Monday, February 24, 2014

Raised and Saved

Oh the possibilities

I've never been too fond of raised garden beds, but on a recent shopping excursion, I bumped into this stylish elevated garden bed. I imagined the convenience of someone short or in a wheel chair easily sowing and harvesting crops. This space saver system allows a gardener to plant indoors, outdoors and through the four seasons. I now see raised beds in a new light.

Other reasons for using a raised bed are:
  • Compact gardening
  • Less time consuming
  • Transportability of the bed
  • Less weeding
  • No till
  • Comfortable working height

Gardening is therapeutic

Save Your Rain

As a child, I so liked to catch raindrops on my tongue. Rainwater that is gathered and contained properly is a sustainable source of water. Rain barrels harvests and stores the rain for you. After catching the rain, you can use it for fun water activities, environmental experiments and education, car washing or in the garden. Among other practical reasons for rain saving. But harvesters beware! Rainwater harvesting is illegal in some communities. Adversaries claim that if rain or snowfall is captured, less water will flow to streams and aquifers where it is needed for wells and springs. Check local laws before purchasing a rain saver.

Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose

Selecting a Rain Barrel

Look for:
  •  High capacity container
  • Meshed screen that blocks debris
  • Brass spigot
  • Able to channel excess water to a desirable area


How to Collect Rainwater

  1. Collect run-off water in rain barrels or a large tank
  2. Install a rainwater system
  3. Create a rainwater garden

Sunday, February 23, 2014

From Transplant to Sustained Inclusion

Seedling Transplant

Seedling transplant involves moving a rooted plant from one place to another. They are transplanted to give them more growing space. Leaving the seedling in the crowded setting too long causes the seedling to fight for resources. Transplanting seedlings when they are small reduces the danger of transplant shock and should be done when:
  • True Leaves Form: As the seedling grows, the cotyledons will fall off and what are called the first true leaves will form. This is when your seedling begins actively photosynthesizing.  Use organic fertilizer or compost amendment during this occassion to encourage good roots and healthy growth.
  • Potting up: Seedlings can remain in their original containers or plant them in their permanent spots. It is common to move seedlings into a larger container once several sets of leaves have formed. This allows the roots more room to develop. .
  • Thinning: If more than one seedling is growing in the same immediate area, either separate the seedlings into containers or cut off all but the strongest seedling. Pulling out the extra seedlings, might hurt the roots of the strongest seedling.


Sustained Inclusion

The philosophy behind sustained inclusion is that every member of the group is dependent upon one another, for the success of the unit. There are diversities of administrations or operations among us, but one way for us to be successful. Some have the ability of genius thinking, others the strength of a beast, and yet some have the faith required to overcome great obstacles. The classroom, community and nations are comprised of diversity. If a member lacks, those who are proficient should come to the aid of, with a spirit of meekness. We are a permaculture of diverse seeds, but one harvest of life sustained.


Inclusion: the action or state of being included within a group or structure.  

Monoculture: the agricultural practice of producing or growing a single crop or plant species over a wide area and for a large number of consecutive years. 

 Permaculture: the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have diversity, stability and the resilience of natural ecosystems.

Benefits of Sustained Inclusion 
  1. Compassionate friendships
  2. Increased acceptance of diversity
  3. Peer role models for academic, social and behavior skills
  4. Accessibility and appreciation of all
  5. Enhanced skill acquisition  
  6. Greater flexibility, opportunity
  7. Higher expectations and resources for everyone
  8. Strengthened collaborations
  9. Heightened brotherly love
  10. Integrated communities

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Faithful Record As A Servant

This morning's investigation included the reading of "The Junkyard Wonders" by Patricia Polacco and serving others. The narrative is about a young girl who finds out her class at the new school is known as "The Junkyard," she is devastated. She moved from her old town so she wouldn't be in a special class anymore! But then she meets her teacher, the quirky and invincible Mrs. Peterson, and her classmates, an oddly brilliant group of students each with his or her own unique talent. And it is here in The Junkyard that Trisha learns the true meaning of genius, and that this group of misfits are, in fact wonders, all of them.

I especially like the excerpt "...everything that you think could be made into something new...forget what the object was, imagine what it could be." We encourage our emotional students to use their imagination to help them problem solve or to imagine being calm- forget about how negative your'e feeling right now and concentrate on your peaceful place.

 Audio: Book Reading, Part 1

Audio: Book Reading, Part 2

The weather was quite cold and stormy today. Our serving lesson communicated the unique differences and talents of our friends. Students took turns serving friends hot chocolate or a healthy snack. Mixing social skills with food makes for welcomed conversation.

Hot chocolate bar ideas at

Sesame Street Character themed fruit & veggie trays


Why Serve?

  • Make new friends
  • Make a difference in your community
  • Give back
  • Learn new things of interest

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Acts of An Apostle

Student Artist: age 14

Art Therapy

The American Art Therapy Association describes art therapy as "a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.

During transition into exercise class, a student that was sitting next to me quickly sketched the above drawing. Art therapy for her is so comforting and expressive, that it speaks volumes that words cannot. Art therapy is a fun way I like to introduce new words or build vocabulary words through a comic strip format.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself

Plants prosper when they are growing with their comrades, just as we do. From personal experience I want to share the joys of growing peppers (jalapeno, hot peppers and cayenne) with garlic. The pepper plants seen in these photos were sown January 2013, the garlic was sown October 2013. Growing garlic takes from 9-10 months to harvest one bulb from one clove, in the meantime the scapes are an enjoyable harvest to use in eggs, quesadillas, marinating and more.

February 17, 2014
 Garlic scape is the flowering part of the garlic plant. To assure an abundant harvest you want to cut the scapes back. By reducing the scape you are telling the plant to send all of it's energy into increasing the bulb size, rather than putting energy toward flowers and seed.

To cut your scape, concentrate on the thick center stalk, that will grow above the rest of the plant. Cut the stalk as far down as you can without cutting any leaves off. Scapes will regrow, so remember to check on the growth periodically.

February 17, 2014

February 17 ,2014
Not only are peppers and garlic astonishing companion plants but they also make great palatable companions to dishes. Bon appetit!

Good Companion Facts:

  • Both plants like same soil type and watering schedule
  • Companions deters pest problems
  • Companions provide beneficial bacteria 
  • Efficient use of space
  • Attract pollinators
  • Help each other grow!


Composting is the biological decomposition of organic waste such as certain foods or plant material. In the above pictures, green composting was used- the plants leaves are retained in the container on top of the existing soil.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Sower Went Out to Sow Dried Goji Berries

I went to the market today and couldn't help but ponder the thought of germinating goji berries, aka "wolf berries". Picking up a couple of berries from the bulk section, I headed home and started peeling them open right away. To my surprise the seeds came spilling out, right onto the plate. Seeing that they were exceptionally dry my next steps was to hydrate and sow seed. My procedures are simple and direct.


  • Goji or wolfberry seeds
  • Organic planting mix
  • Container
Note: My container did not come with holes, using a drill, I drilled two holes at the bottom.

     goji seeds & pod

    Soil & Container 

    5 Step Process
    1. Soak seeds: in 70 to 80 degrees F water over night. This will increase the germination process.
    2. Soil composition: combine sand with organic potting mix until it is very fine.
    3. Plant container in direct sunlight: plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in container, move container outside after the danger of frost has passed.
    4. Water regularly: spraying the seedlings with a mist sprayer
    5. Snip off the main stem just above third leaf when it appears. This will cause the plant to grow laterally as a bush rather than vertically as a tree. *bushy form will yield more berries than a taller plant.
    • Can grow up to 12 feet high and spread 6 feet wide
    • Overwinter 1st and 2nd year seedlings
    • Expect fruit in 4th year
    • Fast growing, vining shrub
    • Hardy in USDA zones 5-9 and readily adapt to most soils
    • Self-fertile 
    Goji Berry is a superfruit. Rich in antioxidants and proteins. The berries themselves are olive shaped, orange-red in color and somewhat tart. The perfect blend of deliciousness! 

    Friday, February 14, 2014

    Gifts of LOVE

    Flowers & Tomatoes: 2.14.2014

    Packaged Seeds

    We are always researching opportunities to sow seeds of love. During our recent gathering event, a board member motioned donating plants to worthy causes. At the moment, the weather here is brutally cold and the ground is frozen stiff. Voila! The perfect conditions to sow seeds indoors for any cause!  On February 13th, we sowed seed of Columbine, Bachelor Button, Candytuft, Beefsteak, Delphinium and Petunias into 34 containers. All of which are expected to be donated to charity & allies. Although the germination rates very greatly from plant to plant, our seedlings should be teenagers by the May delivery date- at least 6-10 inches tall.

    Saved Seeds

    Sowing pomegranate and lemon seeds are fun and easy. Shortly after the new year, we ate pomegranate and made lemonade. Then decided to place the seeds in dirt. They came up happy!

    Lemon seeds: sowed January, 2014
    Pomegranate seeds: sowed January, 2014


    • Seeds
    • Organic planting mix
    • Container
    Note: If containers did not come with holes, use a drill, and drill ample holes at the bottom for drainage.

     Simple 5 Step Process
    1. Soak seeds: in 70 to 80 degrees F water over night. This will increase the germination process.
    2. Soil composition: combine sand with organic potting mix until it is very fine.
    3. Plant container in direct sunlight: plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in container, move container outside after the danger of frost has passed.
    4. Water regularly: spraying the seedlings with a mist sprayer

    Our sowing techniques also included sowing in dark places-cabinet or establishing terrarium containers. Watering at sow and again a week or two later. Allow good aeration to avoid mold, fungus and wet feet. Be sure to be patient not to over handle or over water too frequently. Seed house temperature @68 degrees.