By: Kathleen Caffee/Science Teacher
Thanks to the research and hard work of our senior class at Ocean Academy, we will be going native. Native plants are plants that have naturally existed in local areas for thousands if not millions of years. They are well adapted to their local environment and therefore easy to care for!
We started out by exploring our soils. The students were fortunate to have a guest speaker, Becky Laboy, from the Ocean County Soil Conservation District to share a lot of valuable information on soil. Did you know that all the soil in the world can be made up of one or a mix of the following: clay, silt and/or sand? Later the students used their new knowledge to do a variety of tests on the garden soil. They tested soil drainage as well as the percentages of different textures. Using science skills and some math they determined that our garden consists of sandy loam. They also prepared a sample to be sent to the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, an Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Our gardeners then researched the variety of native perennials in New Jersey. Using the information they gathered about our garden, they found plants that do well in the part sun, medium-high drainage soils and what it attracts. Each student voted for their top 5 and the class together what the garden should have. With their short list, students then created their own garden design to scale. Using the internet, they found a nursery that sells their plants. On a sunny September day, Cicconi Farms Inc. in Jackson, allowed our seniors to walk their nursery with a guide and pick out their flowers. They had so much variety that it was difficult to limit our plant selection!
The seniors hard work is sure to pay off! We are looking forward to seeing how our plants do in the next year!