Friday, 17 May 2013

Spring at West Humber Collegiate Institute

The growing season is off to a great start at West Humber Collegiate Institute. This is the fourth year PACT has been active at WHCI and we are so excited for the upcoming spring and summer. The wooden-fenced garden has a beautiful shed and benches made by the school’s workshop classes. It’s a warm and inviting space, perfect for learning, lunching, and enjoying these new sunny days.

Straw-covered cabbage beds getting lots of sunshine!

We’ve been busy since April prepping beds, turning the soil, adding compost, and sneaking in a few extra beds here and there so that we have more space for crops. Battling weeds and grass has been an adventure (although the yellow dandelions are quite beautiful this time of year), but now we’re ready for hot weather crop planting (tomatoes!) as well and we can’t wait to get those fast-growing seedlings out of the greenhouse and into the ground.  Some of our earlier seedlings have been struggling in the chilly nights, but hopefully the warm weather is here to stay. We have just received some native pollinator plants, including bergamot and aster, which we will also be planting soon.

Our dedicated group of after school volunteers have helped us plant a variety of seeds, as well as cabbage and kale seedlings, and we have all become experts in proper plant spacing. A class also came out after lunch and planted beans all along the edges of the garden, which will grow tall and strong, thanks to the trellised fences around the garden, and add nitrogen to the soil. It’s always a pleasure when we can get our hands in the soil and make things happen together in this space.

3-foot tall tomato seedlings in the greenhouse
We also have some some beautiful hand-painted signs to help us keep track of what's growing!

A huge thank you is due to everyone who has helped out in the last few weeks to get the beds ready (especially in this unpredictable weather), it was hard work but the space has truly transformed!

A short update from Elmbank Junior Middle School: students and teachers at Elmbank are counting the days until they can get out to their new garden. Preparation is underway and as soon as our raised beds arrive we can jumpstart work on the site. Students in grade 4 got to prepare seed “pockets” (newspaper tubes filled with soil with an individual seed in each) with their grade 7 reading buddies this week, and hopefully we’ll be able to plant them soon!

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