YOUR HABITAT GARDEN YEAR ROUND
FALL IN THE SCHOOL HABITAT
This is a good time to assess
how your summer maintenance plan went. Was the work shared so it was
not a burden to one individual or family? If this was your first year,
how are your plants doing? How many have not survived your summer break?
Fall is a good time for planting, so talk to your students about how
their habitat looks and if there is a need to replace or move plants
that have not faired well. Do you have summer blooming annuals or perennials?
Periodic dead heading throughout the summer will ensure continued blooming
,sometimes until frost. Once herbaceous (soft stemmed) plants have stopped
growing or become dormant they can be pruned back to ground level. They
will grow back from the roots next year. All habitats will benefit from
a fall clean-up followed by the application of 4-6 inches of mulch.
This will help prevent compaction from rainfall and will make the soil
easier to work in the spring.
Fall is a good time to test
your soil. Kits are available from the Extension office for limited
testing but if you want a whole class to be able to test, you should
buy a kit for your school from a garden center. Lime and organic fertilizer
can be applied this fall.
Pruning of trees is best
done in February but you can do some corrective and clean-up pruning
now on both trees and shrubs. If your habitat is established it may
begin to need perennials divided or plants moved or removed. The extra
plant material can be given away or if there is a good quantity; a plant
sale may be in order.
WINTER IN THE SCHOOL HABITAT
Winter can be a quiet time
for student work on the habitat. However, it can also be a time for
students to assess the appearance as well as the function of the habitat
site. Colorful bark, and varied textures, add interest to the winter
landscape, and trees and shrubs with fruits and berries add interest
as well as food for wildlife.
If you are planning for a
spring planting this is a great time to work with your students to inventory
your site, measure and map the area and begin researching native plants
as well as other plants that have wildlife value. Seed catalogs, nursery
supply catalogs and garden publications are great resources to share
with your students. Visit a local nursery, botanical garden, or park
and take note of the winter landscape and what may be blooming this
time of year. Some plants can be started from seed to be put out in
the spring. Also, some plants can be propagated this time of year.
The landscape should be checked
by students for storm damage, limbs down, broken branches. Prune damaged
woody plants. February is also a good time to prune deciduous summer
blooming shrubs and trees as well as ornamental vines. Winter/early
spring is a good time for tree planting, either bare root or balled
Check water structures and
clean out debris. Keep bird feeders stocked and if you have not installed
feeders you may want to look into having students construct some simple
feeders. It is not too early to build nesting boxes for spring. We have
plans for different styles of "bird furniture" depending on
what species you would like to invite to your habitat.
SPRINGTIME IN YOUR HABITAT
Springtime is a time for
many groups to take advantage of the nice weather and getting kids out
on field trips and hikes to explore the outdoors. Safety is the most
important concern of teachers and of Wildlife Stewards. As a leader,
teachers and Wildlife Stewards are responsible for the safety of their
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- Your students, their physical
capabilities, judgment, and ability to cooperate
- How to administer first
- The area you are hiking
- The hiking distance and
how long it will take
- What to do in an emergency
- What outdoor clothing
to use in various weather conditions
- How to recognize and voice
or safely negotiate physical and climatic hazards
- How to control and pace
a group while hiking
- How to read a map and
use a compass
- What to do if a person
or the group gets lost
ACTIVITIES THAT WILL HELP
- Play games that involve
teamwork, cooperation and building self-esteem
- Take a first aid class
- Prehike the area
- Start with short hikes,
until you know the group better
- Discuss an emergency plan
with the group. Test them by role-playing an accident
- Visit an outdoor equipment
store with the group
- Check out local weather
and snow conditions prior to outings. Have a plan for lightening storms
- Place the slowest person
right behind the front leader
- Practice map reading and
set up a compass course at your school
- Pretend a hiker has been
lost and role-play what to do
SUMMER IN THE SCHOOL HABITAT
Summer is quick approaching
and now is the time to set up your summer maintenance plan if you have
not done so already. Establishing and implementing a summer maintenance
plan is especially critical this summer for schools who have planted
new plants this Spring and will need careful watering. Oregon is also
facing drought conditions this summer, which will provide stress to
our school gardens.
It is best if the wildlife
habitat is maintained by students, families, and community members in
partnership with 4-H Wildlife Stewards. A shared effort will ensure
ownership and longevity of the program.
Assign Families to One Week
to Maintain the Habitat Site: Several schools have implemented successful
summer maintenance schedules by assigning families and students to take
one week during the summer to maintain the habitat. Phone calls, letters
home to parents asking for their support, and sign-up at your next PTO
or PSO meeting are good ways to let families know how they can help.
Arrange to Get the Water
Key for Outside Hose Bibs: Remember, access the to building will be
limited during the summer months. Arrange with your school principal
and custodian to get keys for turning on the water. Most principals
and custodians are usually on-site through mid to late July.
Set Up a Locked Storage Area
or Tool Box with a Combination Lock: Also, it's a good idea to have
a locked storage area, a shed or a box with a combination lock. Tools,
hoses, and the water key can be stored in this area. A log sheet can
be developed for families to record when they watered and weeded so
the next family will know what happened in the previous week. It is
also helpful to have emergency contacts such as a key volunteer, a 4-H
Wildlife Steward or an OSU Extension Master Gardener who can be contacted
if there is a problem with the plants, safety issues, equipment break
down, vandalism, etc.
Provide a Reference Notebook
of Plants and Weeds in the Garden: Pictures, sketches, and/or descriptions
of the plants which have been planted and their requirements for water,
sun, and soil can also be collected and put in a notebook as a reference
for the families who are maintaining the garden in the summer. Be sure
to include pictures and sketches of weeds as well. This will help ensure
that families will know which plants should be pulled.
Maintain a Journal or Notebook
in the Main Office for Keep Grounds Staff Appraised of Your Project:
In order for grounds keepers to be aware of our 4-H Wildlife Habitat
projects, it is a good idea to keep a notebook in the school office.
Grounds keepers are not responsible for maintaining our wildlife habitats,
but should be aware of how the habitat is maintained, who maintains
the habitat, and when the habitat is maintained. The notebook should
include: map of the site, information on plants, a watering scheduled
that is followed, spray and pesticide restraints, list of key volunteers,
and an "ongoing" journal of your work and scheduled work.
This is an excellent project for a team of students in your school to
set up and maintain this notebook.
Keep the Neighbors Informed:
Don't forget to keep your neighbors informed of your habitat project.
They can help keep a watchful on your wildlife garden during those summer
days when there are few people around. A letter or flyer from your students
describing their project and how the neighbors can help is a great way
to get the neighbors on board.
Above all remember, this
is not a project of a 4-H Wildlife Steward or a single teacher. This
is a school project. Get others involved in the project. The pay offs
in the end will help both you (you don't have to do this alone) and
the entire school community by ensuring a project that can be sustained
over the years to come.