My very favorite thing about being in the garden with students is what we discover while we are gardening. Our garden is an incredible ecosystem for living creatures waiting to be discovered and a fun way to learn and encourage a love of nature.
We have found many interesting things this growing season. This summer and sunny fall students found Tomato Hornworms. Tomato Hornworms have impressive camouflage and are difficult to find. The large caterpillars look almost fake and make even the most brave among us a little squeamish.
The students love finding earthworms, roly polys, spiders, aphids and ladybugs. We saw hummingbirds, bees and a variety of butterflies enjoying our pollinator beds, including monarchs whom we grow milkweed for.
We found a tiny green frog on a sunflower leaf. Its camouflage was so incredible we didn’t notice it until it jumped. We had a well fed rabbit living under the classroom porch who seemed to have little fear and we had to remind students about the difference between domestic and wild animals.
This October, we had Cabbageworms munching on our rutabaga leaves. A 5th grade student was fascinated with the small green worms. She collected many of them on a large rutabaga leaf, folded it and put them in her jacket pocket to keep. We had to talk her into letting the Cabbageworms go, explaining that they wouldn’t make good pets or thrive in her jacket pocket.
When pulling out marigolds this fall we found a chrysalis. It was so shiny and transparent that you could see the wings of the creature growing inside.
We put the garden beds to rest for the winter, which is always bittersweet. We’ve learned so much this year and we’re looking forward to a winter of rest and the next growing season.