Bearded Iris Care Guide

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Iris germanica

Native to Central and Southern Europe

Native soil conditions: Bearded irises are tolerant to most soil pHs, but thrive in soils with a slightly acidic pH of approximately 6.8. Well-drained soils are preferred for bearded irises or heavy soils with humus added to improve drainage. 

Native light conditions: Bearded irises need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. They will not flower if grown in shady areas. 

Native rainfall: The native range of the iris includes areas that may be subject to drought, but do not get extensive rainfall. Therefore, the bearded iris is drought resistant and does not require heavy watering. When they first begin to grow, bearded irises require at least 1 inch of water weekly. 

Groundwater quality parameters: It can be hypothesized from the soil and moisture requirements of the bearded iris that groundwater quality is not affected much by this plant. It requires well-drained soil, which means that the groundwater will be filtered quickly by the soil. There will be more groundwater in the table of this soil than water retained in the soil for plant use. 

Unique nutrient requirements: Bearded irises do not have any really unique nutrient requirements, but they can be negatively affected by excess nutrients, especially in the rhizome stage. Soil high in nitrogen can encourage rhizome rot which can be detrimental to the forming plant. 

  • Drainage, sunlight, acidic
  • High nitrogen that causes rhizome rot
  • Poorly drained soil that inhibits plant growth
  • I would like to learn what nutrients this plant would require in a fertilizer to maximize its success.

Sources: 

Featured Plants – Bearded Iris. (2013, April 17). Retrieved from https://extension.umd.edu/learn/featured-plants-bearded-iris

Growing Irises. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.almanac.com/plant/irises#
Morris, J. (2011). How to Plant and Grow Bearded Iris. Retrieved from https://www.irises.org/About_Irises/Cultural%20Information/Grow_Bearded.html

Shasta Daisy Care Guide

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Brief Overview

Leucanthemum x superbum, commonly known as the shasta daisy, is a perennial flowering plant mainly used in outdoor landscaping. This simple, but beautiful plant requires full sun exposure and their growing season begins in early summer and ends in early fall. The shasta daisy is a quadruple hybrid from the oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), English field daisy (Leucanthemum maximum), Portuguese field daisy (Leucanthemum lacustre), and the Japanese field daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum). Because of this, the shasta daisy can use sexual reproduction to reproduce. This means that you can plant shasta daisy seeds and the hybrid will be produced. 

Requirements

To successfully sow shasta daisy seeds, you need to take the following into consideration before the planting process begins: 

  • Shasta daisies require full sunlight. Therefore, you should choose a planting spot where full sunlight is available during the day. 
  • Shasta daisies grow best in well-drained medium. If you are planting directly into the ground a loamy soil will work well. Growing in a clayey environment will not be beneficial for the plant. 
  • Shasta daisies require moderate fertilization. You do not need to add much fertilizer to the medium. 
  • Shasta daisies should be planted in spring or early summer. They can be divided up to late summer. 

The Process of Planting

  • After choosing an adequate location, loosen the soil in the spot you would like to plant the seed. 
  • The seeds should be placed 1/8th inch under the soil and lightly covered. 
  • The area should be kept moist until germination occurs. 
  • Germination should begin within two weeks of planting the seeds. 

Once seeds have sprouted, they can be moved to provide more space for the plants. To successfully move and care for the plants: 

  • The recommended age to move shasta daisies is three years. The plant is fully developed and has flowered. 
  • To move the plant, first, loosen the soil in the desired area. Plants should be planted about one to two feet apart. 
  • Dig into the soil approximately twelve to fifteen inches. 
  • The plant should be placed with the root system level with the soil surface. 
  • Gently fill in the space around the plant. 
  • You should try to divide shasta daisies every three to four years in the correct growing seasons.

Classroom Tech Tools Masterlist

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Every efficient classroom should be utilizing tech tools to improve students’ tech literacy skills and provide organization. Here is a master list of my personal favorite tech tools:

Research

Note Taking/Organizing

Engaging Students

Assessment Tools

Cloud Storage

Presentations

Photo Editing

Graphic Design

Instruction

Scheduling & Reminders

Videos

Online Classrooms

Class Websites/Blogs

Word Maps

Chrome Extensions

Education News for Teachers

Teacher Resources

Bonsai Basics

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The art of bonsai has been around since it originated in 1700s China and is still widely practiced today. The main purpose of bonsai is to gain a connection between man and nature. By adapting nature to a certain desired aesthetic, you can control what is represented by the plant. It’s a fun and challenging way to show off your creativity. 

Bonsai can be made from any tree, but the key is pruning, trimming, and re-potting. Pruning back the branches and roots are what give the plant a miniature look. There are many different styles of bonsai. For example: 

  • Formal: A single upright trunk that tapers towards the top. 
  • Informal: A single upright trunk with well balanced curves. The top usually bends towards the front. 
  • Semi or full cascade: A single arching or cascading trunk either severely slanting or extending below the container.
  • Group or forest: Usually trees of related species representing a miniature landscape. 
  • Free form: A sparse single upright trunk- straight, slanted, or curved characterized by a simple, tasteful elegance. 

When choosing a plant for bonsai, you will want to make sure it has the following characteristics: a woody plant, tree-like growth habit, strong surface rootage, good trunk taper, proportional foliage, and healthy material. Bonsai can be done both inside and outside as well. Some examples of plants that work well for outdoor bonsai are junipers, maples, azaleas, and pines. For indoor bonsai, you will want to use a plant that cannot be allowed to freeze. For example: figs, citrus, jades, and gardenias. 

In order to have a successful bonsai, you will need to adhere to the needs of the specific plant that you have chosen. The main concern with bonsai is making sure that you do not end up with a root bound tree. Along with pruning, it is very important to re-pot your bonsai to prevent this. 

Practicing the art of bonsai is a fun and rewarding experience that people have enjoyed for hundreds of years. With practice and patience, you can create a look of your very own to represent whatever you please. This hobby is one that can be passed down for generations and generations, with dedication.

For more information on bonsai: https://jcra.ncsu.edu/events/details.php?ID=1250 

The Ultimate Amazon Classroom Wishlist

One of the best ways to get resources for your classroom in the form of donations is by creating an Amazon Wishlist. This lets your parents, community members, and other supporters know what you need in your class and gives them a simple way to donate and get the supplies sent straight to you. Here, I have compiled a list of classroom essentials you can add to your Amazon wishlist to get yours started. Just follow the links and add them straight to your wishlist!

Student Supplies:

Organization:

Teacher Tools:

Safety & Room Modifications:

** This is NOT a sponsored post. Products listed reserve all rights to their names and content. The are promoted based on my personal use and opinions on the products.

The Basics of Raised Bed Gardening

Gardening is a fun, relaxing, and rewarding experience, but it’s not always easy. One of the most difficult parts of gardening is bending over to tend to your plants. Not everyone has the physical ability to do this and it makes gardening for them nearly impossible, but there is a solution to this problem. Raised bed gardening is designed to make growing your own plants possible for everyone. The raised bed elevates the garden to an appropriate height, eliminating the need for anyone to bend over. It is growing in popularity in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools. Raised bed gardening is also a good way to keep pesky burrowing pets out of your garden. With an enclosed bottom, your plants roots stay safe from harm. 

Starting a raised bed garden is easy. You can purchase pre-made beds from specialty companies, purchase a raised bed kit, or make it yourself. The materials to make your own can be purchased at your local hardware store or made from recycled materials. Here are the steps to make a standard wooden raised bed: 

  1. Select a location. Make sure you have enough space to make your garden as large as you would like. You also want to choose a location that is easily accessible to water and has adequate sunlight. When you have decided on your space, position where you would like the box and dig holes for the corner posts. These posts can be a few inches into the soil to make it more permanent or just sit on the surface if you would like for it to be mobile. 
  2. Preparing your wooden posts. You will need four 4”x4” pieces of lumber for your posts. Cut them to the desired height of your bed. Raised beds can be as tall or short as you would like them. Keep in mind when deciding your width, a person’s reach is about 2 feet.
  3. Cut the side walls. You will use 2”x4”, 2”x6”, or 2”x8” boards, depending on what height you would like, to create these walls. Cut these boards for the two long sides, equal to the distance from the far edge of one corner post to the far edge of the other. Cut the short end boards to be equal to the distance between the far edges of the posts, plus the ends of the long side boards.
  4. Screw the boards into place. You will need to screw wood screws through the boards directly into the posts. This will hold all of the sides together and keep all of the soil properly contained. 
  5. Place a cloth barrier. You can use landscape fabric to line the bottom of the bed to prevent pests from entering the garden from underneath. This also prevents soil from leaking from the box. To further your pest control, you may even want to consider netting over your raised bed.
  6. Add soil. Fill the box with your desired soil about two inches from the top. A huge advantage of having a raised bed gardening is having control over the soil your plants are in. It’s also easy to add any amendments you need/want to the soil.
  7. Add plants. Fill your garden with fruits, vegetables, herbs, or any other plant you would like to grow. Have fun with your plants and enjoy watching them grow. Consider using a raised bed to start your fall gardening this year!

Raised bed gardening is a fun and simple project that you can have to enjoy in your very own backyard. From planning the location and materials for your box to choosing and caring for your plants, it’s an exciting and rewarding experience. 

Food Safety Rules You Should Be Following in Your Garden

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Whether you’re growing tomatoes in your backyard or have a ten-acre field of sweet potatoes, food safety should be a concern. When we garden, we don’t often think about the risks associated with paying little attention to food safety. We expect produce purchased from a grocery store or local market to be safely handled and ready for human consumption, so why not have the same standards for your home garden?

Here are a few rules to follow to ensure food safety in your garden:

1. Always wash your hands!

Proper hand-washing is essential for keeping pathogens off of your produce whenever handling the fruits. Gloves can carry pathogens on them, so unless you’re washing your gloves as well as you do your hands, gloves are not a great way to prevent contamination. Using hand sanitizer is also not effective. Unlike hand sanitizer, properly washing your hands with warm water and soap allows for germs to be reached in the groves of your skin. The soap breaks the surface tension of the water and the friction you create from scrubbing removes grime. Here a quick refresher of proper hand-washing procedure:

  1. Wet your hands with warm, clean water
  2. Apply soap to hands and lather by rubbing them together
  3. Scrub your hands all over for 30 seconds (sing the Happy Birthday song twice)
  4. Don’t forget the backs of your hands, fingertips, and fingernails
  5. Rinse your hands
  6. Dry hands with paper towel (this is more sanitary than a dish towel or air dryer)
  7. Turn off faucet with the paper towel

For more information on hand washing: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

2. Keep animals out of the garden.

We love our pets, but our gardens are no place for animals. Pets and wildlife have the potential to spread pathogens to produce very easily through saliva and feces. Here are a few ways to help keep wildlife from contaminating your garden:

  • Fence in your garden to keep out larger wildlife such as deer
  • Use spray repellents that replicate odors such as coyote urine (can be purchased at garden supply stores)
  • Utilize raised beds for your vegetable plants to keep smaller animals such as rabbits and mice from getting to your plants
  • Cover your garden with fabric, chicken wire, netting, or grow in a hoop house
  • Grow plants that naturally repel animals such as azaleas, boxwood, daffodils, and marigolds

3. Use easy to clean equipment.

When using equipment in your garden, make sure you choose ones that are easy to clean. Stainless steel trowels, shovels, and hoes allow soil to slide off easily and make gardening a lot easier in general. Clean your equipment with household cleaners after use and storage.

4. Avoid contact between plants and your shoes.

Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing a trailer full of beautiful crops with someone standing in the trailer with it. Shoes are probably the least clean clothing item we wear, especially if you’re working in a garden. Once you let your shoes touch your produce, all the germs from everywhere you’ve been with those shoes are now on your food. This is really simple to avoid. Watch where you’re stepping in your garden and please, never stand on top of your crops on purpose.

5. Make sure everyone is aware of your rules.

Your garden, your rules! To make sure your garden is following food safety standards at all times, make sure your visitors are aware of these rules. This could be a good learning opportunity for anyone visiting your garden and ensures your produce is staying as safe as possible.

For more information on food safety: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/steps-healthy-fruits-veggies.html

Life Tips from a Plant

1. Keep your roots planted firmly.

Arguably the most important part of the plant is the root system. This is how plants get most everything they need to survive and how they stay stable. Root systems can be huge and complex, like that of an old oak tree, or as small as the first root emerging from a seed. No matter the size of your root system, it’s important. Keep your foundation strong by remembering your purpose. Don’t let a little wind knock you over. Your morals, beliefs, and ideas are what keep you grounded and stable in this world that’s constantly trying to uproot you. Stay strong!

2. Drink plenty of water.

This seems pretty self-explanatory, but so often we forget to care for our very basic needs. Without water, most plants will quickly wilt and die. It’s such a simple task to water a plant, but that simple task is the difference in successful growth or failure for the plant. So, drink plenty of water. Take some time to care about your basic needs so that you can grow.

3. It’s okay to add a little fertilizer!

You can do everything right when gardening. You can water the exact amount, have the perfect soil composition, and precisely chosen seeds. Sometimes that’s still not enough for plants to reach their full potential. We lend our plants a helping hand and add some fertilizer to brighten them up and increase their yield. We can do the same for ourselves. Ask for a helping hand to give you that extra lift you need to reach success. Don’t be ashamed to need a little more to reach that goal.

4. Give yourself room to grow.

No plant is able to grow in a box. Plants grow in open areas where they can stretch out their leaves and bloom. Sunflowers shoot the sky and vines climb up walls, but they all need space to thrive. Humans are the same. Putting yourself in a limitless environment where you can keep moving forward is essential for achieving your goals. Surround yourself with people who push you instead of hindering you. Give yourself air to breathe and allow yourself to have an open mind to reach greatness.

5. Bask in the sunlight.

Golden rays of warm, soft sunlight: another simple but complex need of a plant. Plants will turn to face sunlight no matter where they are planted. Sometimes we need to slow down and take in all the light of the world. In the fast paced society we live in, it’s easy to get stuck in a dark corner and miss the positivity we need so badly. Seek out positivity like a plant seeks out sunlight.

6. Be adaptable.

Plants are really amazing. They can store water during droughts and go dormant in cold weather just to survive until spring. They don’t give up because the odds are against them. They adapt to their environment. This is why we have so many great varieties of plants in the world. They naturally adapt and share these traits with their offspring. Don’t let the little things that get thrown in your path stop you. Adapt.

7. Grow to your full potential!

Plants have one goal in life: to grow. They have a natural drive to get as large as they possibly can and produce offspring to take over the world. Now, that’s a little extreme for humans, but we should take this determination that plants have and use it to inspire us. You can achieve your goals as long as you know that you can.

Tech Tools for a Modern Class

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It’s 2019 if you’re not using tech tools in your classroom, what are you doing?! Using technology in class helps to develop computer literacy skills in students of all grades and can be used in pretty much any classroom setting. Tech tools make your lessons more interactive and fun. What student doesn’t love the opportunity to pull out their cell phone and not get in trouble for it?

Here are a few of my favorite tech tools that make your class look super modern and fun:

1. Kahoot

Kahoot is an interactive assessment tool that lets students go head to head answering questions that you create. Students earn points for every correct question they answer and for how fast they answer. Plus, Kahoot comes with some pretty catchy music to get your class excited about the game. Kahoot is perfect for interest approaches, quick assessments, and as a review of content. If you don’t want to make your own Kahoot, you can search through hundreds of games made by other users. The best part is it’s free to use!

2. Quizizz

Another quiz game that students can join using their cell phones is called Quizziz. Quizziz not only allows you to create review games, but you can also create polls. This tool is really easy to use, and like Kahoot if you don’t want to create your own there are many many pre-made quizzes to choose from. Quizizz is also free to use, but you must prove that you are affiliated with an organization to create a teacher account.

3. Wizer

Tired of dealing with mountains of worksheets to grade? You need to check out Wizer! Wizer lets you create super cute electronic worksheets for your class. You can choose from a wide variety of question types from multiple choice to short answer. Selected choice questions are auto-graded so you can get grading done fast! This application is free to use, but your account can be upgraded to access more features.

4. Pear Deck

One of the easiest ways to make your PowerPoint presentations interactive and fun is to integrate Pear Deck. Pear Deck allows you to insert questions, polls, interactive maps, and so much more directly into your PowerPoints. You never have to close out your presentation. Answers are collected in real-time so you can immediately check for understanding. Pear Deck keeps students focused on your lesson and adds some excitement to lectures. Pear Deck is free to use.

5. Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a super easy way to organize all your classroom assignments, grades, attendance, and announcements for your class. You can create your own page for your class that includes resources and assignments. Students are added to the class via email and can download the app to their phone to access assignments outside of school. Google Classroom is free to use with your Google account.

** This is NOT a sponsored post. Websites listed reserve all rights to their names and content. The are promoted based on my personal use and opinions on the services.

How to Get FREE Worksheets for Your Classroom

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Making worksheets for your students, regardless of grade level, is a long and tedious process. Most worksheet end up being put together last minute in a word document. Here’s how to find worksheets for your class that are already made, easily edited, and way cuter than any word document.

Using Canva to Make Worksheets

I use Canva for pretty much every graphic design need I have. It’s free to use with hundreds of pre-made templates and images for you to use. It lets you edit your work online and download it to the size and quality you need. Canva really is a teacher’s best friend when it comes to organizing a classroom and catching students’ attention.

To find free printable worksheets for your classroom, go to Canva.com and make a free account so you can easily keep track of your work. Simply type “worksheet” into the search bar on the home screen and a ton of pre-made templates will show up. Choose whichever one fits your needs and edit it on the spot. There are a bunch of free design tools and some for purchase. Then save your download your design and print! It’s the fastest way I’ve found to make great worksheets in no time.

Using Google Drive Templates as Worksheets

If you aren’t using Google Drive yet, what are you doing?! Google Drive is a super easy and free way to create documents, share them with others, and collaborate with your students. On top of all the awesome feature that Google Drive offers, there are hundreds and hundreds of free templates on the template gallery that make creating worksheets for your class super easy. Some are made by Google and some are made by users. All of them are easily edited and can be downloaded from Google Docs to your computer.

The Google Drive template gallery also has a a ton of other free resources that can be used in your classroom. These include lesson plans, resumes, schedules, and even Excel templates for grading.

** This is NOT a sponsored post. Google and Canva.com reserve all rights to their names and content. The are promoted based on my personal use and opinions on the services.