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 Post subject: Student Gardens
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 2:24 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2003 9:25 pm
Posts: 8
I am a teacher in Central Texas still learning to garden in Texas and switching over to organic gardening. Just after Spring Break I will be starting a gardening project along with 3 classes of students. We are going to design and plant 3 different plots and use those for a variety of experiements. My plan is to have one plot using un-amended native soil, one with organic amendments, fertilizes and such and one that is more conventional (chemicals). As we go along we will have different comparisions to make. If anyone has any suggestions for how to help this work I would appreciate any input. We are builiding 4X6 foot boxes and will be blending flowers and veggies. We are just now finishing our soil studies on ph, water retention and microbes. In particular I would appreciate suggestions on plants and techniques.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 7:59 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2003 10:35 am
Posts: 94
Location: houston, tx
Queenbit! I was just thinking about this early this morning. I bought a book recommended here on this site ...."The Vegetable Garden Bible" by Ed Smith and he covers the area of home soil tests and that started me thinking. I purchased a kit to do my own soil tests and thought, what a great science project this could be! It seems like an interesting experiment to see how accurate the home test kits are versus college laboratory tests. If you have seen Howard Garrett's latest book he shows pictures of his daughter's science project where she compares a garlic plant growth in various types of soil. Very interesting!

I think it would be interesting to plant the same plant --like a pinto bean and show the difference of the root growth and productivity in various soils and also show the soil test results from a home lab. I would then send in the soil to a laboratory and show the comparison from that aspect.
Can you tell we have done many science projects from this homefront? :D Just feel like if you are doing one--make that time worthwhile! - Susan

"Life ain't in holding a good hand, but playing a good hand well." - William Smeathers

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 10:42 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2003 3:24 pm
Posts: 169
Location: ,
What are you building your boxes with? Treated lumber will leach those preservative chemicals into your boxes and plants.

It would be interesting to see any changes based on that one aspect.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 Post subject: School Gardens
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 11:05 pm 

Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 5:33 pm
Posts: 829
Location: Dallas,TX
I worked with the Dallas ISD for several years on garden programs and learned a lot about the laws regulating these programs. Just thought I'd save you some grief by sharing a little of what I learned.

To avoid any problems, let me urge you to get with the school's IPM (Integrated Pest Management) coordinator before you use any chemical of any kind on the gardens. It is actually illegal for you to use any kind of material recognized as a pesticide (that includes insecticides, miticides, rodenticides and herbicides) on a school property unless you are a licensed applicator. You could be fined. This includes fungicides and some types of fertilizers. And Rootone has a fungicide in it, so it is included.

You also want to check on the district's policy on the pressure-treated "green" CCA wood. Many districts have had it removed from their grounds and instituted new rules that forbid its use. Rock or steel borders hold up to kids' traffic well.

The organic products that are food material based; molasses, d-limonene/orange oil, cornmeal, baking soda, vinegar, etc. can be used without prior approval. Let me caution you that some children do react to cedar, so be careful if you use it as a mulch. Ask them if they are allergic if they are old enough to know. Vinegar can cause some kids to rash too. D-limonen is a solvent, so treat it like one...until you mix it with water and harmlessly pour it out on the ground!

For plant selection, try to get a copy of the Texas Smartcscape CD as it is most helpful with sun/shade, watering levels, size and bloom information and photos. Howard's book Plants for Texas is great too. I had kids grow carrots and they LOVED it.

You might incorporate the use of mulch vs. the lack of mulch as a part of your experiment. It so greatly affects compaction, erosion and moisture retention.

Pat yourself on the back, GREAT TEACHER! No matter whether the plants thrive or wilt, this program will do your kids a world of good, and they will always remember it. I still have kids tell me how much they enjoyed the programs, and that was years ago...they are in high school now.

I hope you find this material helpful. If you would like to talk more privately, feel free to PM me.

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