Thursday, April 16, 2015

How Many Shovels Does It Take?

We were back at Middlebrook Farm School today to take advantage of the beautiful weather, and we were able to get a lot accomplished.  One thing I was proud of today was figuring out exactly how many shovels full of dirt it takes to fill one of our 8'x4' boxes (see, we can include math).  Here it is:
Eleven shovels full of dirt in each wheel barrow multiplied by ten wheel barrows full to fill a box equals one hundred and ten shovels full of dirt for every box (I think my math is correct).
We had a lot of help today from Maryn who did some transplanting and irrigation work.

We had some leftover lumber so we built a garden box for her and her sister to play with.
My main goal today was to build two more 8'x4' boxes and get them filled (see the above word problem for how many licks it takes to get to the center of that Tootsie Pop).  

And here is the view from above.
While I worked on building and filling the new boxes and Maryn worked on watering, Heather worked on lining our pallet composter with narrow wire mesh so we can hold in the material.
We also reorganized the composting situation to give it a more efficient work flow and better access to the spout on the front of the basin under the black composting tumbler.  Inside there collects the drippings from the compost called "compost tea" and this is some magical stuff for the garden.
While I was on the roof getting the above aerial shot of the garden I took a few others.  Ever since I first started using these courtyards for gardening back in 2007 I have had a vision of working towards a four season harvest plan.  Not that we would be harvesting warm weather crops like tomatoes and eggplants in the middle of winter, but there are crops that can be cultivated through the colder months.  See how it can be done (in Maine of all places!) on Four Season Farm where Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman (any relation to Principal Coleman?) have been nationally recognized for their success at sustainable, year-round agricultural practices.  One thing that would be necessary for this to be successful is a greenhouse, and I have had the perfect spot picked out for one since I first turned over the soil at Middlebrook Farm School.  Here it is...
With southern exposure for ideal sunlight and the possibility to incorporate those windows so students, teachers, and everyone else could see what is happening makes it a spot that is really worth thinking about for a greenhouse.  And from what I hear those sea grasses would not be missed.  It took Mr. Amaral and his crew the last three days to cut those grasses back.

Also, while I was up on the roof, why are there no solar panels on these window structures?
One of the most rewarding parts of working in the garden is being able to sit quietly after getting your hands dirty and take some time to watch it all grow.  We had an extra pallet and some more leftover lumber so we built a bench...
...and here I am trying it out.  It works like a charm and will be a nice spot to have a cup of coffee and ponder the depth and breadth of possibilities coming out of the gardens.
Also, here are some of the things you can watch grow.
One of our earthworm friends.
Radish seedlings (or maybe pak choi cabbage).
Spinach seedlings.
The Brussel sprout plant from last season who seems to want to come back.
Garlic sprouts.

That is about it for today.  Be sure to visit if you are in the neighborhood and give our bench a try.  Also, check out the rest of our Middlebrook Farm School blog posts at