A Moveable Feast: Fall Finally Comes to a School Garden

*If you haven’t already, you should read the previous posts about the school garden.

In central Alabama, we just had the driest September ever on record, during a month that had highs of 90 degrees or greater every day. On seven of those thirty days, the high was 100–101 degrees, with heat indices going over 110 some days. We went 29 days without rainfall, yielding 0.05″ for the month, a sum that beat the old record of 0.12″ from 1924. It’s kind of hard to garden in that. But we tried anyway.

When the school year starts in August, it’s not really the time to plant in Alabama, but in our school garden, we planted herbs and actually got a nice yield overall— after watering and watering and watering . . . three times a day during the week and twice a day on weekends. Thankfully, almost all of the herbs have survived, and the basil – two types – has flourished! Though I’ve told teachers and students alike to harvest and use however much they want, I’ve chosen to leave it alone since the bees are enjoying it more than I ever will.

So with the basil, mint, catnip, sage, and other herbs going crazy in one tract, I went to Harwell’s Green Thumb in mid-October and picked up trays of cabbage, broccoli, and collards to put in the other tract.  The sunflowers that I had been letting the bugs chew on had to be removed, and there was a bit of nut grass to pull up. Then, on a sunny, cool morning, a couple of students joined me to spread mushroom compost and put some veggies in the dirt.

Thankfully, we got a lot more rain in October, and the temperatures finally cooled to something near normal for this time of year. I saw on the local news last weekend that October had twice the average amount of rain, which is beginning to balance out the drought we’d fallen into. Those conditions are helping our little baby plants to rise up and grow. That rain also has saved the confederate jasmine and rosemary that we planted last spring, though I believe that the other ornamentals and our muscadine vines have gone the way of the dodo bird.

However, never one to give up, I’ve got a plan for replacing some of those. I bought and potted a bright-yellow ligustrum bush and a parent donated two large aloe plants, also in planters. I lost five golden euonymus bushes, despite it being a notoriously hearty plant, in the hard soil of that old playground, so I’m going to Plan B for the beautification aspect of the garden. Plan A was to build something I could leave behind when we leave our temporary location and move to a new campus, but it looks like Plan B will involve more potted plants and container gardening, and thus fit more into the idea of this garden being a moveable feast.


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