage for Montessori Materials, it's used mainly at the beginning/end of every month.
It is probably 30 feet long and maybe 7 feet from the top fence to the sidewalk.
he path is used, not frequently, but sometimes we use it for hopscotch etc.
The soil is dry, dusty,...maybe deeper down it is clayey tho?
Will post some pictures of the other areas
 
A Dow
Posts: 21
Location: Depending on the time of the year: San Diego, California, or Louisville Kentucky
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John Polk wrote:As Leila implied, waiting 90+ days for a tomato to ripen is probably far beyond their attention span.

Perhaps some pretty flowers that attract butterflies to keep their attention while the 'snacks' mature.



Good idea, John! A butterfly bush would be superb.
 
A Dow
Posts: 21
Location: Depending on the time of the year: San Diego, California, or Louisville Kentucky
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Love the strawberry,Sunflower, and raised bed idea!!
Haven't heard of a wattle fence though..what is that!? Thanks
Renate Haeckler wrote:Strawberries are always a hit with little kids. You can plant them now, mulch them in well then let the kids forget about them until the berries are ripe, or study the interesting insects and worms that are drawn to the mulch.

You can do the whole sprouting seeds thing in the meantime, let them try to sprout fruit seeds from their food, plant a horseradish root, try some ginger or sugar cane if you can find some fresh enough, grow carrot tops or celery middles... I home schooled my kids and they had endless fun growing stuff. Oh yeah, bean sprouts are fun too but some bean sprouts (like kidney beans) are toxic, so make sure you let them eat only the ones that are safe.

Sunflower seeds are fun and preschools seem to love the sunflower theme. They grow so fast that you can almost see them grow. I'd do the 10 - 15 foot kind like Mammoth.

They could also learn plant propagation like begonia leaves, violets, sweet potatoes, rooting willows, etc.

IMHO raised beds are the way to go - don't want their hard work trampled by little sisters or brothers or something. If not raised beds, if there is a brushy area to harvest you could make a wattle fence - weaving is probably something they could manage.
 
A Dow
Posts: 21
Location: Depending on the time of the year: San Diego, California, or Louisville Kentucky
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Love it ,Ken
Definitely growing herbs from cuttings would be lovely.
And since beans/peas are pretty easy, that would be an ideal "crop".
Ken Peavey wrote:When I was a kid it was always a treat to eat something in class. For fun I'd eat the pencils!

In 4th grade we did an experiment with peas. We put seeds and soil in cups, sprouted them, every kid had a marked cup. When they were a couple inches high, some aphids that had been ordered arrived. We all got 4 aphids, let them loose on our pea. I may have eaten a couple of them. We measured and recorded the height, any changes we observed, and counted aphids. Within a few days, many of the aphids had migrated to just a few plants. As a science lesson, it was pretty safe. The plants disappeared when the experiment was over.

While this sort of experiment might be a bit much for preschoolers, the notion of starting seeds in cups would expose the kids to the growing cycle from start to finish. Started at the right time will give the garden a head start when it is time to transplant. Quick growing plants (for attention span) would be in order. Edibles will be appreciated by the kids. Peas and beans, are prolific. Root crops are a nice surprise, I'm thinking radish, turnip and carrots. Leaf crops such as mustard for a taste sensation, all kinds of lettuce greens can make an attractive garden to satisfy the administrators.

Some herbs can add another level. Rosemary and thyme can be grown from cuttings (lesson here), but are kinda slow. These plants offer aroma as well as a taste experience. Something faster would be mint, basil, and cilantro. The kids would love fennel.

Next up is flowers. Gotta have more aroma. Some are edible, but it would be your discretion to explain what is and is not edible, and not to wander the neighborhood eating the neighbors azaleas. With the flowers you can talk about bees, pollination, and where fruit comes from.

Put all this together, you end up with a polyculture.
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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You can eat the tips of the pea plants too. They taste like peas!

A wattle fence is the kind where you drive wood stakes (cut from brush) into the ground then weave long pieces of thinner wood to make a fence. Small ones are more decorative but larger ones are used to contain chickens, even pigs in other places. They're very historical, too. And hands-on. See Mother Earth News' http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/make-simple-garden-fences.aspx#axzz2TgRbKwml
 
John Elliott
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Nasturtiums. They do very well in San Diego. CalTrans uses them for landscaping at some of the freeway onramps/offramps so they need to be low maintenance and take a lot of abuse -- exactly what you are looking for. Nasturtium flowers are edible, but they might be a little too sharp and peppery for some children. They can be like a strong radish, and they get hotter the more they are drought stressed. It's really a unique looking plant and flower, so it's not like there is a danger of confusing it with some toxic plant.
 
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