by James P. Master Gardener Volunteer(SM)
The Discovery Garden at Frank Liske Park began on June 24th and ended on August 15th this year (2019). I have been involved with this since 2013 and feel that this was the best and most educational garden for the campers that we have had since I started. There were various numbers of campers in the garden during the session and their attendance ranged from 10 to 25 each day. We met on Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.
Some of the crops were planted by us early during April to ensure that the campers had some vegetables to pick and eat while they were there. These included corn, tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, cantaloupes and watermelons. All these produced well and the kids were diligent in picking them. Our only problem was that raccoons and skunks were just as diligent in picking. Once the campers came in June, we planted okra, eggplants, beans, additional tomatoes, and cucumbers.
The campers heartily jumped in weeding and hoeing the garden and had a particular love for watering the garden and each other. All of us Master Gardeners divided up the activities and had something scheduled each day for the kids to learn about and participate in that was educational in nature. Some of the programs consisted of safety in the garden, plant propagation through cuttings, learning about honeybees and hive building, painting on a new Discovery Garden sign, seed saving, trying a fresh garden snack prepared by a Master Gardener, and learning how plants absorb moisture up through their stems.
And last but not least, Soil Sam. This is an annual project where each camper takes a knee high hose, puts grass seed in and then soil mixture and closes it up, making a head. They make ears and a nose, add bobble eyes, and put it in a cup to be watered.
In addition, Renee Goodnight, through the EFNEP program at Cooperative Extension, came 6 times, and had nutrition programs for the kids. We ended up with a cook-out in one of the shelters, and grilled and ate some of the vegetables they grew. The Master Gardeners made up the difference in veggies that we were short on. I think that our last activity each day at camp when we cut and ate a cold watermelon was a real plus for the campers after being in the hot summer garden.
I want to send out a special thank you to Master Gardeners Becky E., Sarah L., Mark R., Dianne W., Christy C., Brenda M., Connie B., Hope D., and Della H. for their presence and participation in this year’s garden. It was a real team effort to make it a success. I believe it left this year’s campers with something to remember, hopefully for many years to come.