All summer long, the female students at Cedar Ridge Academy co-ed Therapeutic Boarding School have been caring for a large garden. Now, at harvest time, the daily watering, weekly weeding sessions and tender loving care has paid off with a bounteous crop!
The garden project began in early spring when the girls and their staff pored over garden catalogs, deciding what they would plant this year. When temperatures were just right in late spring, the girls went to work in earnest, armed with a tiller, shovels, rakes and hoes. The soil was worked, leveled, then marked into planting sections. Existing grow boxes were revitalized, ready to receive seeds or purchased seedlings.
Once conditions were perfect, the girls set to work, planting then watering not only vegetable seeds and seedlings, but young flowering plants designed to ward of predatory insects while adding beauty and charm.
As the garden grew, the girls took turns performing all the necessary chores. Due to dry weather conditions, watering became an almost daily activity. On the weekends, group weeding stints helped provide prime growing conditions for the young plants.
As the season progressed, fresh produce was picked, then brought into the home for the girls to snack on. When the garden produced much more than the girls could eat, produce was harvested, then taken to the campus cafeteria where it was cooked and served for daily meals.
One favorite snack from the garden was fresh peas. Tomatoes proved to be a popular treat as did cucumbers and carrots. Perhaps one of the most exciting rewards for the girls was watching the pumpkins and squmpkins (a hybrid crop resulting from crossing pumpkins with squash) grow ever larger - day after day. It was exciting to speculate how large they would actually get!
Although mini-harvests had taken place as produce ripened throughout the summer, the long awaited pumpkin - squmpkin harvest finally occurred after the first frost. Pulling on their gloves, the girls headed for the patch to glean the results of all their hard work and consistent nurturing!
And what a harvest it was! Every counter top in the home was covered with varying sizes of pumpkins and squmpkins. Many of them were destined for honor as part of campus-wide Halloween decorations. For instance, some pumpkins were given facial features, then used as heads for stuffed straw people placed in sitting positions on benches around campus.
Overall, the garden was a huge success - not just because of the vegetables produced, but also because of the personal growth attained by each participant. New horticulture skills were acquired. The principles of responsibility and sticking to a project were reinforced as the girls cared for the garden from planning through harvest. It's a learning experience that will be repeated again next year!