Lots happening in the gardens at Freedom Shores Elementary. We welcome visitors between 7:30 and 8:00 each morning. Garden Club members would love to show you around.
The 8-bed Wonders of Learning garden is flourishing. We’ve already harvested turnips, wax beans and purple green beans. The sunflowers, nasturtium, zinnia, marigold and Echinacea are busy going about their important work of attracting pollinators. The loofah and birdhouse gourd vines are full of blooms and maturing fruit. We have a loofah that is already over a foot long!
All 2nd grade students in their STEM Lab rotation with Mrs. Beesley have planted their seed tapes. Prior to planting the students hypothesized what type of seeds they were given and drew them in their journals. Then each class, days 1 -8, planted the west side of each raised bed. Garden Club members planted the east side of each bed.
The great garden pest hunt is in full swing. We’re scanning tomato leaves for eggs and munching caterpillars every day. We’re hopeful the fruit will ripen soon (before the caterpillars munch it all up)!
The Tower Garden is growing especially well this year. It is planted with cherry tomato, bee balm, two types of mint, eggplant, basil, dill and nasturtium. Garden Club members are responsible for filling the reservoir and checking and balancing ph.
The Butterfly Garden is a sight to behold! We’ve seen dozens of species flying around and many have completed their metamorphosis in the garden. Even in winter there is always something blooming in the butterfly garden. Right now the low rattlebox and blackbead are full of blooms. All of the plants in the butterfly garden are native so they are made to do well in our area. If you are interested in adding natives to your hard, which take less water and are more resistant to disease, visit our friend Carl at Meadow Beauty nursery. Carl designed and helped our Soaring Eagles plant the butterfly garden and continues to be a resource for us. Check out their website at: http://meadowbeautynursery.com/
Our intrepid grandpa volunteer, Bumpa, continues to be a wonder with cuttings! The areas in front of the classroom villas adjacent to the 8-bed garden used to be filled with oyster plant and alocasia and weeds. Bumpa has nurtured cuttings from the butterfly garden and is moving them to these areas. One small area at a time is turning into more habitat for our insect and animal friends.
The Edible Forest was started in a small way last year with the addition of 2 banana plants to an area of existing loquats. This year we have a very committed, passionate volunteer who has taken on the project. Garden Club students have placed lovely stepping-stones and plans are under way to add irrigation which will be used until our new plants have taken hold. We went back to our friend Carl at Meadow Beauty to find edible native plants and friend and families of Freedom Shores have donated fruit trees and vines.
Garden Club members planted a native short-leaf fig tree for Florida Arbor Day this month. Short-leaf fig’s provide food and cover for a wide range of insects and animals.
Also this month the Audubon Society of the Everglades provided funds for Project Perch to install a burrowing owl habitat on school grounds. FSE students signed the burrow, dug the trench and covered the entrance with sand. We’re hoping for burrowing owls find it and decide to stay at Freedom Shores.
Whew! Amazing what determined, dedicated students (and teachers and volunteers!) can do in those few minutes before morning class begins. Want to be part of the fun or just come check it out? Post a response to this blog and we’ll make it happen!
Wish List: Melaleuca mulch (no red please). The Edible Forest has a large area that needs mulch. If you can help us out, post a response to the blog.
We’ll be posting information soon about FSE’s new initiative, ‘Heart of the Eagle’, a program that connects our Soaring Eagles with the community to provide relief and help to those in need. In the meantime, FSE families can log on to their Edline and click on ‘Go Green Blog’ on the Freedom Shores Edline homepage to learn more about this wonderful opportunity and all the other Go Green projects at school.
Follow this blog to keep updated or FSE Science Lab’s Twitter at: @FSE_ScienceLab
Another great Twitter account to follow is Freedom Shores at:@Freedom_Shores
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” — Unknown