Several students at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School have discovered their green thumbs.
With warm weather finally arriving in the South Cariboo, the students of Ray Kline’s agriculture class were out clearing last year’s dead brush from the flower beds last week. Kline said his class has already grown an impressive crop of flowers and vegetables in the school’s greenhouse.
“We start right from seed: how to plant them, look after them and transplant them. They get basic small nursery skills (in the greenhouse),” Kline said. “Outside we’re doing food production we’ll hopefully be able to use that food at the school in the fall.”
This marks Kline’s first year teaching the gardening course at PSO, after Claudia Morgenthaler retired last year. He has a degree in botany, so he jumped at the chance to put his knowledge to use.
“This has been so much fun and a really good group of kids,” he said. “I think it’s very important for them to learn where their food comes from and how to grow it. Once they take an interest in that they become more well-rounded people.”
Grade 12 students Georgia Findlay, Mackenzie Deforge and Gracie Schmid are all new to the class. The trio said they wanted to learn how to grow their own food and flowers, and so far have found the experience to be fun.
“I have always liked plants and I wanted to take a chance at actually growing things and learning how you’re supposed to do it with some hands-on experience,” Schmid said.
Apart from Findlay, the trio had little experience gardening before this year. All Deforge knew how to do was weeding, which came in handy when they cleared the exterior garden.
Schmid said they started the class by putting together a booklet on all the various plants they were going to be working with. They learned about the ideal growing conditions for each plant and which ones grow well together in pots or baskets.
“We still have to learn about making our own gardens, like how to design butterfly and bee gardens,” Deforge said.
Kline said that this year he’s planning on teaching his class how to make gardens friendly to both honey bees and native mason bees. Deforge said the mason bees are less hostile than regular bees, so the class has begun making small hexagon-shaped hives for them.
“The honey bees are colony bees, while mason bees are solitary. They live by themselves,” Kline explained. “Mason bees are way more efficient at pollinating than honey bees.”
The majority of work the girls have done so far has been inside the greenhouse. They’ve helped plant corn, tomatoes, flowers and more which have exploded over the last few weeks.
“It’s been very fast. I’ll go into class and walk around the greenhouse and go ‘Oh this is growing, or this has bloomed’ and the corn has grown so fast. We planted it and came back from the weekend and it had already sprouted,” Schmid said.
Schmid and Deforge particularly enjoyed designing the hanging baskets. They said the students were tasked with picking the flowers for each basket to create colourful and appealing designs.
“We picked geraniums, petunias and alyssum and then we just arranged them in the baskets. I put the geraniums in the middle and the rest of the flowers around it,” Schmid said. “I enjoyed working out what would look nice together and being creative with it.”
Deforge said she enjoyed learning more about the different kinds of flowers and native plants that can be grown in the South Cariboo.
Now that they’re outside, Schmid said they’ll be running a classroom contest to see who can make the best planter. They’ll also be able to move several plants out of the greenhouse, which will allow them to grow even more in time for the PSO Plant Sale at the end of the month.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the final product because we have put a lot of work into this and it’s only been just over a month since we started,” Deforge said. “I’m excited to see how it all turns out.”
Kline said the plant sale will take place on Saturday, May 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If there are any plants left over they’ll be open again on Sunday, May 28.
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