multi-year plans for an outdoor classroom at Petersburg
Elementary School are one step closer to completion.
Students this spring spend two back to back school days
installing four raised bed vegetable gardens.
the construction of the raised beds students were tasked
with creating a scale drawing of their homeroom class’s bed.
Students used graph paper to determine a scale and the
correct size of their bed before filling in the vegetables
that would grow in each area of their garden. Students used
a “Bad Buds” guide to know what plants would not grow best
together. Students made sure to take in account the
direction the sun would be traveling in relation to their
plants; they did not want to create shade in one area. The
student’s ideas were compiled into one planting plan to be
followed the day of the planting.
staff, Frank Rodgers and Molly Barkman, built the wooden
raised bed structures prior to the students first day
21st, the four classes filled their raised beds
with the soil needed for planting. Students took part in a
process called lasagna mulching. The process is simple, but
messy, and uses layers of different materials to create a
rich soil for growing vegetables. The first layer was
composed of composted manure that was spread-out over the
ground followed by a recycled cardboard layer. The third
step was a thin layer of coffee grounds* followed by a two
inch layer of leaf humus and then a thin layer of coffee
grounds again. The sixth layer is two inches of mushroom
compost followed by the last layer of two inches of compost.
This process was repeated for the four raised beds with each
5th grade class. At the end of the day students
had a chance to get their hands dirty and learn a new
process for composing soils for gardening.
day, May 22nd, students were able to take their
planting plan to install the varying vegetable plants and
seeds in their class raised bed. Students were grouped and
assigned a plant species prior to going outside. Once
outside, students were given their plants or seed packet and
assigned to a four square foot section of the raised bed for
planting. Student with started plants had to determine the
proper spacing for the plants and install their plants.
Students with seed packets determined the correct depth and
spacing by reading the instructions. Students used rulers
and worked as a group to properly plant their vegetable
seeds. This process was repeated for all four classes.
end of the project students had nothing but positive
comments about the experience. They were asked to use one
word to describe the experience. You can see their responses
in the wordle image.
grounds were donated by Daily Grind at Abrams Crossing
Center in Winchester, VA.