After reading a journal article about Gardener's as Scientists we discovered that our soil needs more food. Room 2's garden beds are rich with nutrients provided from the composting materials within them and the cow poo which helped make the soil rich in food for the plants in it. Our pallet gardens were planted in rich composted soil from Rachel Sorley - a school mum and soil scientist- and likewise these plants have grown quickly and are ready for harvesting this week.
But our star garden needed attention. We invited Melissa over to help us look deeper into our soil. We discovered the soil is moist, and contains plenty of water, but that it needed to be turn or aerated because it felt hard and compacted. The main reason for aerating is to alleviate soil compaction. While turning our soil we noticed that there were many big fat worms working our garden too! This was a good sign. Their poo will be helping fertilise the soil too. But we could tell that our soil needed some more food.
Food for the soil is called fertiliser. There are many natural ways to make fertiliser. Mr B invited Angie (Erana and April's Aunty) from Agrisea to help us learn more about seaweed based natural fertilisers. Angie donated our school fertiliser for the soil and a spray which is good for the leaves of our frost hit fejioa plants.
Angie was pretty impressed by our gardens and the work we are doing at school. She said she wished she could go back to school!
Angie agreed to come in and teach us how to use this soil fertiliser since it was a concentrate. Concentrate means it is so powerful a mix that it needs to be diluted with water before it can be used. They make it like this so you don't have to carry heavy volumes of the mix everywhere, but instead can carry a 5 litre container around with you instead! That makes good sense but requires some clever science and math. We used Math to work out how much to add to our 10 litre buckets. Angie said we had to add it to 5 parts water, which meant dividing 10 litres of water by 5 to work out the millilitres needed per bucket. 5x 20ml caps were added. We were surprised at how down it still made the water.
Within 3 days we could see could definitely see a spring in our plants. We are keeping an eye on it over this week to see if our soil needs more food.
Seeing our gardens and impressed with our work, Angie came back last Wednesday in the rain and gave us 4 spray bottles for spraying our feijoas and 2 spray bottles that attach to a hose to help us feed our soil. These spray bottles are very smart in design and use the force of the water passing over the top to slowly drip feed the spray watering the garden. We wondered who thought of that?!
Angie also gave us 2 big blue drums since she knows we are keen to make our own Bokashi compost this term as well. That is going to be our class science challenge. (SEAWEED BOKASHI - Seaweed is very rich in plant micro-nutrients. It is good to collect dead seaweed from tide line, rinse it, and mix it into Bokashi bucket) During her talk Angie told us that the brown seaweed is the best seaweed to collect.
Angie said we should look at the Agrisea products under a microscope, so we found our two school microscopes thanks to Julia and we've begun learning how to use these properly too. It looks cool in our class at the moment with all our science projects on the go. Later we will use these to analysis our own Bukashi mixes.
Before Angie left we asked her if we could come to Agrisea to tour the factory where all the products are made, see the science labs and talk to the scientists who make these products. It sounded cool to know you can get a job being a scientist-basically getting paid to have fun we thought! Plus science is really interesting, asking questions and going deeper. Mr B told us scientists are never 100% accepting their findings, even if they find an answer, they still keep asking whether that is really true or not.
If we go to Agrisea we will see how the seaweed that farmers collect along our coastlines after storms gets made into fertiliser.
We want to study seaweed too, because when Angie was talking about it we discovered their is more to seaweed than we ever thought. This is going to be quite an unexpected journey to look forward to this term.
We can't wait to get to class every morning!