Ashcroft Communities in Bloom members were at Desert Sands Community School on May 4 for a planting project with the Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes. We have been doing this project for several years but this year, with the change of schools, we changed up the format a little.
New raised-bed planters were constructed and placed at the front of the school. In one planter students planted potatoes, and in the other they planted sunflowers. The seed potatoes are placed on a thin layer of soil and then covered by about 18 inches of straw. The potatoes grow through the straw, and in the fall the class harvests the potatoes by pulling away the straw to find the potatoes underneath.
Teacher Megan Marlow has developed a whole unit of study around the growing of potatoes, and the children learn about the “eyes” on the potatoes and how they grow. When it’s time to harvest them students count the potatoes, weigh them, and finally have a day where the potatoes are cooked in a variety of different ways.
This year, rather than planting sunflower seeds the children were able to plant actual seedlings, provided by CiB, in the soil. They learned how to dig the hole and put the plant in it, then fill it and tamp with dirt. Because the plants were quite tall already they had to be staked, so the children helped tie them up as well.
The students will be able to observe the changes in the plants as they grow, and when they return to school the sunflowers should be blooming. There are several varieties in the raised bed, so it will be interesting to see the different sizes, shapes and colours.
Thank you to Desert Hills for the donation of the seed potatoes and soil, Susan Schalles for the donation of soil, and the composting facility for the straw.