Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of September 21, 2020


Weekly Nature Note

Autumnal Equinox and the Garden

The first day of Autumn is this week (September 22)! Here are a few videos about the Autumnal Equinox:

A very straightforward video on the Equinox

For those who want to get a little nerdier about the Equinox

Here at Common Ground, the coming of fall brings reminders of spring. The cooler weather means that some of the crops we planted in early spring (like snap peas and spinach) can be planted again for a fall harvest. Plants are very sensitive to temperature. Some seeds will not germinate if it is too hot or too cold. And in the heat of summer, some plants “bolt,” or flower, to produce seeds before it gets too hot to survive. Even the flavor changes. Bolted spinach is bitter, and snap peas grown in too much heat are not as sweet. On the flip side, when it gets cold, particularly when the first frosts come in October, most plants in the garden will die.

Light also plays an important role in plant growth. Some plants need long days to flower, while others will only flower when there are longer nights. In the Common Ground garden this year, gardener Tim is growing some beans given to him as gifts from his friends in Haiti. Haiti, in addition to having a warmer climate, is much closer to the equator than we are. Closer to the equator, the length of day and night is more equal throughout the year. Many tropical plants are used to both the heat and the equal day and night of the equator. The trick when growing equatorial plants in Connecticut is that sometimes those plants need less sunlight to begin flowering, but still like the heat. In the hottest July and August weather, these plants will grow and grow, but won’t flower. Right now we are in a very small window where the temperatures are still warm enough for these plants to be comfortable, and the sunlight is just right for them to flower. With any luck, the special bean plants in our garden will produce some beans before it gets too cold for them!


Nature activity of the week

Activity 1: Seed Saving

Autumn is a great time to save some seeds for next year! That way, you can grow your favorites again next year, without having to buy seeds!

Check out this fun seed-saving activity from our friends at

And if you’re excited about seed-saving, join us for the Seedkeeping workshop we are holding at Common Ground (both in person and virtual options available!) on October 2. (See below for details.)


Activity 2: Autumn Scavenger Hunt

Get outside and explore! A scavenger hunt is a fun way to give your outdoor explorations some direction. Try these scavenger hunt sheets (I particularly love that one is for seeing and one is for smelling and hearing!) or this longer one.



As we explore ways to teach and learn safely in the context of COVID (and the regular upcoming cold and flu seasons), here are some ideas on taking learning outside.


Hike of the Week

Big picture

Seaside Park

Each week we will share a kid-friendly hike or other outdoor adventure.

This week, we take a lighthouse adventure in Bridgeport. Read more here.


Seekkeeping Workshop with Sarah Rose Kareem!

Join us on Friday, October 2 for an adult workshop to learn the basics of seed saving. In person and virtual spots are available.


Weekly Video

In this week's Forest Find, Alexa teaches us about sassafras on the last full day of summer


About this series

Our programs for children at Common Ground are place based, hands on, and focus on community, friendship, and nature-based learning and play.

In this time of virtual learning and social distancing, we seek to support teachers and families in getting outside in safe and healthy ways. We hope this series provides content and activities to help your students or your family engage in nature-based learning, whether you are learning in person or virtually.