Phoenix Garden

Phoenix School Learning Garden is focused on teaching students agricultural practices with hands-on experiences. Through this blog we hope to educate others and also learn from community members through discussions.


January 2016

MLK Day of Service at Casa de Belen

Every year, community members around the country work together to serve their communities on MLK Day. As an AmeriCorps member, I have had the privilege of being involved in some really cool service projects. This year was not an exception!

Last Monday, I joined other AmeriCorps members, students, community volunteers, and residents at Casa de Belen, a local teen shelter, to work on preparing their garden spaces for the Spring. We pulled thousands of weeds, started planting seeds for indoors, and had a lot of fun.

Now that the soil is ready, and with a donation of around 900 seed packets from Phoenix School, I think Casa is just about ready to have many fresh fruits and veggies this Spring.


So many weeds, but good soil!
Some cool kids working hard.
AmeriCorps and VISTA members getting their hands dirty!
Wow! We did it!

Miniature Bell Peppers By: KG

We should plant miniature bell peppers in the spring time because they are very sweet, excellent on veggie platters , in salads , stuffed or cored and eaten whole. With a variety of colors the bell peppers ripen green to red , green to yellow ,or green to chocolate. You need to plant them 18-24 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep , they also need to get a lot of sun to grow.They are full of vitamin C and E , its also best to take the mini seeds out of you want to put them in they’re own side dish. peppers

Composting By: KG

Composting is a natural process , it contains macro and micronutrient fibers often that are absent in the synthetic fertilizers. Composting also releases nutrients slowly over months or years unlike synthetic fertilizers. The compost buffers the soil neutralizing both acid and alkaline soils bringing ph levels to the optimum range for nutrient availability to plants. Compost helps bind clusters of soil particles called aggregates which provide good soil structure , such soil is full of tiny air channels and pores that hold air , moisture , and nutrients. Earth worms are also a great benefit of having in compost because they build tunnels through the dirt. The tunnels create percolation of water into the soil. You can use leafs , vegetables , peanut shells , newspaper shreddings , or bark in your compost.

The pictures are of phoenix school kids fixing the compost piles by going through them and sorting the dirt. The kids were putting the dirt into wheel barrows that had a mesh screen to sort pieces of compost ,getting rid of huge twigs,  piles of dirt clumped together, or rocks.


Mustard Greens – Cameron Bennett and Caitlyn Campbell

camerons mustard

This plant is named mustard greens, but its scientific name is Brassica juncea.  It is one of many species of mustard plants. The plant’s leaves resemble the plant kale, but has a mustard flavor. It’s also known as green mustard cabbage. There are many different types of food that can be made from mustard greens. In fact, most table mustard is made from this kind of plant. They are also high in vitamin A and vitamin K.

When planting mustard greens, you can either start from seeds or from seedlings. Three weeks before your last frost date is the best time to plant your seeds. The seeds need to be planted just under the surface of the soil, about half an inch apart. After the seeds have sprouted, you can thin the seedlings to about 3 inches apart. For a successful harvest, you can replant the mustard greens every three weeks or so. Mustard greens don’t grow well in the summer, so it’s recommended to stop planting them near the end of spring. You can start planting again in mid-summer to have a fall harvest.

If you are starting with seedlings, they need to be planted 3-5 inches apart. Like the seeds, they should be planted three weeks before your last frost date. Also, like planting seeds, you can replant them every three weeks for a successive harvest.

When you harvest your mustard greens, you should do so while they’re still young and tender. Once the leaves grow old, they will gradually become tough and bitter. If yellow leaves appear on your mustard greens, you should discard them to promote healthy growth.


Bed of Weeds by KH and MW

This bed, currently filled with weeds, used to be filled with various types of squash that I had planted during the summer. However, they have since passed due to the cold weather (R.I.P.) during the winter months. I will help decide on what to plant in the spring, but for now, it will remain empty until at least February or March. For us to grow new plants in this bed, we will first have to weed the bed out, which we will do in the coming months, and turn the soil and add compost to give the soil additional nutrition. Before we do this however, we will have to determine what to plant, which as of the date I’m posting this, is currently unknown.

However, since we previously planted squash in this bed before, we could use principles based on crop rotation and plant an entirely different type of crop beside cucurbits in this bed. This would add diversity to our bed and reduce the risk of the spread of disease.

Once we decide what to grow in the bed we will make a follow up to this post stating both are reason behind our decision of what to plant and the conditions we have planted it in. As of now, however, we will have to wait until winter is over.


  • Post by Kevin Vaughn Hansberger and Michelle Wommack

Students in 4th period working together to clean out old composting pile so that we can work as a group and learn while keeping our greenhouse, plants and vegetables clean. Organic composting is our ticket to a lifetime supply of premium organic fertilizer. Adding compost to soil makes it easier to work and plant. Adding organic matter to the soil, compost help with the growth. Composting is also a good to recycle leaves and other yard waste as well. 

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