At OJA, pea-planting season has begun. If you haven’t had the experience of picking and eating peas right from the vine, make this the year you try growing your own. Fresh peas are one of the garden’s most wonderful gifts and can’t really be compared to those pitiful little green things that come in a metal can. Pea plants love the cooler weather and can tolerate the few freezes that we have during a typical Orlando winter. States north of Florida may have to wait a couple of months before planting them, but not much longer. Peas are relatively large seeds that are easy to handle and can be planted directly into the ground. Simply space them about two inches apart in double rows. Make sure they are covered with about an inch of good soil. Since many peas are climbing vines, some sort of trellis is helpful. For some of the shorter varieties, you can just poke some twiggy branches into the soil along the rows. Keep the soil damp to the touch by watering once a day until you see sprouts. Once they have sprouted you can reduce watering, but make sure the soil retains some moisture.
There are countless varieties of peas available. Many have edible pods and others, known as shelling types, are grown just for the peas inside the pod. Some of our first and second graders have planted a variety known as “Champion of England”. These are an heirloom shelling pea that we purchased from Seed Saver’s Exchange, a seed company that specializes in unusual varieties of plants that have been passed down from gardener to gardener for generations. You can read more about these peas and even order your own by clicking HERE.
If you haven’t had much experience with gardening, or even if you’ve had experience that has been disappointing, peas may be just what you are looking for. You can do this. It’s not that hard. They are totally worth it.
– give peas a chance.
Fourth graders have been excited to find their vines producing many crunchy and juicy cucumbers. They were quick to point out how much better these taste compared to “store-bought” and are looking forward to making pickles. This particular variety of cucumber (there are hundreds) is called Parisienne Cornichon de Bourbonne, but no one will be offended if you just call them Gherkins. The ones pictured in the basket have probably grown a little too large but are still delicious. Ideally, this variety should be picked and pickled when they are about the size of a fourth grader’s finger.
Once again Orlando Junior Academy celebrated its annual Art in the Garden festival. This time of year the school’s pollinator garden is a profusion of color and life and the students gather around it to learn about the connection between art and the natural world. Fourteen volunteers from our community and beyond came to share their talents and encourage a discussion about the process of creativity. Among the artists represented were: painters, writers, musicians, a landscape architect, an environmental consultant and a performance artist (who became the above “living statue”). All of these generous artists showed how a garden, through inspiration, can be translated into a unique work of art. Students came prepared to ask thoughtful questions about creativity and craft and were inspired by the discussions that followed. OJA continues to be a place where a child’s education is engaging and experiential. It is also a place that embraces the generosity of its village.
As one of our visiting artists wrote: “…from the beautiful campus to the amazing food to the warm staff and the close-knit volunteers, OJA students are clearly the beneficiaries of a great deal of hard work, community support, and treat-every-child-like-he’s-your-child affection. It’s encouraging to me to see the next generation being raised with so much love, and I’m so glad to have gotten the opportunity to see it.”
Thanks to all who made this such a beautiful day.