What's GROWing On?

News from the MSHS Greenhouse

Have you placed your order yet?

The time has come to plant your garden... Have you placed your order yet? Sales are ongoing in the MSHS Greenhouse and there are still plenty of plants that are in need of garden homes where they will be able to grow to their fullest potential. Can you help? Use the link below to place your order today!

Sales Update

When he heard that we were selling plants to benefit scholarships for students, one customer's father had her place a $200 order for him and several of our teachers, administrators and a few students bought plants as Mother's Day gifts. It was a busy but phenomenal week of sales in the greenhouse.

We filled 37 online orders and had several walk in customers who walked out with as many as 20 items. All together we sold 40 percent of the plants we grew in this five day period... That means we have more than half of what we grew left to be sold. Place your order today for the best selection.

Visitors Welcome

Big image

...but please use the door.

Mrs. Descalzi was in the greenhouse on Monday after school quickly filling an order before leaving for the day. The feathered visitor pictured above arrived through the vent in the roof of the greenhouse. Despite opening both doors to encourage a safe exit, the feathered guest decided he was going to find his own way out, proceeding to fly through the entire greenhouse, crashing head first into several windows on his short visit. When he was stunned just right, Mrs. Descalzi was able to scoop him up and take him outside where she caught her breath as he perched for a bit on her hand - clearly posing for this fantastic photo - before flying off on his merry way.

In case you're wondering, we are pretty sure the bird is a male House Sparrow. According to the National Audubon Society's Field Guide to Birds (Eastern Region), the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), is descended from a few birds released in New York City's Central Park in 1850. This makes them an introduced species - something the Environmental Science 1 students study in their ecology unit.

The moral of the story is: If you want to visit the greenhouse, we would love to see you, but please use the door... It may be a little less exciting, but it's a lot less of a headache.

MSHS Car Show

Saturday, May 21st, 11am

200 North Wade Boulevard

Millville, NJ

We will be selling plants at the Car Show. It will be a cash-and-carry sale. Come by and say hello to Mrs. Descalzi and her Environmental Science 2 students who have worked hard to grow the plants and may one day benefit from the scholarships they fund.

Back of the House

Basil Basics

All basil varieties are pretty easy to grow. Most basils are used for culinary purposes but there are ornamental varieties. They can be planted in the ground or in containers and need just full sun and consistent watering. We have two main varieties of basil that was started by seed in March, almost eight weeks ago and is ready to be planted now.

Genovese basil is the most popular variety for making pesto, a bright green, rich and flavorful basil and cheese sauce used mainly for pasta. (A simple pesto recipe is included below.) The Genovese basil produces extra large, fragrant leaves with strong flavor. It will grow about 18 to 24 inches tall and you should plan to space your plants about eight to ten inches apart in your garden.

Sweet basil is the other variety available from our greenhouse and is a general, all-purpose basil that can also be used for pesto, or as a seasoning for just about any other dish.

Fertilize each plant and water it well when you plant it and then fertilize about every two weeks or so after that. Basil, a moisture Goldilocks, prefers the soil to be "just right" not too dry and not too wet. Water when there isn't regular rain and don't let it dry out.

Basil needs to be pruned regularly - if you are using it quickly, this isn't a problem. If the plant begins to flower it will lose some of its flavor, so avoid flowering by cutting it back, or pruning, regularly to produce fresh leaves throughout the season.

Immediately after planting, prune your plants back to just above the bottom two sets of leaves. It seems crazy to do this and you probably will second guess yourself, but do it anyway because this severe pruning encourages growth. Every four weeks or if the plant shows signs of flowering, depending on the weather and how quickly the plant is growing, this aggressive pruning can be done again.

Basil should be watered the night before you plan to harvest a large quantity as the leaves will store water and last longer when picked. Pick in the morning before the heat of the afternoon sun. When you only need a few leaves, use your fingers to pinch from the top of the plant all the way down to the next set of leaves. This keeps the plant producing lateral branches and prevents flowering.

Basic Italian Pesto

Into the bowl of a food processor, place one peeled clove of garlic, two cups of fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts*, salt and pepper. Process until finely chopped and with machine running slowly pour 1/2 cup of olive oil to get a thick, smooth consistency. Add more olive oil as needed. Turn off the food processor, remove the blade, and stir in 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

*Pine nuts, or Pignoli nuts, can be found alongside the walnuts and other nuts in your grocery store. They tend to be expensive and are normally not toasted when you buy them. They are easily toasted in a few short minutes using a dry frying pan over medium heat - be sure to keep them moving or they will burn. If you have walnuts in your cabinet, they can be substituted for the pine nuts but doing so will change the flavor of your pesto.

Millville Senior High School Greenhouse

Student-grown plants sold to fund science department scholarships for graduating seniors.