Posted by: csdailyblog | July 18, 2010

The New Conserve School Garden Blooms

We’ve been hard at work putting our new garden in place this summer with the guidance of our Stewardship Coordinator,  Jean Haack. This new location for our school community garden is sunnier, larger, and closer to the residence houses, with lots of room for explansion over the years. The fence around the old baseball field we’re converting into the new garden is great for keeping deer and other critters away, and the poor soil (compacted clay) provides a great opportunity to learn, with students, which techniques work best for reclaiming the land and re-invigorating the soil. So far we’ve dealt with the soil issue by installing raised beds, which we’ve filled with a combination of  topsoil and compost. In addition, this spring, we broadcast seeds of “claybuster” native plants on the areas that are not yet in cultivation.  Some of the seeds were collected on campus by students last fall and others were donated by Prairie Nursery of Westfield, Wisconsin — so, thank you, Prairie Nursery!

The beds in the vegetable garden are divided up between student beds and staff/resident beds. The student vegetable beds were planted in the spring by students and field instructors, and Jean has taken over their care until student gardeners join us this fall. The butterfly garden beds were planted by students in the spring, and, as more beds were added this summer, by Jean, Science Teacher Andy Milbauer, and me.

Here are some before and after photos:

The ballfield stands empy in early spring, with a pile of bed frames to the left, and piles of compost and wood chips in the back.

In mid-July, the beds overflow with vegetables and flowers.

In May, Stewardship Coordinator Jean Haack and Director of Outdoor Programs Cathy Palmer measure and lay out the raised beds in the shape of a butterfly for the first set of beds in the butterfly garden.

In mid-July, the butterfly beds bloom with butterfly host plants wild lupine, marsh milkweed, and butterfly weed, and nectar plants zinnias, pentas, and verbena. Asters and goldenrod, fall nectar plants, are beginning to show buds.

 More photos from the gardens:

These wild lupines, which students raised from seed and planted this spring, surprised us all by blooming profusely starting in late June. Usually wild lupines only bloom in their second year of growth.

A brocolli plant is just beginning to form its head at the bast of its leaves.

Orange marigolds peek out from behind two green tomatoes.

Magenta cosmos flowers contrast with a bed of blue-green brocolli and lighter green tomatoes in cages.

A tiny monarch larva, under an inch in length, chews on a marsh milkweed leaf in one of our raised beds. It will triple in size before it forms a chrysalis for its tranformation into a butterfly. Read more about our monarch butterfly research in our next blog entry.

 Mary Anna

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