Our new bean tunnel is going to last more than a month because Ms. Melissa, our lovely garden volunteer, oversaw its construction. She harvested the vivex beams in brown and rust patchbark glory. We hauled the beams and branches up to the garden, where we drove stakes into the bed as stiff bean-climbing foundation. She taught the children and I how to lash vivex rods together in intricate and random zig-zags, and weave twine between the rods to make a web for beans tallons to traverse into a tunnel.
No more stories from distraught fifth-graders about their third-grade memories of bean tunnels gone bad. Garden students and I tried three; two elementary tunnels failed completely. The one I built with 7/8 graders lasted a good year until it was so over grown it functioned more like a five-foot wide hedge than a crouch through tunnel.
The bean trellis is sturdy and beautiful; a reflection of Ms. Melissa and the new insights her volunteerism brings to Wonder Gardens.
Pesto is awesome. Kids can easily grow all plant ingredients, mix them in a blender, feel the joy (and eat every noodle!). In every class, 2/3 of the children vote green noodles "very good." I've even had a few kids claim green noodles were the best food they'd ever had. Only a few children in most classes rate pesto "OK." After a completed green noodle garden day, only one or two children say pesto is something they "wouldn't eat even if they were starving."
1 part combination basil, mint, parsley
1/2 part spinach
1/4 part olive oil
1/4 part parmasean cheese
1/4 part mac nuts
at least one clove garlic (garlic to taste)
salt to taste
Harvest herbs and spinach from garden. Wash thouroughly. Place all ingredients in bike-powered blender. Peddle until smooth. Combine pesto with noodles, or use as spread on bread, or pizza sauce.
We got out the bike blender in garden class so students could whip up pesto without electricity. Kinetic energy is a way of the future. No better place than garden class to think about kinetic energy and how harnessing the "free" power of movement could help our Earth.
Students were sold as soon as they saw the bike and its basic blender mechanism. The tire rubs against and turns a grooved rod the diameter of an adult thumb. The grooved rod is attached to the mechanism that spins the blade of the blender so puree speed is dependant on pedaling speed. Kids couldn't wait to start blending!
We harvested basil, mint, parsley, and spinach (some even requested raw kale) fresh from the garden. Gardeners washed the herbs, loaded them into the blender, and added other pesto ingredients. Potential pedalers lined up in three seconds flat; the only problem was the size of the mountain bike the blender boot was set-up on. The littlest children had to stand up to reach both pedals while dodging the middle bike bar in order to extend their legs. Needless to say, the longest-legged children produced the smoothest pesto. No one gave up and most were eager to try. All were fasinated to see personal power transformed into a petroleum-free blending machine. The pesto was da bomb. Every bite gobbled up by glistening children.
I coould see intelectual light bulbs above the heads of pedal powered pesto makers all day long. Years ago, I heard about a charter school in Colorado that powers its computer lab with bike-powered generators. Students must sign up for pedal duty to help maintain continued computer usage. Just last month, I viewed an artist's sketch of dreamed-up electricty producing scenarios of the future. One depicted a playgroud covered by a magical surface that traps kinetic energy and delivers it to a system that illuminates the playground's neighboring buildings. So children playing tag or bouncing in the castle would produce electricity for their own city blocks.
Anyone know where we can get a pedal-powered garden stove?
Basil can beckon scorpions and help a cough. Rosemary can prevent the evil eye and beat infections. Lavendar can keep witches away and provide a restful sleep. If you were a kid in midieval times, you knew these basic tenents.
Our 3/4 graders are two-months deep into their midieval times study, so last class was time to treat them to an herb walk through a midieval garden. Children scavenger hunted for a dozen herbs and exchanged tails and truths about their medicinal and folk uses. We harvested branches, flowers, and leaves and wove them up into herb amulets to be worn around the neck or hung above a family's door. Gardeners and teachers practiced making our own evil eye and imagined how it would be to live in a time where spells were cast and herb force fields were revered like bulletproof jackets.
Camoflauged in the midieval festivites was vital knowledge about treating common ailments with herbs and foods. We got to practice walking carefully through the garden, looking at plants, listening to plant communication, and wondering about human relationships with plants. The kids responded to being herb focused study with bubbly giggles, helping and curious hands, and light steps.
After class, with freshly sharpened observation skills, an 'io (Hawaiian hawk) was spotted by a comfrey-covered boy walking away from class wearing a bold herbal amulet of sage, rosemary, and lavendar. "Look! A hawk!" He led all eyes to the soaring bird; a black silouette against huge grey clouds and all eyes watched with silent awe as the hawk rode one wind current to the next.
I wondered what a child in midieval times would say about that.
Beware of Tahitian Lime and sun exposure. Whatever you do, don't make a bunch of fresh squeezed limejuice and then go running around in the noonday Kona sun. The result for a majority of participants will be first-layer skin burns that creep up days after exposure and lingers for weeks. Some will blister. Others will turn red then brown then fresh skin pink.
Student gardeners and I found out the hard way on a bright Friday. Had we washed hands in between juice making and sun playing, the burn would not have been so severe. I was working with a group of 8 first through fifth grade boys and one third grade girl. No time for hand washing post juice making; it was awesome that we scrubbed up before! All amped up from their delicious honey-sweetened juice, I couldn't contain them from immediate grass field activity.
Monday rolls around, and a fifth grade boy comes bounding up to me to show me his swollen knuckles and irritated hands. He felt sure that it was a reaction from something we got into that Friday garden day. I looked it up online, and sure enough; Tahitian lime specifically can cause hand dermatitis especially when combined with exposure to sun. Long time Kona fruit specialts had never heard of it but had to concure with my diagnosis after seeing the research.
I had to call all the families of the Tahitian lime burn victims. I was feeling really bad about leading students that I love so dearly straight into a Tahitian lime inferno for their hands. I picked out that lime tree on purpose because it's seedless and thornless and medicinal. All mothers were glad to know what was going on. And all even took the time to tell me how much their child loves garden class.
Beware of Tahitian limes and Kona sun. Not a good combination.
Ms Krista says:
Everyday encounters with real garden sprites; tortuous panorama of the surf; old-growth collards; machete lessons; mantis rehab; pesto pasta. Days as a public school garden teacher on the Big Island are filled with unexpected gems of wisdom and infinite inspirations. Introducing my life as a school garden teacher...