At first I didn’t want to come here. My mom told me it was here, or nothing. So I came here, and at first I didn’t like it. Then I liked it because it was different from regular school. How? Everything! Instead of sitting in a classroom, getting frustrated and bored and sleepy and fidgety, I am being active in the garden and around the pond and in the woods, learning about stuff as we do it, not just listening.
Some of the things I like here are being in the woods, noticing stuff happen, hands-on learning, a lot of being physical instead of sitting and watching. Some of the things I’ve studied are about the plants and bugs in the garden, tree identification, about macro-invertebrates, tapping maple trees, baking bread, and woodcrafts. You’re learning as you’re doing it. You stop and talk about why certain things do this and other things do that, for example, how beavers build their dams and how they affect roadways and fields.
There’s nothing I dislike about this place. I plan to stay here for future years.
This year’s garden at Smokey House is dope. At first I wasn’t excited about it, but eventually I started to enjoy gardening. It’s like tacos – you don’t know why you like ’em, you just like ’em! Or, it’s kind of more like a cake. You have eggs, flour, sugar and other stuff. Each is one thing that doesn’t taste good at all. Then you put them together and it’s enjoyable. Some of the ingredients for a garden are tilling, weeding, digging, compost, fertilizer, starting seeds inside, transplanting them outside. It’s very satisfying when the seeds sprout up from the ground. It’s gonna be my new hobby!
You can find them at the beginning of spring, when the ground is still moist, in early May. First, look for a patch in the woods in a damp area around trees. There might be maple, black cherry, hop-hornbeam or birch in the vicinity.
What are they and what do they look like?
Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are part of the onion family. They grow in the ground and every part of them is edible. The leaves are thick, green and flat. They grow right from the ground with a very short, red stem. To make sure they are ramps, you break a leaf off and smell it. If it has an oniony smell, it’s a ramp.
How do you harvest them?
You dig them up at the base of the plant, like six inches deep, making sure you get the bulb. Make sure you put the dirt back, and leave some ramps for someone else and for them to grow back.
How do you pickle them?
First, clean them, shake the roots in water to get off all the dirt. Cut the roots off at the end of the bulb. Cut the leaves off at the top of the bulb. (You can use the leaves for stir fries, and other things.) Then, boil vinegar, salt, sugar, and water, according to the recipe you are using. Pour it into a jar with however many ramps you have ready, plus a full dried jalapeño for a little spice (optional). Put in refrigerator for a minimum of 3 days or longer to enjoy your wonderful pickled ramps.
We have so much pumpkin puree in the freezer. It was from the Smokey House garden last year. Kids grew it, then baked it until it was soft, and then scraped the insides out.
We had to thaw the puree before we could do anything with it. Juanita mixed the dry ingredients and I mixed the wet ingredients. Then we added the dry ingredients to the wet and mixed them until it was like batter. We added the chocolate chips in the end, then baked for an hour.
We made two loaves and ate them! I usually don’t like the taste of pumpkin, like in coffee and pumpkin spice-flavored things. This was really good because it wasn’t fake.
Throughout our spring ecology course here at Smokey House we participated in a month long experiment where we recorded bean plant growth with added variables to determine if the plant’s growth rate would be impacted. My experiment was to observe and record bean growth between three separate plant’s where one had no sugar added, one that had one teaspoon of sugar added and one that had one tablespoon of sugar. These three plant’s were watered three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. All of the plant’s received approximately the same amount of water and sunlight. On the 26th of April we completed our experiments and culminated data about our findings.
My findings were that the bean plant that received the same amount of sunlight and water than the others but had no sugar added grew the tallest in stalk length at 20 centimeters. However, the bean plant that received the smallest amount of sugar at one teaspoon grew to a close second at 12 centimeters. Lastly for our third bean plant it grew a whopping zero centimeters and gave our room a funky smell due to the fermenting sugar.
The denouement of my experiment was that the bean plant without any additives grew the tallest and perhaps the reason for this is because the plant had easier access to the nutrients in the soil and sugar could have made it more difficult for the other plant’s to do this. The second plant with only one teaspoon grew to a total of 12 centimeters although it grew at a much slower pace than the plant without sugar. As for our plant with one tablespoon it didn’t grow at all and the reason for this could be because there was simply to much sugar for the bean to absorb other nutrients from the soil. We did however, miss an entire week of monitoring our beans due to spring break and this could have been a confounding variable in our project although I have a small amount of doubt that it had a considerable impact on growth overall. I’ve concluded albeit the bean plant’s can grow with a minimal amount of sugar, I find it better to let nature do its magic and add none at all.
For the past few weeks at Smokey House we’ve been doing a bean experiment to determine if different music can change the growth of a plant. I used two very different genres of music, country and rap, and one bean with no music. I chose music because it was the easiest topic and plants do not hear things. People say that music can effect plants, but plants cannot hear. My hypothesis was that the music would not affect the growth of the plants.
I planted five beans, labeled two country, two rap, and one control. Two listened to rap music, two listened to country, and one listened to nothing. They each listened to music an hour every Friday in different closets, with the lights off, and the music playing at the same volume on each device. I measured the height of the stalk length every other school day. I gave them each a third a cup of water every time we watered them.
Country #1 grew better than the rest of them. It grew 16cm by the end of the experiment, rap #2 and country #2 didn’t grow at all, rap #1 grew 1cm, and the control grew 2cm.
I believe plant country #1 grew a lot more than the other plants because it was listening to country music. Because the country music is softer and not as verbally abusive towards plants. I was completely off on my hypothesis because the country music did change the growth of the plant, and the rap music changed the growth in a bad way and made it so it did not grow as much.
Next time, I would switch the rap to rock and see if it is the genre of music that affects the plants rather than. Water is another thing that may have affected the plant growth, and the density of the soil. We should have made the amount of water and how it gets water a controlled variable. The end.
For the last day of the POD, we modified this chicken and rice in wine recipe to meet our taste, budget, and legal needs. The original recipe called for four boneless chicken breasts, four tablespoons of butter, half a cup minced onion, two tablespoons minced garlic, one cup fresh mushrooms, one to two cups of chicken broth, half a cup dry white wine, and three-fourths of a cup of rice. Instead of wine we used nothing, because wine is illegal to have on school grounds. Instead of mushrooms we used carrots because we like carrots more. Instead of one cup chicken broth, we used beef and chicken bullion cubes because we didn’t have the broth. We used thighs instead of breasts to fit our budget. We used a cup of rice instead of three-fourths a cup. Finally, we added mixed Italian herbs.
Step 1: Brown the chicken in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet.
Step 2: Scatter onion and garlic over chicken.
Step 3: Add carrots, cook for five minutes.
Step 4: Add the rice.
Step 5: Pour broth over chicken and rice; make sure there is no rice on top of the chicken.
Step 6: Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
It came out delicious. No, it was not what I expected. The rice was really moist, and the texture was a little off, but it still tasted delicious, even though I don’t normally like rice. The carrots tasted good and the texture was soft and cooked. I believe the carrots gave the rice its moist and kind of sticky texture. In the end it was one of the best chicken and rice meals that I’ve ever had.