This past week we decided to get our hands dirty with Mother Earth in the garden, teaching the kids sustainability through creating a vegetable garden. This is my third week here in Puerto Viejo, and I can contest that this has been one of the favorite activities with the kids so far. Rolando previously built the frame for the garden, so now it was up to all of us to try out our green thumbs during Kid’s Club.
I must admit that once I was given the activity to do with the kids, I was overly confident after having grown up around my mother (whom I call the Garden-Guru) and having been raised on a tree nursery, that doing a little lesson in gardening would be no big deal at all. However, I quickly realized that I remembered next to nothing about gardening even after years of growing up around agriculture, ha! So I looked to Rolando and Federico for some refreshers and advice, who gave me these following steps. If you’re like me, in not being born with the natural ability to grow goodness from the Earth, read on to learn what I learned with the kids!
Step one was to put in a layer of rocks. The volunteers, children, and I started by collecting rocks and stones to create a filtration and drainage system for the bottom of the garden. We all took turns filling the soon-to-be garden with our newly found rocks and taught the children how a base layer of rocks benefits the plants in a great way. (Some say that putting in rocks isn’t necessary, others say it is absolutely necessary, we shall see in time!).
The next step was finding dead leaves that have fallen from nearby trees to put on top of our recent layer of rocks. I was told that it was a good way to
give some extra nutrition to our plants once the leaves have decomposed. The kids actually collected more leaves than we could use as I said, they were very eager in helping with this project!
Following the leaves and rocks came the most obvious; good, rich soil which we spread out on top of the layers of rocks and leaves the kids collected and scattered. Next came the plants, and luckily for me being the rookie that I am, Rolando and Federico showed up just as I was incorrectly teaching them to plant the plants in a row (well, not really incorrect, there are just better ways). Federico informed us that it’s actually better to plant in a triangular form because it gives more space for the plants to grow. This rookie gringa is always learning something new every day!
And finally, the planting began. The children and German volunteers planted various plants such as tomatoes, basil, arugula, various lettuces, carrots, peppers, all alongside our already planted pineapples (still excited to see how that goes!).
Although the point of this activity was for the children to learn about agriculture, I think that all of us whether a gardening-rookie or a gardening-guru, each learned a little something from our planting activity. Which, I say, is truly the best kind of activity of all.