Garden

Should schools have gardens?

I had a fantastic start to my day – planting a school garden with the staff and students at Cheatham Elementary School in Laveen, AZ. It made me wonder why school gardens are not in every neighborhood!  We planted so many herbs and vegetables including lettuce, spinach, carrots, bok choi, swiss chard, kale, cilantro, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, even brussel sprouts.

It was so stimulating!  This was real life science, math, history, recess, even health.  Lots of the kids committed to trying new veggies we planted that they had not heard of and learned about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.  They also learned how to garden without chemicals, we made our own trellis for our beans, it was priceless watching the kids talk to the plants.  One of the 2nd graders told the plants he loved them and would miss them over the weekend… it was definitely lots of awwwwwww moments.  And it was a great way to take a break from the computer to bond with Mother Nature.

In my opinion, or maybe it’s just my hope, that school gardens lead to home gardens which lead to more people making our environment a priority.  I think it will build stronger doctors and engineers because when we are connected to nature, we design with our environment in mind.  What do you think?

Back to the start of my day – one of the things that made it so pleasant was that the kids really wanted to learn… and they ranged from second grade to sixth grade.  They paid attention, they asked questions, they were respectful, they helped and taught each other; you could feel the joy, the positive energy throughout the garden. 

A large part of that addicting energy was due to the teachers who volunteered to help.  They were just as excited as the kids!  They were patient, fun and had no problem getting dirty.

None of this would have happened without the help of Arizona Worm Farm, who donated all of the compost for the garden beds.

Arcadia Colors Garden – not only did they donate seeds and plants, but they also gave us some great DIY ideas, including the trellis we made for our beans.

None of these volunteers and businesses hesitated because they were all passionate about growing and protecting their communities.  What a breath of fresh air!

The plan is to build gardens in schools all over the Valley.

There are lots of ways to help support GreenDesert.org so we can do more invigorating projects like this one:

For more information on how you can donate to the cause, go to https://greendesert.org/.

Garden

IT’S A MIRACLE WEED

You could have a miracle weed right under your feet. Purslane truly is a weed, but with its added benefits, you’ll be hooked to add this to your next recipe.

Purslane is a green, leafy vegetable that grows in many of our yards.  You can eat it raw or cooked.

“It’s a miracle plant,” said Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, president of the Center for Genetics, Nutrition, and Health in Washington, who discovered while working at the National Institutes of Health that the plant had the highest level of Omega-3 fatty acids of any other green plant.

Purslane contains about 93 percent water, filled with red stems and small, green leaves.

The benefits are endless…

  • Omega 3’s
  • Vitamins A, B, C, E
  • Beta Carotene
  • Calcium, Iron, Potassium

A little history… Purslane grows in many parts of the world, in very different settings. “Common purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is a highly variable, weedy plant in the purslane family (Portulacaceae) with a wide distribution. Although it is likely native to North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent, it had reached North America by pre-Columbian times and was in Europe by the late 16th century” (University of Wisconsin-Madison.)

Fun fact… Purslane has 16 calories, and you can incorporate it into your next meal.

Simple Meals:

  • Purslane Salad
  • Purslane Chimichurri
  • Steamed Purslane

And my favorite… Purslane Pasta.

The recipe is below. There’s also a video showing you step-by-step. I like to use black rice noodles for the taste and superfood benefits!.

 PURSLANE PASTA WITH BLACK RICE NOODLES

This is one of the simplest recipes I own… and one of my favorites.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/8 cup garlic
  • ¼ cup onions
  • ¼ cup tomatoes
  • ¼ cup corn
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup purslane
  • Feta Cheese (optional)

How to Make It:

Add oil to the skillet. I like avocado oil, but use your favorite.  Add your garlic and stir for about a minute.  Add your onions, and again let it cook for about a minute.  Add your tomatoes and stir for about 30 seconds before adding your corn.  Let everything cook for about a minute.  Sprinkle salt and pepper, and then stir in your purslane.  In about a minute, you’re done!  Plate it, sprinkle feta cheese and dinner is served!

 

 
Garden

Ollas

Never over or under water again

Do you feel like no matter what you try… your plants keep dying? In many cases, the problem is water. So how do you know if you’re under or over watering your garden?

My solution – ollas.  They take the guesswork out of when and how much to water your plants.

Olla gardening is an ancient method of drip irrigation.

Ollas are unglazed clay pots designed to keep your plants hydrated, to conserve water, and basically keep your garden growing successfully. They give your plants the freedom they need to survive because the plants take exactly how much they need.

So how do they work? Basically terra cotta is porous…so once you fill the ollas with water, the water slowly seeps out of the walls of the pot, directly irrigating the roots around the pots.

The ollas have saved us time, money and they help leave less of a carbon footprint on our environment..

According to the United Nations, water is the “primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change” and water scarcity alone affects nearly half the global population.

That’s a huge concern… so every little bit counts.

We bought our ollas online, but I’ve also seen them at nurseries.

You can also daisy chain your ollas together to save you even more time.  We have a rainwater system hooked up to our ollas – I know we only get about 9 inches of annual rain in Phoenix… but again every little bit counts.  The rainwater we catch can waters our garden in the winter with no problems.