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.


May 2016

R.I.P Jack the Jumping Spider. -Caitlyn Campbell

Today, I accidentally did something horrible.

We went out into the greenhouse so Lynn and Lindley could show off the great work that they did cleaning it. When we walked in, the first thing I saw was this giant spider. So, my natural instinct was to smash its little life with my foot. I had not realized it was a jumping spider though.

It turns out, jumping spiders are good for your garden. These spiders are predators of many insects, and since they also don’t eat plants, they are very beneficial to your garden. Spiders are scary, but jumping spiders don’t normally harm humans unless they are threatened. So, if you leave them alone so they can do their thing, then they’ll leave you alone so you can do yours.

Think of them as little garden guards. They prowl around all day, just waiting to pounce on their next victim, which also also happens to be your enemy in the case of growing a good garden. They’re free helpers, so take advantage of that!

Because of my unfortunate murder of the poor jumping spider, I have named him Jack, and I dedicate this post to him. Rest in peace Jack the Jumping Spider, you will be missed.




How to get rid of Groundhogs. By Ashley Burns&Austin Vanderhoef


How do you get rid of groundhogs?

A family of groundhogs or even moles could easily destroy you garden if left alone. It is very important that you get rid of these pest before its to late..

There is a handful of ways you can get rid of groundhogs. If your not to concerned about using chemicals in you quest to get rid of these little burdens, using ammonia is fast acting relatively humane way to go about moving the animals. Even though it sounds kind ofΒ  brutal , if handled right it will eliminate the groundhogs population without killing them. πŸ™‚

it works simply by making their burrows distastefulΒ  to them. That being said, the groundhogs will migrate on their own path of land, far away from your garden. πŸ™‚


LadyBugs by SB

imageCoccinellidae is a wide spread family of small beetles ranging from 0.8 to 18 mm. They are commonly yellow, orange, or red with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, heads, and antennae.

Ladybugs are the most popular and widely used beneficial insects for commercial and home use. Ladybugs are capable of consuming up to 50-60 aphids per day but will also eat a variety of other insects and larvae including scales, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, mites, and various types of soft-bodies insects.

Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or lady birds, are a very beneficial group of insects. Lady bugs are natural enemies of many insect pests and it has been demonstrated that a single lady bug may consume as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime.

Daisies – Cameron Bennett

The Daisy is one of the most common wild flowers in the world. The scientific name for a regular Daisy is Bellis Perennis. It is in the plantae kingdom, and its genus is Bellis. Asteraceae is the name of the family that this flower is in. The species for this specific flower is B. Perennis. Daisies are usually about 1-4 inches long in length. The petals are somewhere between 1-2 inches long. They have about 63 white petals and a circular yellow part in the middle of all of the petals. They almost look like a cracked egg.

Pressed Flowers Art By; Ashley burns and Austin Vanderhoef

flower art 1
In our fourth period class we are making pressed flower art for mothers day. So far we have painted the frames and picked out which flowers we would like to have in the frame. The flowers are still in the process of being pressed. But they should be ready by next Monday. Everyone is excited about this project, so far its the best one yet.
How do you make your own?
First select which flowers you would like in you frame. when you have picked the flowers, you will need newspaper; blotting paper; printer paper; flat, non corrugated coffee filters; flat cardboard; to absorb moisture and aid drying. Your goal is to dry flowers as quickly as possible to prevent browning. When pressing, the easiest method of flower pressing requires no special equipment other than absorbent paper and a heavy book or phone book.Pigments in the petals, stems, and leaves may stain the paper, so if the book is valuable, protect the pages with a layer of paper on each side of the plants being pressed.
After the flowers are dry, it will take 2-3 days for pressing.

Aphids and Biological Control (i.e. nerding out over cool insects)

Hi, AmeriCorps Lynn here. This morning, an RSSA student and I were totally buggin’ out over bugs in the Greenhouse. So our broccoli and cabbage has always had a fair amount of grey aphids on them. They weren’t causing too much damage, as aphids suck juices out of leaves but have been leaving the broccoli florets pretty much alone. We had always noticed that when cleaning lettuce and other leafy veggies that there were always a few brown, large aphids that were harder to remove.

mummy aphid.jpg

You can see one of these weird aphids on the top of this leaf. But wait! There is a hole in that aphid. What does that mean?

Upon further research, we found out that these are called aphid mummies! We are seeing biological control happen right before our eyes. Something called a parasitic braconid wasp in the Genus Aphidius is helping us control these aphids. A female wasp is using her ovipositor to lay a single egg inside an aphid nymph. When the egg hatches, the wasp larva will eat the aphid from the inside out, turning the aphid into a hard, brown mummy. The wasp larva then attaches its new casing to a leaf with a thread a silk, spins a cacoon, and pupates. The wasp then chews through the mummy to emerge as a adult wasp (I might have accidentally got a picture of the adult—look at the small black insect at the bottom of the picture above).

Organic gardening really gives us the opportunity to experience these marvelous things. If we had used an insecticide on our plants, more insects than the aphids would be harmed. Sometimes, nature has its very own way of controlling harmful pest populations. Stay tuned to hear about another biological control, the aphid midge!


The Fight Against Cabbage Moths – Caitlyn Campbell

cabbage mothcabbage moth 3cabbage moth 2

“The cabbage moth is a common Palearctic moth of the family Noctuidae. It is found in Europe, Russia and across the Palearctic to Japan. This species varies in size, with a wingspan of 34–50 mm.” (Wikipedia)

This brown moth’s caterpillars are pests to cabbages and other related plants. The caterpillars that hatch are green and well camouflaged. They live on the underside of leaves, making them less visible to predators.

These little moths are evil to your cabbage. They eat holes through your cabbage leaves and will even eat them down to the middle rib! However, there are ways to get rid of these evil pests.

One way is by making sticky traps. To do so, you take a piece of wood and paint it bright yellow to attract them. Then, you coat it in petroleum jelly so when they come to the wood, they’ll get stuck.

Another way is making a protective spray for your plants. You mix dish washing liquid, molasses, fish emulsion, water, and beer into a large sprayer. Then you can spray everything in your garden. This recipe makes the plants all stronger and more able to withstand attacks from all sorts of pests.

To help prevent more cabbage moths, it’s important to practice crop rotation. If you don’t, then your problem will only get worse and worse. This goes for any of your other plants.

Transplanting by TJ

When transplanting seedlings you can’t just pick them up and move them usually. There are techniques and tips to improve their survival after being transferred.

As you are looking for seedlings to transfer you should find ones with two or three true leaves. These have the best chance of surviving transplantation.

When choosing pots for plants you should pick ones that will benefit the way the plants grow. For example plants that will be in pots for a long time like tomatoes and eggplants might have to be put in gallon pots. Many plants can tolerate smaller or shallow pots but you should always do your research.

The best time of day to transplant is during the afternoon or evening. This is because plants lose water during day and close there stomata at night. When you transplant you want to minimize water loss.

While handling small seedlings , handle them by their seed leaves. This is because these leaves will fall off anyways when the plant matures.

When digging a hole for the plant make sure is big enough to fit the roots without bunching them up.

After transplanting water them with lukewarm water. Avoid getting the leaves wet because it can put the plant into shock. Then place the plants in the shade for a few days to minimize water loss.



Planting Trees. by Caitlyn Campbell

image1 image2 On Friday, April 29, 2016, we went on a field trip to plant trees. Six of us students from science, went with Lynn to Sunshine Park up the street. There, we met a nice lady named Tracey, who provided us with the trees and other tools that we would need. There was around 50 trees that we needed to plant. They weren’t all the same kind, though. There was a few different types of trees and even some shrubs.

As you can see in the first picture, we planted these trees along the fence that separates the park from the road. Planting the trees was a lot more work than we had expected. First, we had to dig a hole big enough to fit the tree and its roots. Digging in this soil was more difficult though, because it wasn’t just plain dirt. This soil was like clay. Once our hole was dug, we pulled the plants from their pot and placed them inside. Using the soil we had dug up, we covered the empty spaces and covered all the roots.

Now that our tree was planted, we had to make a cage to protect it. On both sides of each tree or shrub, we had to hammer two wooden posts into the ground. Then, we put the metal cages around the posts and tree, with the posts to ensure stability. Using zip ties, we secured the cages to the posts. Finally, our trees were ready to be left alone and grow.

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