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Winter garden programming & season extension

seed saving in the winter

Seed saving at Winchester P.S. during garden club

Greetings y’all!

Ah yes, the first notable snowfall in Toronto befall the city last week (and more was dumped yesterday!). Thankfully, we have put hoop houses on many of our garden beds at all of the schools, to extend the life of some of the greens.

One might think that garden programming ends when it gets cold outside, but not true at all! In fact, not only are children able to extend the growing season with aforementioned hoop houses, made out of hula hoops, recycled telephone wire, thick clear plastic and office clips, but also seed more leafy greens, collect seeds for next spring, and continue composting.

Winter composting at school food garden

The neat thing about composting in the winter, is that if it stays active (i.e. hot!) with food waste from the school cafeteria, it releases a lot of steam which always amazes the children and keeps our worm friends warm and toasty in their squirms — that is what we call a cluster of worms that form a ball. And better yet, we will have beautiful fresh compost ready in early spring!

hoop houses on earthblock beds

Rose Ave. P.S. earth blocks

Petit Allan Gardens

École Gabrielle-Roy

On another note what makes the three new earth block beds (from our favourite sustainable builder andl farmer friend Henry from Fifth Wind) at Rose Avenue P.S.  especially delightful, apart from the fact that they will be able to support more sun-loving plants next year, is that they have taken over the space where there used to be a parking lot. Food plants 1, Automobiles 0.

As such, the gardens  remain a wonder in the winter. Children love peeking underneath the hoop houses to see if the seedlings have grown since the last time they checked and they love to crawl & hide behind bushes, and look around and see what life might still thrive under these cold conditions amongst the trees, shrubs, rocks and frozen plants. And we are also grateful for the volunteers who’ve been able to come out to help in outdoor programs!

Oh! I almost forgot to post the link to a video that Mehrdad, one of our 2010 OISE teacher candidates, made over the spring and summer. This video of School Food Gardens in East downtown Toronto shows how school food gardens addresses various food security issues. Please go to our YouTube link here. And maybe the video will warm you up a bit, putting you in that spring time/summer frame of mind. Although it is a beautiful winter day if you ask me!

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