Friday, August 14, 2009

Butterfly Watch 2009

It is exciting and calming at the same time to see these beautiful winged visitors in our gardens each summer. The kids become hushed and focused as soon as they drop down onto a drooping blossom and start squealing happily once they take flight. A Monarch and Tiger Swallowtail have been sipping from our CentroNia butterfly bushes regularly this month, and I hope they've found safe places to lay their eggs too! Our gardens receive a few more quiet visitors, such as the ever-growing family of birds who mischieviously get caught in the grapevines while stealing fruit or a clump of slimy slugs cooling off in the dark corners of the compost piles. This year we've learned with our young gardeners to appreciate our visitors a little more, and hope that pesky ones (aphids, rats, cucumber beetles) will find another garden to bother.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Come and Get IT!

We have a great event coming up - on September 7th we will have a big potluck celebration at Girard Garden. Bring a dish to share and try out some of the garden's harvest prepared specially by a guest chef! It is also Girard's first birthday, and we want to celebrate with the whole neighborhood.

Yay Rebecca!

Rebecca and I went to NYC a couple of months ago to help out with Fritz Haeg's Hudson Guild Project, a children's edible garden. It was a long, dirty day (including a roundtrip from chelsea to the bronx) but by the end we had made lots of new friends and learned some cool new garden techniques. The even was sponsored by Ovation TV and Gardenburger, and you can see some video below with an excellent soundbite from Rebecca!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Savoring Summertime

Summer is halfway over and one thing we have learned for sure is that kids everywhere love to garden, and even more, they love to EAT what they grow! This summer we have worked with kids from AA Lead, Bancroft Elementary, Vietnamese American Cultural Services Center, Columbia Heights Youth Club, Community of Hope, CentroNia, Garrison Middle School, CentroNia's pre-K incentive program and countless neighborhood "drop-ins" at Girard Children's Garden. Almost every child (over 350 participate weekly) has had a chance to prepare a recipe or take a bite of the fresh produce grown at each garden. A big hit this summer were spring rols, using basil,chives, carrots and cucumbers homegrown by the kids. All of the kids at the CentroNia programs and Girard Children's Garden have documented recipes with drawings and writings, and soon there will be a cookbook to share with everyone! Our open times at Girard Garden (every Monday 5-7, Wednesdays 4-6)have been the most fun - as the sun sets lower in the sky, kids trickle in from Girard Playground to water, plant seeds, paint, play games, dig for worms in the compost, chew on mint leaves and chop up cucumbers and squash for snacking.
Some things to look forward to:
1. Soon the corn at Girard Garden will be ready to harvest! Our awesome volunteer Dad Luis has been caring for the 8 ft tall stalks like his own children and they are going to be TASTY!
2. Soap sales! The 3rd and 4th graders at CentroNia are making herbal soaps using herbs from the CentroNia garden. There will be a sale in late August, and hopefully a stand at the Mt. Pleasant Farmer's market. Stay tuned!
3. September 7th - Eat-In and 1st year celebration at Girard Garden! Bring a dish and celebrate the garden as well as healthy foods for healthier kids on Labor Day. There will be lunch and the distribution of our Girard Garden cookbook (made by the kids).

So many things are happening, and we definitely could use some help! If you are interested in volunteering any time, please contact Lola at

In other news, check out Capital Area Food Bank's new program for gardeners (below). This sounds like a great way to get local fantastic front yard farmers to help out with any surplus from their efforts.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

If you have extra bounty from your garden this summer, consider an alternative to gifting all your neighbors with bags of zucchini. The Capital Area Food Bank wants you to donate that extra produce to your neighborhood social organization (food pantry, soup kitchen, summer kids care program), and we’ll show you how! When you sign up for our newly launched Grow A Row program, we will pair you with a social organization in your neighborhood. We also provide a nifty yard sign and receipts for tax deductions. Fresh produce is an essential component of a healthy diet, but is not frequently donated to soup kitchens or food pantries due to its perishable nature. Grow A Row is an excellent opportunity to bridge community, build relationships, and provide people of low income with access to fresh, local produce. To sign up or for more information contact Anika Roth or Jody Tick at or call us at (202) 526-5344.

Monday, June 1, 2009

School's always in with City Blossoms

Our schedule is about to do a big flip flop now that school is ending and summer gardening workshops are gearing up. Summer may mean chill time for other teachers, but for us it's the best time to be working - and eating! This summer we have lots of tasty treats growing - peppers, herbs, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, carrots, canteloupes, beans, spinach, edamame, and strawberries to begin with. We hope that we can get some good recipes tried out in all of our workshops, and plan on making a big community cookbook by the time fall hits.
The tasty treats aren't just for the kids! On June 27th, there will be a workshop on herbs - preserving and using them for food - at Girard Garden for adults. If you have always wondered what to do with the rest of that basil - after making pesto, of course - or how to dry out your rosemary and lavender, you should come on by! It's free!
Happy Gardening,
City Blossoms

Monday, May 18, 2009

Breaking New Ground with E.L. Haynes

This past Wednesday we went outside with our E.L. Haynes 5th grade class and Mr. Franz to finally mark our territory at the new North Columbia Heights Greenspace. This space has been acquired by Washington Parks and People and is planned to be a community space with gardens, seating, and artwork. We have been working with the super-awesome 5th graders in their classrooms to plan out square-foot gardens, grow baby vegetable and herb seedlings, play with worms and distinguish the different bugs by playing BUGGO. Also, the kids created their own signs to invite, inform and inspire visitors to the garden. So far in the garden we have only marked the periphery of the space, but this week we plan to get those seedlings in the ground, aka Grow Bags! These pictures show the space (recently used as a parking lot/ dog pooping yard), kids placing the signs and stakes into the ground, and a lovely post-hard-work stinky armpit/muscle pic. More pics to be posted soon!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oh yeah - the tasty part!

Since I can only post 5 pics per post, here's the rest of the story of the radishes....after the kids packaged up some bouquets for their families, we decided to munch on the leftovers. By the way, that's italian dressing we are eating with the radishes.

Ravishing Radishes

It's not rocket science to plant radishes, but no other plant gives kids the quickest "I grew it myself!" satisfaction of planting, maintaining and harvesting. Here are some pics of our successful harvest day last week - 200 radishes, and that wasn't even half of what was there!

It's a spring thing.

Now that it's spring again, we have noticed more dirt under our fingernails, more obsessive-compulsive weather forecast checking, and more thoughts flooding our heads about the possibilities of juicy, fresh veggies and fruits. The consistent (and necessary! we will appreciate it in the summer!) rain has been like a big "slow down" sign for us and the kids, eager to be outside all of the time. However, we have managed to squeeze outside a few times in between raindrops! Five volunteer days went by with only one rain date and each garden was given a face lift for the season. Radishes were planted in most spots, and we managed to harvest enough for a farmer's market at Girard. We have become the proud owners of a red wiggler worm bin at DC Bilingual, which has given us hours of fascination and creepy-crawlies. Happily we took on a new class of kids at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, and we are crossing our fingers to break ground at their new location this week! We will add pictures of the groundbreaking - in the meantime enjoy some of the spring snapshots above!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blossoming Indoors

It may be the middle of winter, with threats of snow and lower-than-ever temperatures, but we always keep a summertime frame of mind, as you can see in the picture above!
Each week we maintain our classes at DC Bilingual, CentroNia's Langley Park campus, CentroNia's pre-K incentive program at Harvard Street, Community of Hope, and Columbia Heights Youth Club. Since the gardens at all locations are pretty...well...depressing, we are always coming up with ways to brighten up the indoors and plan for spring. This winter we have studied all kinds of critters with pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st grade, and Community of Hope: Bees, Ladybugs, Butterflies, Grasshoppers and Worms. 1st grade at DC Bilingual is starting an indoor vermicomposting system, better known as a worm bin! With 2nd grade and Columbia Heights Youth Club, we are learning about the many animals and critters that inhabit the garden, and building birdhouses to attract some local winged friends to our gardens. In the 3rd grade classes we are getting down to the very start of it all - the seed and how seeds work. Tasty experiments include popping real popcorn off of the cob and dissecting edamame pods. 4th grade is in the middle of an epic unit on herbs, and will be using their own class-grown herbs to design the herb gardens at Girard for spring.
In other news, we will be inviting new groups into the garden this year: an elementary after-school group from Asian American LEAD's program at Bancroft, and some young women from CentroNia's Saturday Arts Workshops to design sculptures for Girard. Also upcoming: monthly Adult and Family workshops starting in April and weekly volunteer days starting in March. Yikes! We will be very busy bees! You know what keeps us bees going: when our friends and neighbors show up to get their hands dirty with us. If you are interested in participating in any City Blossoms activities this spring, please email us at or .
In the meantime, stay warm and start drooling over seed catalogs! Indoor seed planting season is right around the corner! Hooray!
City Blossoms