Tuesday, April 17, 2012


2nd grade scholars locate and inspect a snail during a pest hunt

Another snail caught eating a leaf of swiss chard!
Springtime is perhaps the most beautiful time of year for the Dreamkeeper Garden.  As the days grow longer the sun reaches higher in the sky and gives more and more of its plentiful solar energy to our plants leaves.  The garden is home to so many kinds of leaves!  Dark ones and light ones, dull ones and bright ones, crinkly or smooth, pointy or obtuse.

While our plants grow larger and more abundant, hordes of hungry critters seek out their nutrition and energy.  From a distance the leaves look healthy and rich, but a closer look reveals small round holes spaced out about the surface.  Turn the leaf over and you might find the culprit!  Perhaps a snail or a worm, an aphid or a caterpillar.  These hungry little things want a piece of the garden, too!

Recently our scholars have been learning about food chains.  There are many food chains in the garden, and the one we care about includes us, humans!  In this food chain, like in all food chains, the sun is the source of all energy in the garden, feeding our plants with its light.  The plants then produce food through photosynthesis using sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.   Next, we humans get energy by harvesting and eating the plants, and the food chain is complete.

Spiky buckmoth caterpillars!
When pests come to snack on our leaves they sneak their way into the human food chain, taking energy that we humans want for ourselves!  Over the next few weeks our scholars will be hard at work removing pests to keep our plants healthy, happy and growing.
A scholar carefully inspects both
sides of a cabbage leaf

Because we only use sustainable gardening practices we do almost all pest control by hand.  We turn leaves over, plucking snails or worms off one at a time.  Instead of using chemicals to spray aphids, we simply use soapy water to dry them out.  As for spiky buckmoth caterpillars?  We remove them with gloved hands and dispose of them in a big bucket of water.

Fortunately the pests are focusing on winter greens like cabbage, collards, kale, and chard that are nearing the end of their life cycle.  In a week or two they'll be ready to harvest and our seasonal pest problem should be solved!

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