Master Gardener in the Garden: T.C. Garden Club at T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria

Written by Christa Watters, Certified Master Gardener

Certified Master Gardener Patrick Earle (MGNV Class of 2011) teaches environmental science at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, where he also advises the T.C. Garden Club. The club holds an annual plant sale at which it sells tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, marigolds and other plants raised by the members from seed. Last year the club raised enough money through the sale to purchase materials to convert its organic vegetable garden into raised beds. The beds were built as a Boy Scout Eagle Scout project by Henry Anderson, a senior at T.C. Williams High School.  The club’s vegetable garden, which features compost bins and rain barrels and demonstrates principles of  sustainability and organic gardening in action, is part of the Chinquapin Community Gardens adjacent to the high school.

Last year the club harvested peas, carrots, potatoes, chard, and garlic for their own use, and enough lettuce to donate dozens of bags to ALIVE (Alexandrians Involved Ecumenically), a local charity. Before summer set in, club members planted sweet potatoes and butternut squash, harvested in early fall, and then planted cool weather crops of kale, spinach and more lettuces, as well as broccoli and turnips. The spinach is still producing! Patrick’s classmate Christa Watters serves as advisor and mentor to the club. Wendy Sparrow, who coordinates garden programs for Alexandria City Public Schools, also works with the group regularly. This spring a new crop of gardeners is planting cool-weather crops again.

The T.C. Williams Garden Club will hold a plant sale from Thursday, April 11 through Thursday, April 18 between 3:30pm and 5pm (except Saturday and Sunday).  On Monday, April 15th plants may be picked up between 9am and 5pm).   Plants can be picked up at T.C. Williams High School in room E-132. Please download the TC Williams Plant Sale Order Form 2013 and fill out. If you are submitting your order electronically, please send it as an attachment to the following email address: tcwgardenclub@gmail.com. If you are submitting a paper copy, please drop it in Patrick Earle’s mailbox at the school.

Members of the T.C. Williams Garden club harvested radishes and garlic in May 2012. Faculty advisor and Master Gardener Patrick Earle is at center; club President Katja Shimkin is at left.

Members of the T.C. Williams Garden club harvested radishes and garlic in May 2012. Faculty advisor and Master Gardener Patrick Earle is at center; club President Katja Shimkin is at left.

Students turn compost in bins before adding it to improve the soil of the organic vegetable beds at the T.C. Williams Discovery Garden.

Students turn compost in bins before adding it to improve the soil of the organic vegetable beds at the T.C. Williams Discovery Garden.

The T.C. Williams Garden Club grew lettuce for students' use and enough to give away large quantities to ALIVE, a local charity.

The T.C. Williams Garden Club grew lettuce for students’ use and enough to give away large quantities to ALIVE, a local charity.

Sugar snap peas were a popular harvest, often eaten right off the supporting fence.

Sugar snap peas were a popular harvest, often eaten right off the supporting fence.

Some students chose to plant personal mini-plots for particular crops or plants, and were responsible for keeping them weeded and watered.

Some students chose to plant personal mini-plots for particular crops or plants, and were responsible for keeping them weeded and watered.

 

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