Sow There! Garden victories and small, helping hands, April 26, 2019

Garden victories and small, helping hands | Sow There!

For some reason, most of the cartons we collect in my classroom are from chocolate milk. (photo by Heather Hacking)
April 26, 2019 at 2:20 am
There is plenty of star jasmin in my neighbor’s yard for sharing. (photo by Heather Hacking)

With very little thought, and even fewer options, I’ve found a solution to gardening after the attack of the voracious snails.

Plant more seeds.

Planting is a fairly easy task when you have lots of little hands to help.

My class has time in the garden one day every other week. However, I’ve found I have no problem recruiting volunteers when I head out to the planting table after the final bell. Several of my children stay for afterschool programs. Talon is almost always eager to get his hands dirty. He’ll get them clean as well, and has learned washing out milk containers is fun.

This week, I strategically waited until the afterschool group was finished making slime. You never know. Some of those children may have preferred working in dirt vs. rolling in goo, but I did not want to risk rejection.

Tuesday, I had kids ranging from 5-12 scooping and poking at the soil.

Within minutes, we had filled all the pint-sized milk cartons I had collected throughout the day, and transplanted dozens of tomatoes into new cardboard homes. I’m so glad children like drinking milk.

My friend Tollie likes to keep the afterschool garden crew posted on how many ladybugs she finds on the plants. At one point, she had six critters crawling up her little arm. I’m glad she loves her job, because she’s a little young to handle tender young plants.

The slightly-older workers learned the economy of dividing garden tasks. As one scooped 2 inches of soil into containers, another wrote the plant name on popsicle sticks. Others poked seeds of lettuce 1/8 of an inch into fresh soil. My job was to gently remove the young tomatoes from the plastic six-packs.

It’s refreshing to see how much children learn without guidance. Collin, for example, effortlessly located the snail shack in the cracks between the wooden raised bed. I will use that information strategically.

One big bummer is that when I get home, I look around my own yard and wish I had about five sets of hands to make a dent on my home gardening to-do list.

Star Jasmine

Now is a good time for making cuttings of star jasmine. Before moving into my little cottage, I lived in the little cottage directly next door. Years ago, I planted a star jasmine on the arbor.

The arbor rotted away long ago, but the star jasmine is now a happy tangle with nothing to climb. I still consider it “my jasmine” even though it’s technically in my neighbor’s yard.

Last spring, soon after the plant flowered, I cut away some new growth. I dipped these in rooting hormone and placed them in 1-gallon plastic pots. To increase my odds, I planted several.

Somehow, I managed to keep these watered all last summer and through the winter. They were carefully protected from sun under a green resin bench.

For more detailed instructions on growing jasmine from cuttings:

At least three of these cuttings survived. Even more amazingly, I remembered they were under the bench.

Room to roam

I knew just the place for them to grow.

Last summer, I spent an amazing amount of time digging out English Ivy that had devoured a patch of my cyclone fence. I left the 2-inch “stump” that had once been the ivy. I like to walk by now and again and laugh about my victory over nature. If you’ve ever tried to destroy ivy, you know why I feel justified in gloating.

This week, I plunked the star jasmine in the ground about 10 feet away from the ivy gravesite. Only a few days have gone by, but already the jasmine is finding a way to climb the thin metal.

As for the jasmine in my neighbor’s yard? There’s plenty. I snipped a few fresh tendrils and am hoping I can propagate more jasmine for next year. Sure, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and purchased three mature plants at a local nursery. Yet, aren’t delayed victories part of the reason we love gardening?

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