Gardens Update News

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Gardens Initiative

  • Ebinport Classroom Gardens - Watch a Video about our DHEC Champions of the Environment Award





    Last Year...

    Our fall season started off with Kindergarteners enjoying a 5 Senses experience in the garden. They listened to bees, smelled herbs, touched rough and soft leaves, looked for colorful flowers and tasted minty sage as they brushed their teeth with the leaves! After planting their garden beds with cool weather veggies, 1st graders learned

    how they eat carrot roots, celery stems, lettuce leaves, broccoli flowers, corn seeds and strawberry fruit. Just about every 1st grader begged to sample each of these healthy foods! 3rd graders learned about the various types of rocks and soil, how they are made, and the roles they play in our environment. Rocks were broken to make sand, and compost was turned to help make humus soil. Plantation crops such as cotton, rice, and indigo, and Native American corn, beans and squash plants were viewed and touched. All of these plants play a part in the 3rd grade South Carolina history lessons.     

    Just after Columbus Day, 4th graders explored the garden finding Old and New World plants that are in our gardens today due to the Columbian Exchange. Their history lessons in class and in the garden helped our 4th graders understand just how big a role food and spices played in driving world exploration! The ongoing battle with rain this fall created a wonderful opportunity for 5th graders to learn about Landform changes. The weathering, erosion and deposition of our plants and ground mulch were clearly seen and understood. 5th grade Mixtures and Solutions lessons would not be complete without students making their own garden grow Mint Tea. Fresh mint leaves were crushed for the tea, while the students observed sugar beets that are grown and processed into the white granular sugar we use for coffee, tea and candy. Last, but certainly not least, our very patient 2nd graders came to the garden for a harvest bonanza!! They harvested sweet potatoes, carrots, sugar beets, dried beans, peppers, lettuce and 

    broom corn. Prior to harvest, they learned how the changes in the weather affect plants and times of harvest. 2nd graders study weather throughout the year, and are able to see and experience weather changes in the garden from their classroom hall all year long!


    These exciting and fun lessons for our Ebinport students would not be possible without the help of some very special parent volunteers. Thank you so much for your help and dedication to our students education!!!!!


    Ebinport Garden – Beautiful Blessings!

    Time flies when you’re having fun! It’s hard to believe that this will be the fourth growing and learning season in our Ebinport Gardens! What a beautiful Spring it has been, with your students participating as actors,composters, planters and happy, healthy herbivores in the garden.

    As part of our grant award from South Carolina DHEC, we were able to film a short commercial featuring our Classroom Gardens as Champions of the Environment. This commercial ran in the Columbia area in April, and can be viewed on YouTube via the following link: (Warning: this will take you to a youtube site that is off of the Rock Hill School District's webpage)

    1st, 4th and 5th grade student actors helped make this a huge success! Money from this grant allowed us to purchase a compost tumbler that could be used to turn both garden and kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich soil amendments.  3rd grade classes learned more about the decomposers in the composter that break down the scraps to help make our healthy soil.  4th graders have added their kitchen scraps and kept the composter turned, while 5th graders learned that even decomposers like maggots have a very important place in our ecosystem!! Our Kindergarteners have made friends with some great decomposers - earthworms and fungi. The garden welcomed the gift of their wiggly worms to the soil!

    Our Champions grant also allowed us to purchase row covers, plastic mulch and trays to help with protection and growth of our plants. 4th graders learned how the light properties of the translucent row covers can protect tender plants, and the black plastic mulch can absorb the warmth of the sun and to help plants grow.

    The blessing of rain helped the seeds planted by our 1st grade classes grow into lush, green plant sprouts. Soon, our 1st graders will have the joy of harvesting the garlic they planted last fall! Crops that like warm weather (corn, beans, squash) will be planted by our 2nd graders this week.

    Our 5th graders have proved to be healthy herbivores, as they ate serving after serving of garden grown lettuce. They heaped on the tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries to round out their delicious salads! 2nd grade classes will be showered with salads to wrap up another amazing Spring in our Ebinport Gardens!


    Welcome to Fall 2014 in the Ebinport Garden!  As always, I love to share with you all the facts and fun of what's growing in the garden right now!

    Did you know?

    Indigo was the second most important crop in South Carolina (behind Rice) in the 1700’s? A 16 year old girl named Eliza Lucas, who inherited her father’s plantation, was the first person to begin commercially growing it. We have two types of Indigo growing in our garden right now, that we can soak, ferment and treat with lye to produce a natural blue dye – similar to the blue in our state’s flag!

    Sunflowers are grown in areas damaged by nuclear radiation. They were planted at both the Chernobyl and Fukcushima Daiichi disaster areas, where they have successfully removed harmful toxins from the soil. We have Sunflowers growing inside and outside the courtyard, being used as a trellis for climbing plants just as Native Americans did for hundreds of years.

    Sesame plants in our garden currently have beautiful flowers and seed pods growing. The phrase “Open Sesame” comes from the way sesame pods readily burst open at the slightest touch when they are ripe. So, if you come out to the garden and see plastic bags around the tops of the sesame plants, you’ll know I am trying to retrieve the seeds for our next planting! Sesame was brought to South Carolina by Nigerian slaves who called it “Benne” and considered it good luck.  Benne wafers are a great historic treat to eat when visiting Charleston.

    Borage is an herb that has been grown since Roman times. It is has a cucumber like flavor, and is often used in salads and cream cheese spreads. It can be used medicinally for skin disorders like eczema or dermatitis, and is often found in skin products. It has been very useful for us in the garden as a pest deterrent. Borage helps to repel Hornworms, which usually devour August Tomatoes. This year, I planted Borage around most of my Tomatoes, and they have done great. However– the Hornworms decided to destroy my Peppers instead!  The beautiful blue star flowers of Borage can be seen in the garden, and the migrating Hornworms have become new pets for some of our visiting students!
    Chinese Red Noodle Beans grow 18-24” long and the plants can reach 10’ in length! They are an amazing plant to observe, and can be seen growing on the Ebinport Garden trellis as well as the picket fence just outside the arbor. These long beans are best steamed or sautéed, but not boiled like regular southern green beans. They have a nutty, mushroom taste, and make a beautiful addition to a stir fry.  Come see this incredible plant!

    "Carolina Gold” Rice from South Carolina’s 18th century plantations is once again growing beautifully along the arbor fence line. Rice was the first crop to make SC planters rich, and it was what originally brought slaves to our state (not Cotton). I will have to cover our Rice this year with bird netting, as I almost lost the whole seed crop last year to birds! I will remove the netting for lessons.

    Come visit the garden to see unique plants such as the Toothache Plant (leaves numb inside of mouth) and the Sensitive Plant (leaves fold up when rubbed with finger). Lots of other great regulars will be planted this fall – Collards, Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Pak Choi, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach and more!

    See you soon, Kelly Sebastian

    Lastly, I am eager to recruit parents/grandparents who would be willing to regularly help out in the garden. Physical labor, lots of bending down, heat and cold tolerance are required, but “horticultural therapy” does wonders for your mind and body! Please email me if you are interested

    Articles from The Herald last year:  
    April 25, 2014 Herald Online Article: Kindergartners learn about fresh food and worm poop
    March 14, 2014 Herald Online Article:  Learning and Growing in the Garden