When I told the kids in my section of VeggieTime this afternoon that we'd be having our first garden day of the season, the high-pitched squeals of excitement coming from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders moved like a wave through the group. Suddenly everyone had to use the bathroom, though I suspect some of the girls needed to check their hair since they saw me toting a camera today.
"Okay, okay, let's make sure everyone who needs to use the restroom does that first, then I'm going to need some help getting all of this stuff back outside. Hey, stop fiddling with that trowel -- put it back. Now, let's hope it doesn't decide to rain again." I crossed my fingers, and we piled into the elevator with two carts filled with compost, seeds, gloves, and garden tools. (It never ceases to amaze me how exciting using the school elevator is for elementary schoolers. Why is that?)
We made our way out to the furthest two raised garden beds and I explained the first task: remove last season's dead plants. Boy did they love pulling things out of the beds.
With minimal training, I think some of them could earn at least a silver medal if unearthing plants ever becomes an Olympic sport. (I've heard talk of yoga making it into the Olympics one day, so you never know.) I mean, there were some BIG roots in there. One in particular took six different people loosening things up to finally get it out! "Look what I did!" I heard from across the garden. "No, look what I did!" And another. And another. Here is the victorious team of root pullers -- they're tougher and more determined than those beguiling smiles might suggest:
By the handful or the armload, all of our plant scraps went down the hill, through the snow and puddles, and into the compost bins:
Then it was time to mix in some aged compost and get planting!
If I was surprised by how much they enjoyed pulling up plants, I was downright astounded by how much they loved digging, finding any excuse to use a trowel or a hand fork to... well... to move soil around. Most of it stayed in the beds. And we planted a few packets of seeds and watered everything using recycled milk carton "watering cans."
In a month or two, with decent weather, periodic watering, and a little luck, we should have some spinach, kale, beets, carrots, and swiss chard to nibble on. Mmmm, eating: my favorite part of gardening.