Mari's Dirty Fingers

A Newbie's Garden Experiment

I’m Gonna Make You Purty

on March 13, 2013
cleared grass and newly planted native plants

cleared grass and newly planted native plants

There was a different principal last year at the school where I do my garden volunteering.  She was very supportive of developing the neglected garden into a teaching tool.  She pretty much gave us the thumbs up for all the ideas we came up with.  She gave us permission to rip out 200 square feet of  lawn to make a CA native plant garden using donated cement cylinders and free mulch.  She let us pull out another section of lawn to make pumpkin and watermelon mounds.  The only thing she ever complained about was the untidy look that the garden area had.

The vegetable boxes and paths where overgrown with crab grass.  Many of the trees, shrubs, and bushes were in desperate need of trimming.  Weeds were growing and flowering all around. We did eventually get all of that cleaned up with the help of students, parents, and teachers.  Even so, I wanted to do some additional beautification to serve as a Thank You for all the principal’s support.

The first thing I did was make garden signs using scrap pieces of wood and craft paint.  I bought some cutesy painted wood decorations and glued them on.  The most time consuming part was brushing on the 3 coats of urethane because they needed 2 hours between coats to dry.




Cute right? The CA native plant sign tells visitors what’s going on in that area. The top most picture is from when we first planted almost a year ago.  The plants are much bigger now and are starting to bloom.  I can’t wait until the spring starts and the plants really start to show off.

With the vegetable garden sign I was trying to give the kids a sense of ownership and pride.  I thought this was important because there had been some vandalism in the garden.  There was graffiti on the benches where the kids wrote their journal observations.  Parents would take the tomatoes and lemons before the students could harvest them.  Once, someone walked through all the garden boxes compacting the soil and killing some young sprouts.  From the small size of the footprints it was probably one of the school’s students.  I decided to make smaller signs with the name of the teacher whose class worked that box.  Signs also had to be made asking that the vegetables not be picked.  Overall the parents and students have been much more respectful of the garden.

Steve protector of garden

Steve protector of the garden

I also wanted to include the students in the garden beautification.  We made a scarecrow named Steve.  The students decorated his shirt, dressed, and stuffed him.  We are going to work on getting Steve a scarecrow girlfriend to protect the corn that we just planted this week.

There’s a lot of other stuff on the planning board.  I want to put up a couple of picket fences to keep parents and kids from trampling on our veggies.  We’ll reuse some old fences that need repainting.  I’ll get the kids to paint them.  I also want to make some of those great topsy turvy pot towers.

Do you have any neat ideas for the garden that can be done with a whole bunch of school children?  If so, please share them in the comment section.


One response to “I’m Gonna Make You Purty

  1. Gloria says:

    Just beautiful …<3

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