220. Asa Adams Elementary Greenhouse | Shaping Green Future Growers | Joe the Mason Returns | Orono, Maine

Asa Adams Greenhouse 1.jpg


Joe the Mason Greenhouse coordinator and awesome Elementary School custodian returns from Orono Maine to tell us about the school greenhouse he cares for, and the pollinator garden he’s going to create this spring with a grant from the Audubon Society! As well as his pickling successes and many other golden seeds! You won’t want to miss this episode!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you for having me back on ! I feel like an honor to be back on the second time. I am a custodian at our ASA Elementary.

Asa Adams Elementary Greenhouse Joe the Mason

I am an organic minded grower in the backyard

this year I was selected to be the greenhouse coordinator and I was selected

that is

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

So it was back when I was a kid in the same house I was living in now, my grandfather

qualtiy control

wipe the dirt off on the shorts


pull a accept

when I moved back to maine in 2007

I started gardening on a

back in the house that I grew up in

dug the back up again

go to lawn

dad mowing it

dug it back up 20’ x 50’

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Tell us about something that grew well this year.

Once we

not a good year for my garden

grew well

my tomatoes

back to hand tilling g

more earth worm friendly turn over

new seeds

one of my ag friends here

seeds were too old


here’s a tip I wasn’t aware of

planting all of my seeds 1/4 inch deep

a seed isn’t supposed to be planted more then a 1/4 inch

what makes it grow and the food to get there

if it doesn’t have enough

too deep

not envought to

hear it it makes total sense

use all these lessons

  • carrots
  • beets
  • peas
  • basic garden

still grow brussels sprouts because I love those

cucumbers and zucchinis


I pickle everything!

actually for Christmas my friends got me this book:


The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round 

small gardeners

we don’t get 300 cukes

  • asparagus
  • taragon and shallots

great book

fallen in love with pickling

  • carrots
  • fiddleheads
  • Maine item
  • cucumbers
  • pumpkin skin

you use

its a sweet pickle

clove an cinamin

candy ginger

it’s there’s some labor invovled

sterilizing your jars

if your

grocery store

6lbs bought the recipe

spring comes

taragon is a spring crop

pick up some from them

pickle those


going back to the asparagus

going to follow it

I’ve been talking about it

putting it in in

getting it so you get the size

just what I read when I was first looking into it

you put the seeds in

I might see some growth

they’re short and thin

you can cut them

the roots stay in tack

following season

root structure becoming more sound

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

I’ll put the asparagus in

follow my friends advice

carrots zuc

fun seeds

green house

to put seeds in to grow at the school

year before I had a tomato blight wipe out my tomatoes

gonna have to wait 5 years

that sounds like a challenge

at the other end of the garden

the rest of the garden


was great had a great garlic crop

120 bulbs got a 115

only put in 70 bulbs last fall

first year of using garlic bulbs from the garlic I grew last year

saved bulbs

first generation

use garlic

Asa Adams Greenhouse 7 holiday

So our greenhouse was built in 1986 I wasn’t around when it was built

have ogne in and watered plants

as coordinator

part of what your tasked with you have to incorporate some sort of student activity throughout the year

enter the school through main doors

just off to the left

other side is the lobby

basic plants in there

ivy spider plants

small jade plant

pretty big plant


ficus tree

in the green house

looks great fills up some open space

very healthy

so it’s basically

used as a teaching space

one on one that teachers do with students

I maintain it

25 feet by 12 feet

people love to go join there and sit

teachers will go through

on a nice day

grapes that grow outsdie too

outside is not as well taken care of in

within the greenhouse

a couple of the things I am lining up

Maine Ag in the Classroom

been around since about 2008

funded by grants and sponsors

maine ag license plate

choose when you get a car

money from that

teaching ag which is a big business in maine

to kids

3rd weekend in

weed and ME

and ag

they have a book

one book for every classroom

have volunteers each week

read the book

AppleSauce Day by Lisa Amstutz and Talitha Shipman

Applesauce Day!

passed on through the generations


kitchen manager

each classroom

  • so for a special reader
  • will go into each kindergarten class
  • one reader for each 4th grade class
  • pre-k
  • 19 classrooms
  • 19 readers in that day

and the book is left in the

apples are big crop in Maine  too!

I was thinking there was someone who told me that Maine was a good place to start a farm if you were new to farming looking for land.

at that time

three years ago

Maine’s average age of farmers was like in the 30s

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners


works with farmers helps them secure loans to start farms


They can buy a small plot of land here and get a lot of produce

or animals for meat they can still have a small farm and produce cheeses and some milk for people. IDK if the median age has changes. 


800 farms in Maine

for a population of a million and a half people quite a few farm, it’s not easy, it’s a hard life but they are obviously passionate.

I keep hearing these statistics that a small farm produces more food per acre then these big conventional farms.

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Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!


Asa Adams snowy Dec 2017

Pollinator Garden Coming

Another way doing this in conjunction with some other teachers

co-sponsored by the Audubon Society

We were selected to have a pollinator garden built

were still choosing the site 10 foot by 20 foot


and lots of colors!

One of my first guests was Elizabeth Leonard from EARLS kitchen gardens in NY and she talked about how soothing it is for kids to have gardens to be in!


rusty patch bumble bee

Audubon is selected the flowers those bees are drawn too

hasn’t been seen up this far in Maine in years

were also gonna focus on butterflies like monarch butterflies

some of the kids plant flowers

in addition to the ones



offers like $50k in garden themed projects

because I’m new to this

have this info saved

my budget is $300

I can get organic potting soil

worm castings

pet pots

plenty for that m

urban garden center

I just placed an order

pick it up next week

Once a week I water the flowers

Mr. Joe can I water the flowers this week

they’re always interested to help the

get help watering the flowers this Friday


even thoguh most of the flowers

keep a small section

plant marigold seeds

have those put out in the pollinator garden

if space issues

kids have a marigold

you grew it

talking with our principal

how can I get a group

hey Im gonna do a flower planting

after school on such a date

maybe bring


if they want to come in plant with natural ingredients

one more thing

they break kids out to do a book read

a video

gym teacher

this teacher’s also on the committee for the

bee houses

not every bee has a hive

leaf cutter

mason bees

they lay eggs in trees

have a whole burrowed

cover in mud

bee houses

scrap wood

drilling holes into them

allow that seed

egg laying

ill cut the wood

have the kids sand the edges

kids aren’t hurt

kids can paint them

hang them outside

in the vicinity on the trees around…

gonna be a busy next few months

next year I should be able to get a little more organized


greenhouse coordinator

had a garden club

went to the local flower show

in Bangor

Asa Adams

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Green house club

IDK if I would get there

flower greenhouse

plants greenhouse

into the hall

2 sides connect to the school

there’s a big window

get to decorate with the harvest in the fall thee


definitely not a decorator

people were kind

Asa Adams Elementary Greenhouse

Here’s something I want to tell you

back to organics

through some friends through the University of maine lives on a horse farm

let me go out

there’s this enormous compost pile


taller then me

20-30 feet wide

old compost in front


how about I come out and turn compost

spend like an hour

climb to the top

I got paid

nice workout

and I listened to podcast

put on my muck boots

smell would be awful

no smell at all

not what you would think

I don’t wanna use a phrase

take a week off drive

that’s about it

Im looking through that small batch preserving

jams and chutneys

such a great book

put some thought into

its as much for our benefit as yours….

need to go to my johnny’s seed catalog


The frugal green girl got my first pickling recipe

now I’ve expanded out

pickled carrots

oh my grandmother made pickled carrots

disc golfers

my local disc golf community

bought $250 pickled


brought a jar of the asparagus

to indoor putting

at the basket

had like 10 people say Ill buy these from you

when you make them let me know

there’s some labor intense

now the greenhouse thing

stipend associated with the

incorporating teaching

drove me to start looking into what I could to

Id like to do a little plant some bean seeds

maybe it will

that may be

look forward to having the first thing that I am involved with

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tried to recruit some speakers through my professor friend Eric

weed ecology


grad students

already signed up schools back in

6 weeks




that’s part of what MAITC

part of what they offer

local university

people who can reach out to students directly


and don’t forget if you need help getting started check out our new 

Free Garden Course.comFree Organic Garden Course Website

 Free Organic Garden Course 

Remember you can get the  2018 Garden Journal and Data Keeper to record your garden goals in 


You can  download the first 30 days here   while you’re waiting for it to come in the mail. 


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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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