Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Junior Gardeners Program A Popular Activity at TBE

For the Junior Gardeners at Tommie Barfield Elementary School (TBE), there is no such things as a “black thumb.” With the use of earth boxes and working with the Calusa Garden Club members as mentors, the participants of the Junior Gardeners Program can’t go wrong.

The earth boxes were a big hit last year in the TBE after school enrichment program. This year, the Calusa Garden Club brought them back, with a few tweaks. Gardens help teach young kids where their food comes from and how they can eat healthier. The students enjoy the outdoor activity while learning about the plants in their assigned earth boxes. They also learn what makes the plants grow.

No worries – with earth boxes, every student at TBE has a green thumb. Sue Oldershaw of the Calusa Garden Club explained the use of the earth boxes to the new students. For the students who participated last year, this served as a refresher course.

Sue Oldershaw told the students, “All you need for your earth box is sun, air, water and fertilizer and you will have a good harvest.”

Everything is included with the earth box kit except the soil. The planter comes with a watering tube, a set of caster wheels for easy moving, fertilizer, dolomite and plastic cover. The plastic cover keeps in moisture. The instructions explain exactly how to add the dolomite and fertilizer into the soil, where to plant, and how to water. And the best part – no weeding!

Something new this year is the grouping of the plants assigned in the earth boxes. Each student was assigned an earth box in groups of threes. Each group was assigned a planting category. For example, the Pizza Garden was assigned to Calvin Grifoni, Samuel Montgomery and Sebastian Ramirez. Their earth boxes had plants that would go well with pizza, such as peppers, tomatoes and herbs.

Calusa member, Marianne Foley with Gavin Swift (Squash) and the Herb Section with Natalie Arguelles and Samantha Tegrotenhuis.

The Salad Garden was assigned to Kyleigh Haueter, Ava Richardson and Hanna Ali. The Salsa Garden was assigned to Skylar Lynn, Caleb Schemel and Peyton Reed. The Stir-Fry Garden was assigned to Kathleen Hamilton, Ella Lindgren, Jacquelin Miller and Palen Lindgren.

Natalie Arguelles and Samantha Tegrotenhuis were assigned the Herb Garden, and they proceeded to name their plants. Natalie planted “Baby the Basil” and “Olivia, the Cuban Oregano,” while Samantha planted “Kloe the Chive” and “Tafara the Thai Basil.”

The earth boxes are planted thanks to the Calusa Garden Club members present at the October planting: Sue Oldershaw, Donna Kay, Marianne Foley, Susan Neustadt, Bruce Neustadt, Opi DeFalco, Bernadette Longo, Tiki Finney and Maria Lamb.

For those at home, here are fall suggestions for your earth boxes: Collards, arugula, brussel sprouts, turnips, chard, spinach and lettuce; for winter: Garlic, spinach, basil, ginger and bell peppers.      

Junior Gardeners meet the first Wednesday of each month, October through May at 2:45 PM at Tommie Barfield Elementary School.

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