Why would anyone plant regular white cauliflower after finding out that it’s possible to grow cauliflower that looks like this?
The Edible Schoolyard at OJA had a V.I.P. day this week. The Honorable Mayor Ken Bradley and his wonderful wife Ruth visited our campus. Along with Winter Park’s first couple came STUFF the Magic Dragon, mascot for the Orlando Magic basketball team. The afternoon began with a student rally in the gymnasium, where the Mission: Fit Possible team from Florida Hospital for Children led everyone in rousing nutrition and exercise lesson. Afterwards, Mayor and Mrs. Bradley along with STUFF toured the garden and the nutritional science lab, harvesting and tasting along the way. Our students and staff showed them how a garden and a kitchen can be integral to a child’s education and how healthy food can be fun and delicious.
For more pictures visit our “Edible Schoolyard OJA” Facebook page.
For some reason (please feel free to explain in the comments section) a forecast predicting temperatures in the mid to upper thirties does not preclude a chance of frost. In the wee hours of Monday, morning Jack Frost decided to pay a visit to our garden. Fortunately, most of our winter crops were unfazed, however, many of our tomatoes and eggplants were traumatized and in some cases obliterated. What is really strange, though, is how the damage wasn’t across the board. Like a tornado that wipes out one house and leaves another across the street unfazed, frost found the plants that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes just a few feet was the difference between “no damage at all” and “I think that slimy blob used to be a tomato plant.” Microclimates are real.
The embarrassing part is that the reason our tomato plants were in these pots to begin with was to prevent this very scenario. The upper grades have been discussing (at length) the “window of opportunity” that gardeners have to grow tomatoes successfully in Central Florida. They have learned that most tomatoes will not “set” fruit once temperatures consistently are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that happens pretty early around these parts and as is painfully obvious; we can still get frost in February. This leaves precious little time to grow a plant that is big enough to produce flowers before it gets too hot. That’s why we start our tomato seeds in pots, so that we can get them going before Christmas. We leave them outside when its warm and bring them inside…. when … we ….uhm…have.. a…um, you know……. a frost.
Oh well, the reason we are doing this is to learn, right? At least grace was extended and we still have many survivors. We’ll be watching the local weather a bit more closely and will eventually put these lucky ones in the ground, that is after Jack Frost has left town for good.
“Welcome back!” to our returning friends from Brazil. Though no passports have been inspected it is believed that our tenant purple martins have spent the Summer and Fall in South America. They’ve returned to our campus once more to raise their offspring. Mrs. Sorenson’s first grade students will be serving as ambassadors for the purple martins and are studying their migration and other fascinating behaviors. (Please don’t hesitate to ask them questions about these amazing birds) Currently, the best time to watch the airshow is in the morning just as school is about to begin. They are quite active then, flying in and out of the nests which hang over our garden. Stay tuned for updates on their stay.
Two classes of first and second graders tasted their “Champion of England” peas this week for the first time. There were just enough peas for everyone to taste two or three but there are many more to come. This heirloom variety did not disappoint these children who have waited so patiently. They were so sweet. (so were the kids.) Do you remember the first time you tasted a pea straight from the pod?