Nurturing the Eagle Nest

Working together to beautify the school habitat for our soaring eagles!

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Welcome helpers!

Final preparations are underway for a Garden Party to honor sponsors, families and friends and their hard work and celebrate our inaugural year.  Almost all of our community partner sponsors have not seen our garden in person.  We are so excited to share what we have done with them.  But, a lot of work remains to prepare the space.  A volunteer spent time today freshening up our mural to blend more naturally with the glass mulch river.


Thank you Mrs. Kahn!

Garden Club members and other FSES students have been pulling weeds, moving mulch, returning glass, removing litter and always, always, always picking off nuisance bugs.  We’ve seen green lacewings in the garden but have yet to find their telltale eggs.


Our cardinal friend kept flitting around this morning, checking on progress. Lots of loud chirping, maybe he’s impressed?

Students in 1st grade STEM classes have been touring the garden and thinking about what they’d like to do when they become the gardeners in 2nd grade.  Tomato, strawberry, watermelon and carrot were common requests for planting next year.  Kindergarten is also visiting the garden and becoming familiar with the space.  Lots of plans for next year!

Children seldom forget a direct experience.

– Joseph Cornell


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More than food

Students visiting the garden come to learn, observe and do a little socializing in the morning.  It is a neutral place where they are all learning and sharing new information.  Is that a good bug?  Why is the garden bean growing NOW instead of months ago?  Why don’t we pull out the brown leaves on the gourd vine?  When can I harvest a carrot?  The questions come fast and thick in the morning.


Garden time with friends.

Some students need a little time, perhaps while they observe a pill bug crawling on their arm or a green anole clinging to their shirt, to wake up and get ready to head to class.  Observing students who wouldn’t normally interact having a conversation about the number and types of bees buzzing around the sunflowers is a delight to the adults in attendance.  Sharing the moment of pride when a brave 2nd grader removes a leaf-footed bug for the first time to a crowd of amazed 4th graders that had been hesitant to try the same trick.  Timing a photo at the exact right moment when she bursts into a huge smile and holds up her prize.


A proud accomplishment.

Our garden is so much more than a place to grow food.  Come and see.


Green anole spotted often on the gourd vine (and many young green anoles too!)

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

Marcus Tullius Cicero



Award Winning Garden! And….yep, bugs.

Golden Shovel

“Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam recognizes 10 exceptional school gardens with the inaugural Florida Farm to School “Golden Shovel” Awards.”  Read on – – Golden Shovel Press Release.

We are so proud to receive this award and have many people to thank.  Luckily we started this blog as a sort of journal, a place to document progress and thank sponsors along the way.  Read back to the beginning and remember all the wonderful businesses that have contributed to the success of our school garden.  The Golden Shovel will be on display at the upcoming Garden Party held next week to honor sponsors and garden friends and show off our award-winning garden.


The learning related to garden pests and insect friends is endless.  It is hard to watch a sunflower die and turn brown, its natural life-cycle, but when you do you see aphids and every stage of the life-cycle of ladybugs.  Every student in garden can tell you about this bug:


Larval ladybug – voracious aphid muncher

Also on a past its prime sunflower you’ll find this fellow:


Leaf-footed bug – piercing, sucking on the sunflowers

The leaf-footed bug is big.  And more than a little scary looking, and it flies.  But it doesn’t have mouth parts that can hurt the students and after they hear this they are more than happy to pick them off the developing sunflower seeds and deliver them to the Bucket of Doom (Cup of Doom was too small!).

Another friend chewing on soft-bodied aphids:

mealybug destroyer

Mealy-bug destroyer – great name

Other bugs in the area – weevils, spittlebugs, squash bugs and grasshoppers.  The students also spotted some lacewing eggs and several green lynx spiders.  The garden isn’t a place for the bug squeamish.  Every day another student calls out ‘What is this?” and off we go learning about the new find and how it is managed.  We don’t use sprays or chemicals of any kind for bug control, where is the learning in that?  We pick off offenders, and let our garden friend insects do their jobs.

Beans finally and other produce

Garden beans and snap peas sown in January are climbing up and back over the trellises and are producing giant, beautiful (the 2nd grade student’s word) garden beans.  We see some carrots getting close too.  Everyone is waiting to pull a carrot. The eggplant in Bed 7 is developing lovely purple globes.  We’re on the lookout for eggplant loving families as eggplants are perennials in Florida.

DSC05385Other perennials that will need summer foster homes – basil and rosemary.

Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.  E.O. Wilson

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Bean Time & Bug City

2nd grade STEM farmers/gardeners have been learning all about beans.  Red kidney beans to be exact.  Students have explored a dry bean, dissected a soaked bean, observe growth and learned all the vocabulary involved.  Their journals include a very detailed bean diagram.


Can you point to the cotyledon?

Aphids, ladybugs of all stages, leaf-footed bugs, caterpillars galore, bees, ants, roly-poly/pillbugs, flat worms and earthworms.  This is a by no means an all-inclusive list of the types of bugs we are finding in the garden.  Because we don’t spray we must depend on natural predators.  The students are adept at picking off destructive caterpillars and flat worms, they don’t shrink at this duty.


There’s never just 1 little green caterpillar.

Harvest continues with more gourds and a radish seed pods.  Two large, lovely green cabbages, ready for harvest, have mysteriously disappeared from Bed 4.  We continue to communicate that harvesting is for the students!

Want to help pick off worms?  Having a garden story or photo to share?  Please comment and let us know!  Big news in the next post – stay tuned!
 “To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”

Mohandas K. Gandhi