Friday, May 1, 2015

Bacoat Historic Community Garden's Square Foot Gardening Challenge

Louie Bacoat Historic Community Teaching Garden
The photo above is part of the Bacoat Historic Community Garden. The section pictured is our Teaching Garden. The 16’ X 4’ raised beds are numbered from 16 – 22. 16 is closest to the street. The materials for the construction of these beds were donated by members of the Community who support the Bacoat Historic Community Garden.

The Louie Bacoat Historic Community Garden is an Organic Gardening Cooperative.
No pesticides allowed. We use peat moss to aerate the soil to encourage earthworm activity. We use well cured manure as fertilizer. We use natural methods to discourage pests. The Rutger's Cooperative Extension Plant & Pest Advisory is a valuable resource. Companion planting of various types of flowers helped deter aphids. Marigolds, nasturtiums, etc.

The Deer - Last year, Mr. Gainey's beautiful green beans, lima beans, cowpeas, lettuce, eggplant and sweet peas were the favorites of the deer in our neighborhood. We made up a paste using the hottest pepper we could find and mixed with garlic. We painted this mixture on the leaves of plants and on the boxes. This paste kept the deer away for the rest of the season. We learned that deer do not like mint of any kind. They also do not have a taste for collard greens, broccoli, napa cabbage, spinach, cabbage, dill, mustard greens, turnip greens or arugula. We did not see any groundhog activity, but we know those little critters are out there.

The Beds - They have been assigned by age group. This is not written in stone. It was simply a place to start. We have provided topsoil. The soil in each bed is already mixed with peat moss and well cured manure

Number 22 is reserved for the youngest gardeners  – My grandson is a kindergarten student at Quarles and he has told me about his plant. He is counting the sprouts everyday. He wanted to know what will happen to it in the summer time. We encourage teachers from Quarles to transplant the seedlings planted by the young ones in this box prior to the end of school. This way the children will be able to see the harvest that the tiny seed produced. They may visit the Teaching Garden with family throughout the summer and participate in other activities all summer long. They will be able to help protect the plants and learn the many challenges the plant faces prior to becoming food on the plate. Use the attached planting guide, kindly  provided by Rutgers to determine when those seedlings should be transplanted in the soil. Some seeds may be sown directly into the soil right now.

Number 21 The Greenhouse - The bed covered with the plastic is our hoop garden. It was created by our Master Gardener, Joe Mironov and the children. Right now there are seeds germinating in the greenhouse environment beneath the plastic. The greenhouse is utilized by all gardeners. If you have seeds that your class has planted, you are welcome to place them in the Greenhouse until they are ready to plant in the garden. Make sure the containers are labeled. The plastic may only be lifted from the west side of the bed. That way the names of plants and their owners are clearly visible.
Master Gardener, Joe Mironov taught a class in hoop garden building.
They planted greens in the garden the same day. The greens produced were
still being harvested at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Inside the hoop. These are all cold crop vegetables so we did not 
immediately close each end of the bed. The plastic cover protected the
greens from the deer.

Avalon and Xavier selected plants they would like to grow. We used ice cream
sticks to label each section. Their names are also included to avoid confusion.
Their Mother suggested that they place something personal with their seeds.
They selected these little concrete stars that they colored. They thought the
garden needed some artwork.
Today, they visited their little gardens after school.
Number 20 - (Grades 1 - 3) Grieco Elementary School age Students

Number 19 - (Grades 4 - 6) McCloud Elementary School age Students

Number 18 - (Grades 7 - 8)  Janis E. Dismus Middle School age Students

Number 17- (Grades 9 - 10) DMHS

Number 16 - (Grades 11- 12) DMHS ( This age group may choose to lead the younger children in a planting project utilizing the bed.)

The challenge--
1. Divide the bed into square feet with squares using 
your own choice of dividers. Use measuring tools.
2. Companion plant the raised bed with seeds and seedlings
that grow together and compliment each other's growth.
Choose plants that get along together in the same box.
3. Identify and include beneficial plants in the bed
4. Select the type of material to divide the bed and decide how much of the box to use in the venture.
  • string
  • lattice
  • ribbon
  • bamboo
5. Choose plants that will stay in the box. Avoid plants that will run into the walking area. Vertical structures must be researched and approved.

We are encouraging teachers at the various schools to challenge your students to find the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math in Gardening at the Louie Bacoat Historic Community Garden.

Parents who have children in the age groups and schools listed are also encouraged to bring the children and garden with  us.

We have provided you with a raised bed that  is 16 ft X 4 feet. That is enough space to grow amazing things. We challenge you to teach your children about Square Foot Gardening. This gardening technique is ripe with challenges for the students and the teachers. If you decide to accept the challenge, you have varied choices of what to use to divide the beds. This technique also allows for the participation of many more students. Companion planting, organic pest control, beneficial plants, insects and animals may also  be explored.

Garden Guidelines
May 15 - Beds must be prepared for planting
June 15 - Beds must be planted.  Keep in mind that when it is hot and dry, it is not a great time to transplant tender plants into the garden. Transplanting generally happens before the Summer heat becomes oppressive.

Examples of Square Foot Gardens - Google images

  1. All New Square Foot Gardening, Author

Print out and use this handy guide to begin planting 
your seeds in the garden, beginning now.  Pay close
attention to the legend at the bottom left. It tells you
when to plant seeds or transplants outdoors.

Teachers are welcome to contact me via email at which time you will be given a phone number for myself and other participants.

This little fellow was in our garden.

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