Planting Cover Crops Before Winter’s Deep Frost

DSC_0172BY AMANDA MOSES

Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman, will be spending the rest of the month preparing the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) for winter. In light of the season change, Roytman will be teaching students about the climate’s effect on plant life, how to get the garden ready for winter, and tracking change in seasons and climate around the globe with the Journey North program.

DSC_0221Last week, Roytman enlisted PS 346’s fourth grade science class to help her harvest the remaining vegetables and plant cover crops. There were still plenty of eggplants within the garden beds, so Roytman
allowed each student to harvest one. She explained to the class that each of the garden beds will be cleared out and then the soil will be amended (turned over) since the cold frost hardens the ground. After the soil has been cared for, Roytman will place onions, garlic, and other deep rooted plants to help maintain the soil’s nutrients throughout the winter season. Once spring arrives, these plants will sprout out from the ground and
be ready to harvest.

DSC_0187Two deep rooted cover crops the fourth graders planted were daffodils and Red Emperor Tulips. These plants slowly grow throughout the winter season when the cold frost hardens the soil. Every year, around this season, Roytman enrolls her classes in the Journey North Tulip Test Garden, which involves planting Red
Emperor Tulips and allows students to track the change in seasons and climate around the world. During the fall, the Journey North’s website depicts data and reports from schools around the globe planting these red tulips. This initiative is an important observation program that helps scientists measure climate change in various parts of the world. According to the Journey North website, “One garden at a time, the  relationship between climate, geography and the greening of spring is revealed. Local climate affects where, when, and how plants grow. Over time, the timing of plant growth can be used as an indicator of climate change.
Everyone who participates in this international tulip test garden project contributes valuable information to a long-term database.”

“During the winter the blanket of snow will cover these tulips, and then in the spring they will sprout
out from the ground,” Roytman said. A simple sign of springtime is the blooming of flowers, so when
the tulips emerge the students will do their part in announcing to the Journey North program their
findings.

DSC_0237Students can upload pictures of the UGC to report their tulip growth on the Journey North website,
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/ and discover other gardens across the country experiencing spring. According to the program’s website, this study allows children to participate in an “international science project in which students investigate the relationship between geography, temperature and the arrival of spring.”

Next week, more classes will plant Red Emperor Tulips so that in the spring the garden will be filled with
bright, colorful flowers.

Photos by Amanda Moses