We are continually blown away by the children’s enthusiasm and excitement for being in the garden and simply helping us weed! Even when it has been too hot to spend recess outside, they still come to our gate asking us if we need any help in the garden. Our students love being industrious and getting their hands dirty. Often times we hear them making a game out of the (otherwise) chore of weeding, by seeing who can pull the most weeds, or whose weeds have the longest roots. It is pretty amusing.
What amazes us even more is their love for all the creepy crawlies they find when they are weeding! By far their favorite soil inhabitant is the rollie pollie, but they also make friends with the earthworms and other buggy neighbors sharing residence in the plant beds with our vegetables. Soon enough, many of the younger kids begin to get a little side-tracked from the task at hand and decide to play with the rollie pollies and worms instead. They talk to them, assign them names, point out the mammas and their babies, and then they start asking how all these creatures got in the beds in the first place. We didn’t put any bugs in here when we planted these veggies! Well in fact, rich and fertile soil is teeming with life, both plant and animal! This is one of the most important characteristics about good soil. When amending our soil and turning beds over for new plantings, we make sure to include lots of organic matter from our compost as well as from other sources. This in turn draws “life”, such as microorganisms, rollie pol;ies, and earthworms to the bed. They feed on the organic matter, breaking it down and increasing the soil’s fertility by allowing nutrients from the compost to be readily available to the plants, improving air circulation, and moisture retention and drainage. What would we do without these little guys? They are tried and true friends of the garden.