Spring in the garden

Lots of happy students learning and working together in our Outdoor Classroom!


In our students’ own words : mini-greenhouses from milk jugs

On Thursday, the 4th and 5th graders from Ms. Gunderson’s class and their 1st grade buddies in Ms. Butler’s class got together for some winter gardening! They gathered lots of gallon milk jugs, a few other supplies, and some helpful parent volunteers to do winter sowing (check out the link to find out what that is). Watch this space for progress reports as the weather gets warmer! Exclamation points, capitalization, and smiley faces are all from the students.


I like that I made my greenhouse. I cut open the jug and put in dirt and seeds. It felt good and I had fun working with my buddy. – Isaac

I like best about our greenhouse is that both of us did all of it. First we cut it and my buddy pretended the milk jug was a mouth. I was putting the dirt into it. I had a lot of fun with my buddy and I can’t wait to do it again. – unsigned


I liked that it was easy and an awesome gardening tool. It’s really nice to be able to garden in winter. I felt really good. And excited that we were going to have food and flowers soon. – Grace

My buddy was very happy and encouraged me to help. Me and my buddy planted pumpkins. – Cady

I loved working with our buddies. They were fun and funny to work with. I liked the concept of the greenhouses and I thought that maybe we could eat our vegetables in the summer. I liked it. – Emilia

What did I like about my greenhouse? Well it was GREAT. It was a milk carton like everyone’s and it was sugar snap peas. I think my buddy and I will have the most beautiful garden. -Eden

What I liked best about my greenhouse was putting tomato seeds in it. And putting a lot of dirt in it. What we did was put a lot of dirt in the milk jug, and we put seeds in it. I felt really good because I was working with my partner. It was fun because we did everything together. And we both played with a lot of dirt. – Kia

The thing I liked most was planting the seeds. I felt bored because I don’t like gardening. – Aidan

I love that they are homemade. I felt very artsy. – Ingrid

I like my greenhouse because it has dirt. It was fun to make with my buddy. – unsigned

I liked the greenhouses because we got to plant sunflowers! We cut the carton so there was a mouth. Then we put in dirt and then we planted sunflowers. It was really fun. My buddy was very fun to play with because she was very kind and silly. – Emma

What I liked best about the greenhouse was the pea pods that me and my buddy put on it. I also liked getting my hands dirty. – Elliot

I liked how we used the milk cartons for the green house, and it was also really fun to get help from them. But the best part is that it was fun playing with the dirt and getting MESSY. – Christina


I like my greenhouse because it is growing pumpkins. We filled it with dirt and it felt gooey and smushy. I like working with my buddies because they are always cheerful. – Maddie

I love GARDENING! 🙂  Me and my buddy planted sunflowers, and we drew plants on the side of the greenhouse. – Molly

What was best about our greenhouse was the soil. I felt awesome. The dirt was the best. I love dirt. It was fun working with my buddy because she’s nice and sweet. – Amaya

It was fun working with my mom and buddy. It was way more fun than I thought it would be. – Steve


How to have a great summer evening

The herb spiral peeking out from the side of the summer squash and pumpkin patch.

The herb spiral peeking out from the side of the summer squash and pumpkin patch.

First, come to the garden and meet up with friends.

Hanging out with sunflowers and the Little Free Library.

Hanging out with sunflowers and the Little Free Library.

Next, check out everything. Vegetables, flowers, weeds, bugs, books. Notice the interesting ways vegetables flower, make seeds, and grow into food.

Room 126's raised bed has been growing like crazy.

Room 126’s raised bed has been growing like crazy.

Rain garden plants taller than an incoming 4th grader.

Rain garden plants taller than an incoming 4th grader.

Then, see how tall you are.

There was a lot of watering action.

There was a lot of watering action.

Watering gets everyone moving. Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the 12-year-old former VHE gardener who took charge of the hose with happy and wet results.

The evening's bounty.

The evening’s bounty.

If you find some food ready to eat, pick it and share a sample.

You can try out being extra tall in the garden.

You can try out being extra tall in the garden.

Water some more, stand on some sturdy stuff, and admire the colors. How many shades of green are there?

Beauty shot of a baby pepper.

Beauty shot of a baby pepper.

July 5 get-together

Over 40 people ended up visiting the VHE garden on this warm sweet summer evening.

New friendship

bare feet




chalk drawings


watering cans


knowledge shared about plants, reseeding, radishes, edible flowers,  & harvesting


filling new compost bin

little library

hide and seek







Kurt and Mary shared little bits of garden wisdom.   New families came out to the garden for the first time.   Kurt got the compost bins set in place and ready to go. Kathy took photos.   After all of the families walked away with a bag of fresh produce to eat and one to share, another family arrived to mow paths around the garden bed and help clean up.  All leftover produce was washed in a wheel barrow and distributed to the VHE neighborhood community.

VHE parent Jodi said, “I took the boys down to the garden tonight.  We spent an hour down there–reading books, ‘mowing’ with the old fashioned mower, and poking around. It was fabulous.”  Watch for announcements of future gatherings!


Here comes summer!

First thing in the morning is a lovely time to visit the Van Hise Outdoor Classroom.  I took a bunch of pictures this morning (pardon my shadow in some of them; I am an enthusiastic but inexpert photographer!). Look back at my post from April, and you’ll see how much growing and learning has gone on in the garden since then.

Thanks to our many gardeners:  mostly our wonderful students, but also to our teachers, parents, and community members who have helped and encouraged throughout the year. We hope to see you stop by the garden over the summer; if you aren’t able to sign up for a turn at watering, maybe you can swing by and visit our new Little Free Libraries! And you still have a few days before school lets out to enjoy a morning walk through the garden as it (and we) transition to summer.

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Making progress despite the rain

Hello VHE garden friends,

Spring is off to a slow start this year, but we are making progress in our outdoor classroom already! I took advantage of the wet conditions and lack of thunder this morning to make some repairs to the tire ruts leading into the garden. There’s only so much flattening one can do with boots and a shovel, but once it dries up a bit, we can get a little extra soil in there and finish the job. I want to share with you the pictures I took today. Come and check it out yourself! (whispering: and if you need to deliver anything to the garden, please no driving on the grass until it is much much much drier.)


Garlic sprout

Garlic sprout

There's plenty of earthworm action out there!

There’s plenty of earthworm action out there!

New places to sit: stumps and benches.

New places to sit: stumps and benches.

New raised beds

New raised beds with rain garden in background