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Entries in Gardening Tips (3)


Cooking with Compost

Lasagna has always been a favorite dish here at the garden, what’s not to the love about the layers of ooey gooey goodness?  We love lasagna SO much that we even decided to create our very own lasagna garden! It may sound a little strange, but lasagna gardening incorporates some of the same ideas as baking lasagna at home.

Now imagine your favorite lasagna- layers of creamy ricotta cheese wedged between wholesome, hearty lasagna noodles drenched in rich marinara sauce and topped off with delicious cheese.  Now replace those tasty noodles with cardboard, that decadent ricotta cheese with compost and that thick marinara sauce with soil and you’ve got a recipe for a lasagna garden! 


A lasagna garden is a no-dig gardening technique that uses layers of newspaper or cardboard, compost, brown materials, soil, and manure to produce a nutrient rich mixture that is perfect for growing. Over time these compostable ingredients will break down and produce a healthy living environment for worms and maturing plants.  Here’s one recipe for a lasagna garden…

What you will need…

Foods Scrapes or Compost


Newspaper or Cardboard

Brown materials (dried leaves, straw, sawdust, hay)

Organic Soil


Step 1

Pick the perfect location for your lasagna garden- a location with plenty of sun!  Now lay down your sheets of cardboard or newspaper and gently dampen.   The newspaper or cardboard will smother weeds and grass and will also create a nice cool place to attract earthworms.

Step 2

Lay down a thick layer (2-3 inches) of alfalfa- this will help retain moisture in your garden.

Step 3

Layer 4-8 inches of compost or organic material- use your hands to spread the layers evenly

Step 4

Alternate layers of brown materials and compost or green materials  (If planting in spring or summer during warm weather- intersperse topsoil between the layers of compost.  This will ensure a proper medium for planting)

Step 5

With your layers of green and brown materials in place, finish your lasagna garden with a final layer (3-4 inches) offinished compost or topsoil.

Step 6

Now plant directly in your new Lasagna garden! If you are using cardboard be sure to cut an "x" in the cardboard where you are planting so the roots can make it through to the earth below.

The best thing about lasagna is how simple ingredients and flavors work together to create a complex and flavorful dish.  A lasagna garden is very similar in that the various layers of compost and soil combine to form a nutritious environment for your plants to grow and thrive! 


Learning from the ground up!

Decomposers, compost, worms, OH MY!  Fresh from our Vermiculture Bin to your computer screen, we bring you news of our hardest workers in the garden: the Red Wiggler Worms. 

These worms eat all the food scraps from our cooking classes and turn them into rich, beautiful, and nutritious soil!  These red worms are known as Natures Wonder Worker because they eat their body weight in compost almost daily!  Without them, all our food waste would go straight to the landfill and all those nutrients would be lost. 

So in honor of our Red Wiggler Worms’ dedication to the garden, we celebrated a worm appreciation month full of compost sorting races, worm biographies, even taking turns to feed the worms by hand!  The students were not afraid of getting their hands dirty when inspecting the “cool” and “cute” worms in our compost bin.  Students learned the importance of giving the worms a well balanced diet of plants, sticks, food scraps, and paper.  They also learned the valuable role compost plays in putting nutrients back into the soil in our raised beds. There is so much to learn and discover in the ground under our feet!  With the help of decomposers like our worm and Rollie Pollie friends, we are able to grow beautiful vegetables to eat in our cooking classes. 

Let’s give three cheers for the bugs under our feet who truly dedicate their lives to improve the world around them!!


When Kids Make Salads

 Who says kids won't love a healthy snack?

Quite often when we tell people what we teach our kids in cooking class their response is, "Do they even like it?" Every time, with a satisfying smile, we reply, "Yes, they do!" And our doubter is left amazed. Take our Fourth Graders for example:

We walked Ms. Lafleur's fourth grade class to the orchard and began to harvest some of the last Granny Smith and Fuji apples of the year. The kids were literally jumping with excitement over the prospect of picking this delicious fruit.  After we collected a bowlful of apples and took it back to the table, we washed and cut the apples.  The students then learned all about fennel and chopped the bulb up as well.  They also cut up some mint and sorrel they had harvested from the garden and tossed it all with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Finally, we took our forks in hand, and as a class we counted "one...two...three"...and we all tasted it! At first it was quiet, as everyone chewed up their first bite.  But then, the exclamations started coming from all directions! "This is GOOD!!"  "I love it!" "I'm going to want some more!" Every single student had  something wonderful to say about the tastiness of this snack.  Then from the side I kept hearing, "Miss Cassie, Miss Cassie" and so I walked over to my friend at the table.  He stood up and looked at me with an almost desperate countenance and pleaded "Please! Can I take this recipe home and give it to my mom so that she can make it for me for my birthday?!?" At once my heart was overjoyed at this most sincere stamp of approval.

Fourth graders enjoying the salad

Try it for yourself and tell us what you think! 

Apple Fennel Salad 


2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and halved

2 bulbs fennel, sliced thin

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

optional: 1/4th cup chopped sorrel

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Method:

 1.  Cut the apple into thin slices and place in a medium bowl with the fennel and sorrel.

 2. Whisk together the lemon juice, mint, and olive oil in a small bowl.

 3. Toss the apples, fennel and sorrel with the vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and pepper.

 4. Enjoy!