I learned about EarthBoxes last spring and attended a session at the NSTA Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO. I came back to school so excited to begin. I ordered six boxes. Our Kindergarten students planted regular sunflower seeds in two boxes, and our first grade students planted dwarf sunflower seeds in two additional boxes. These boxes were placed outside their classrooms in two different areas - a walkway in front of the school where traffic is constantly moving and a patio area at the back of the school that becomes quiet at night and on weekends.
All the seeds germinated quickly and began to grow. The girls kept the reservoirs full. After the weekend, the first grade girls returned to school to find that their plants had "disappeared"! After probleming solving, we decided that some rabbitts or other small rodents had quite a feast. Then the boxes were moved to the front walkway. However, there was some misunderstanding and the soil was thrown away. Back to the starting gate.
By this point it was too late in the school year to start again, so I took these two and the extra two boxes home. My husband (he is an avid gardener) and I planted eggplant and tomatoes in them and kept them on our deck for the summer. We had a great yield: about 30 pounds of eggplant and 35 pounds of tomatoes. After harvesting, we put the boxes on our back porch for the winter.
In early spring I brought them back to school. As I had learned some tricks, we planted sugar snap peas in the first grade boxes and we are keeping them in the classroom with a southern exposure. The plants are growing quickly. This week, Earth Week, we will plant the sunflowers again in Kindergarten. We will plant regular seeds and keep the boxes outside keeping a close watch on nightly temperatures lows. Spring seems to be coming earlier in the North east and the leaves on the maple trees are coming out. My grandfather always said it was safe to plant by Memorial Day or "when the leaves were full out on the maple trees."
Our Middle School students have been bitten by the "EarthBox Bug" and two classes have planted two boxes in their classroom; rainbow swiss chard and Black Simpson lettuce. Two other classes plan to plant flowers (wave petunias and nasturtiums upon advice from Molly Philbin) and place their boxes next to the Kindergarten sunflower boxes. They will also be planting our 40 x 60 raised bed garden later this spring. Our hope is to compare the rate of growth and yield in a raised bed vs. an EarthBox. We need a better watering system in our raised bed garden.
I devised a lesson plan for a way to replant an EarthBox with 16-18 students; it worked well with everyone being able to add some water to fill the reservoir and plant at least one seed.
We hope to have even more EarthBoxes next year!
Patricia B. McKean
Science Area Coordinator, PreS-6
Convent of the Sacred Heart
1177 King Street
Greenwich, CT 06831
203-532-3590 voice email@example.com