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Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 | 2 comments

DC Schoolyard Garden Bike Tour

DC Schoolyard Garden Bike Tour

As an ACPS teacher and our school’s environmental steward, I was instantly intrigued when I heard about the DC Schoolyard Garden Bike Tour. I wanted to see first-hand how DC public schools incorporate gardens into their educational programs and borrow ideas to use back at home. I met up with the tour at Bicycle Space in DC. We started off with a short introduction and a run down of the rules (basically ride in a single file line). Then we were off to our first school! The first garden we saw was at JO Wilson Elementary. I was in awe with their tower garden system — they had strawberries, lettuce, and various greens integrated into these amazing towers. The towers yield enough for the students to sell strawberry smoothies at their weekly CSA program and garden market. Of course, they have the coolest blender around. The next school was Tyler Elementary. They welcomed us with delicious refreshments (thanks, Slow Foods). I particularly liked their garden signs that were made...

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Posted by on May 18, 2015 | 0 comments

Creating a Permaculture Herb Spiral

Creating a Permaculture Herb Spiral

Herb spirals are a permaculture structure, created of stone or brick in a circular pattern. They provide micro-climates for different types of plants and they are habitat for beneficial insects. I learned about herb spirals from Michael Judd’s book Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist. The idea of the herb spiral is to create a type of raised bed where the bed rises in a spiral rather than being flat. I made my herb spiral with bricks because I had a lot of them from the former homeowner’s landscaping. I placed cardboard at the bottom since I was working on grass. Then started to lay the bricks. I will admit that it took several tries to get the spiral just right. At first, I made it too narrow so that the internal swirl was too close to the sides. I had to remove several layers of bricks and start the outer curve over so that it was wider, leaving more room in the middle. Once I got the first...

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Posted by on May 15, 2015 | 0 comments

The MVCS Garden Party and Bazaar is HERE!

The MVCS Garden Party and Bazaar is HERE!

Del Ray’s Mount Vernon Community School is having a Garden Party and Bazaar at the school’s playground (corner of Uhler and Mt Vernon Avenues in Del Ray) this Saturday, May 16 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. It is going to be a great family event and all the money raised goes directly into the school’s playground renovation fund. Event organizer Sue Henry, a MVCS parent and avid gardener, started these lovely seedlings weeks ago in her light-filled basement. The students at Mount Vernon are pitching in too. In our courtyard greenhouse we have a sampling of herbs, flowers, and vegetables started from seed by the Green Thumbs Club available for purchase at the event. We have also received plant donations from Mr. Nicholson, the school’s science coordinator, and school volunteer, Ms. Donna. At recess time, second graders have been making rosemary wreaths from our large rosemary bush in the school’s garden. The wreaths will also be for sale. In addition to the plant sale, join us Saturday for:...

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Posted by on May 5, 2015 | 0 comments

Growing Mushrooms at Home

Growing Mushrooms at Home

Growing mushrooms is a relatively easy project. I learned from a friend named Mary who hosted a mushroom meet-up here in Lynchburg. While there are many nuances to growing mushrooms, here are the basic steps. Step1: Gather Supplies Mushroom plug spawn (check out http://www.sharondalefarm.com/) Food grade cheese wax or beeswax (also available from http://www.sharondalefarm.com/) Log(s) Drill with 5/16 bit Hammer Heat source to melt the wax Brush to wipe melted wax onto the plugs A shady ideally north-facing space where you’ll keep the logs Step 2: Prepare Logs You want logs that are about a foot and a half long so they are easy to move around and soak later in the process. Each type of mushroom does best in certain wood. For the Pearl Oysters, Sharondale Farm’s website says they do best on Tulip Poplar or Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) logs. Mary had cut some Tree of Heaven logs for us since they are invasive species and this is a good use for them. Drill holes the...

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Posted by on Apr 2, 2015 | 0 comments

Sunprinted Natural-Dye Easter Eggs

Sunprinted Natural-Dye Easter Eggs

I stumbled upon this blog post about sunprinted Easter eggs and was instantly intrigued. Though they aren’t technically sunprints (that requires special chemicals) they have that sunprinted look and seemed to be a nice change from our typical natural-dyed eggs we’ve made over the past couple of years. (You don’t need natural dyes to make these, but I’m providing the instructions for how I made these using blueberries as my dye.) Supplies: A dozen hard-boiled eggs Small pack of blueberries 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup white vinegar Fresh-picked leaves of varying shapes and sizes One pair of pantyhose (or pieces of cheesecloth), cut into 3-inch squares To make the dye, I simmered a small pack of blueberries in a pan with some water, mashing the berries with a fork to get the juices out. This took a few minutes. Then I strained the berries and added vinegar to the liquid. As the dye cooled, I prepared the eggs. I didn’t have any interesting leaves, so I used a weed...

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