As my love of gardening has grown, I’ve come to despise cold weather. Watching plants shrivel and die is akin to watching someone you love walk away. Sure…you know they’ll be back, but the knowledge of their departure hits you in the feels. Although I know winter is a time for planning (and indoor gardening), there’s nothing like digging your fingers into soil, warmed by the sun, as a breeze swirls around the wisps of hair surrounding your face…
(*sigh) I miss it so much already.
But as the song says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven, (turn, turn, turn)…” So as the seconds, minutes, and hours pass…as we change the calendar, and the darkness covers us earlier, I exhale and accept the change of seasons. Not only in nature, but within myself.
I began this blog as a record of my transition to becoming a gardener. I was a woman obsessed with shopping for shoes & clothes, but as that season came to an end, a new season including began to rise. I began to realize that my life was NOT going according to plan. I began to realize that change is inevitable. I began to realize that no matter how much I hate it, there will be cold days. There will be cold days & icy days & rainy days. There will be tornadoes & hurricanes & blizzards…but that it is a necessary happening. I am realizing that this season is only at its beginning, and I will only rise to welcome it. So, as the weather grows colder outside, and as I cringe every time I look at the forecast (HOPING for an unusually warm day) the clouds are clearing, and the purpose under heaven is making a turn as I encounter this new season as my “…time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together.”
So walk into this new season with me. Perhaps you will find your new season as well…
Excuses are like belly buttons–we all have one. The most frequent excuse I hear for why someone doesn’t garden, is lack of time. But, being a busy working single Mom of two, I easily pop a pin in that balloon of an excuse.
Yes, some plants and crops require more attention than others. Yes, some plants are needy and require consistent watering to get established. No, that doesn’t mean you need to avoid gardening all together.
Here’s a few ideas to try if you want to garden but feel you might be too busy.
Meadow or Pollinator garden– This garden is a lazy gardeners dream and often require minimal commitment and investment. Your yard doesn’t have to be just a lawn which lacks the ability to absorb considerable water, doesn’t provide food, and doesn’t provide habitat to our needed pollinators. You can set aside an area as small as 10×10 (100 square feet) and choose not to mow. This area will often repopulate itself with local native plants, simply through you not mowing. If you want to rush the process, and increase the diversity of the plants, you can spread soil directly over top of your lawn (some people choose to use a sod cutter to get rid of the grass, others choose to put cardboard down and pile new dirt directly on top of the cardboard) and sow native seeds. Depending on your area, you can plant various nectar sources and host plants, such as butterfly weed, milkweed, spicebush, yarrow, carrot, fennel, parsley, and coneflower. Once seeds germinate or plants are established, they need little attention, aside from a Spring clean up if needed. Plants native to your area, are likely to need less attention.
Planting en masse–This year we sowed poppy seeds en masse for the first time ever. It was such a striking sight and required little attention.
We spread soil at least 4 inches thick over the soil and grass. We then lightly raked the area and scattered poppy seeds in both the winter and the beginning of spring. Our poppy garden was incredibly striking, and all we did was occasionally put the sprinkler on it, paying more attention to young poppy seedlings. In summer, we planted an array of cosmos and zinnias. There are so many possibilities with planting seeds en masse!
Portable gardens– Our partner Gardenuity offers multiple options that offer flexibility. Do you use lots of garlic? Or maybe you love salad and want to grow a salad container garden? With the temperature extremes in NJ, you can lose crops if you don’t have the right set up for hot and cool weather plants. But if you plant salad or garlic in movable bags and containers, you can keep your crops healthier and assure they don’t die out with a premature frost or extreme weather event. We’re really excited to try Gardenuity’s Garlic planter!
Microgreens–Have you ever tried microgreens? These nutrient packed baby greens are popping up in upscale and trendy food markets and restaurants everywhere. You can literally plant microgreens after soaking seeds, water daily, and harvest for salad in 10 days or less–all from the comfort of a sunny windowsill in your home. We grow our microgreens in our porch pots throughout the summer, adding them to salads, sandwiches, and eggs. Radish and leafy greens are our faves so far!
Hydroponics– There are a ton of hydroponic systems out there! Now, many do require more of an investment up front, but considering it is reusable and does the watering for you, what’s not to like? You can even save money if you prefer to make your own system, but that will require time to research and build to your needs. This can be used indoors or out, depending your set up and location.
Self watering greenhouses– Have you seen our partner Vegepod? They offer self-watering greenhouses of different sizes. We love this option in NJ where the weather can be extreme at times. Our garden club kids sow seeds, water, and harvest food from our Vegepod like pros! The greenhouse helps keep moisture in when needed, but also allows rain and sunlight in. Bonus feature is it protects food from critters and deer.
These are just a few ideas to get the creative wheels turning for Fall and beyond! We can’t wait to show you more! Keep following @bullockgarden across social media for more details!
It’s nearly 2am and while I should be fast asleep, I’m not.
Instead, I’m obsessing about the deadline I’ve set for myself: To release the new BGP blog every Tuesday. I can’t help it…my mind is racing over all the events that have led us to this point…
I had a crazy idea to start a garden at my school so the kids would have an opportunity to participate in learning outside of the four walls of the classroom.
That idea was crazy because I had NO CLUE how to garden but neither did the group of colleagues/friends who decided to help (birds of a feather!).
I asked Ahmed Hassan, the original Yard Crasher, to help… and he did, by making me research & read about gardening, gardening with children, & a non-traditional educator’s view of learning.
Ahmed & friends from around the country (including local Landscaper Mike Pasquarello & Elite Landscaping) descended upon Glassboro to help build the Bullock Children’s Garden, and we did, in 2 DAYS!
The Garden has been LOVED by the children ever since! It is theirs & they belong to it!
Watching the children interact with and enjoy their Garden has been an inspiration! As we share the story of Bullock Garden with other educators we help them so they too can grow gardens.
I gathered a group of superheroes who came together to help me create a nonprofit so we can help other schools grow gardens.
Simple… but not really. In between each of those spaces and lines is a 5-year journeyof struggle, growth, cutting, flourishing, and cyclical movement repeating without end, mirroring the journey of a seed. FYI, nothing of great worth comes easy. Joining me in this journey are eight of the most fabulous, incredible, passionate women, who believe all children deserve the right and opportunity to engage with a garden at school in order to explore and expand their learning/career opportunities. These amazing pillars in their careers, communities, and homes are the soil, sunshine, and water that are essential for the seed to survive. Without this incomparable group of women, The Bullock Garden Project, Inc. would not be able to provide assistance to schools across the United States and around the globe.
I hope you take the opportunity to peruse our website and excuse its “Under Construction” appearance. Growth can occur quickly, and we are making moves to keep up with it!
Thank you for joining us on this journey. We encourage and look forward to your comments and feedback as we create our BGP Community! I hope you will take a moment & subscribe to this blog. We have some wonderful guest bloggers & vloggers lined up to bring you weekly content, focused on the MANY aspects of school gardening with children.