Finally the day arrived for us to actually put some plants in our garden. It was a hot and sunny day but very comfortable under the tent where campers, staff and Master Gardeners gathered. All the campers got to choose a name tag with a picture of the plants they would be planting today before we began our session. Counselors and M.G’s got one too! This was a great way to introduce the plants for the first time.
Once the regular camp startup activities were completed, it was time for Master Gardener Anne Oxenham and MG Apprentice Nancy Sage to start their session. As an introduction to planting our annuals, Anne handed out peas pods to each camper and explained how the peas in the pods could become seeds for new pea plants under the right conditions. Campers were helped to pop open the pods to discover the peas inside. This seemed like an enjoyable activity for all.
Anne and Nancy also emphasized the need for plants to have water and sunshine in order to thrive. The campers will have this lesson reinforced with an experiment that they will do in the coming weeks. They will observe two pots of plants: one which will be watered on a regular basis and one which won’t be watered at all. This should help our campers to understand the importance of watering what you plant. We had fun demonstrating what a plant would look like if it didn’t get watered.
Once we finished up the under the tent activities, it was off to the garden with gloves and trowels. Because part of our planting area for today was compacted, campers also got to use shovels to give the soil a good dig and turn over. Additionally, every camper got a chance to dig holes for the plants, remove plants from pots, place them in their holes, and cover the roots. A lot of one on one support allowed campers to compete these activities successfully. Marian Post, Gail Warner-Lidondici and Barbara Rinehart were on hand from the MG group to lend a hand as well. In the process of digging, rocks were removed from the soil and placed in our rock pile, worms were found and examined, and one camper even discovered a slug. This last discovery was an opportunity to mention that there are some things that we don’t like to find in our garden.
Barb explained how the rock pile will be used for butterflies to sun themselves and gather warmth. I guess this could be considered a very simplified application of solar heat! Campers enjoyed adding there rocks to the pile.
We planted quite a variety of annuals (mexican milkweed, sweet alyssum, zinnias, marigolds, lantana, stock, ageratum, pentas, cosmos, parsley, dill, violets, and cosmos) as well as the perennial herb bronze fennel (a favorite of the swallowtail butterfly) and even a weed: plantain! When we started planting today, we thought we would never fit all the plants we had in the allotted space. At the end of our day we had found a place for all of them.
Once the planting was finished everyone grabbed their watering cans and began to water. With the heat we are experiencing here in SE PA, the plants will really need regular watering if they are to flourish. Some of the campers used wheel barrows to bring bags of mulch over to the garden. This seemed to be a favorite activity. While we didn’t have time for them to mulch today, a how to mulch demo was done and later in the week campers will get to finish this up. They will also be giving the garden a good watering every day that camp is in session unless we get a good rainfall for the day.
We finished up the day with a water fight which our campers seemed to thoroughly enjoy! A bonus for we Master Gardeners was seeing a swallowtail butterfly flitting among the newly planted annuals! It must have heard we planted some bronze fennel. Unfortunately the campers had gone off to swim in the pool so they missed this. I am sure there will be other opportunities though.
Here are some pictures to give you a look at our day.