Seed Starting

Starting seeds indoors Starting seeds indoors is one of the greatest joys of the vegetable growing season. In the dead of winter, we witness the magical transformation of a seed into new life. Gardening with kids provides a unique opportunity to teach life cycle lessons, and if you play your cards right, nutritious eating habits. I've had success on both counts in my own backyard vegetable garden: www.http://northernvirginiagardener.blogspot.com/ Knowing when to start seeds indoors takes some backward thinking. Find out the average date of the last frost in your area and the number of weeks before that date you should start a particular seed (the number of weeks varies and is listed on the seed package). Then count backwards on the calendar from the average last frost date. Most seeds should be started six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Some seeds can be started a few weeks before...
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What is the Value of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program?

A Virginia Cooperative Extension - Master Gardener (VCE-MG) is an individual who acts on behalf of VCE as a volunteer educator within his or her community after receiving specialized training in environmental horticulture through cooperative programming with VCE. Master Gardeners are trained to provide environmental education that meets SOL's, assist schools in establishing and maintaining schoolyard gardens, counsel homeowners about proper lawn care, and conduct environmental outreach to the general community. For 2009, we reported more than 334,000 volunteer hours statewide (up from 269,000 hours in 2008) and more than 577,000 contacts (up from 547,000 in 2008). The economic value of that volunteer service exceeds $6.7 million dollars.   Master Gardeners are only one aspect of the Cooperative Extension Programs in Fairfax County. Extension programs have had a significant impact in our community and schools by providing: SOL supported Environmental Education for community schools Childhood Obesity Prevention programs (Healthy Weights for...
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Teach Our Children to Live Green

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  0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false         "Our children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way." I'll never forget these lyrics, and the more work I do in the green sector, the more powerful they become to me. Many of us are making changes as adults to have less impact on the earth and live healthier lives. But it is not always easy, especially when it requires making changes in our daily behavior when we are already used to do things a certain way.  What if you grew up being conscious of how your daily actions impact the earth? What if recycling and unplugging your electronics every day was as much a ritual as brushing your teeth? Most of us did not grow up living green because our parents didn't know the impact our daily lives have...
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Feels Like Spring

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4   I don't know about you, but yesterday with the sun shining so brightly and the temperature in the high 40s, it almost felt like spring was in the air.  Just as nature changes for the better (in my opinion) in the spring, many of us feel the urge to bring positive change to our homes, schedules and self.   With spring, comes the desire to make our homes lighter and brighter.  Additionally,  we look for ways we can free up time to enjoy the longer days and maybe make some positive self changes a long the way ...especially if we have long forgotten our New Years resolutions. Several new clients have reminded me of the amazing, uplifting power of letting go of clutter.   For one client in particular, we had two storage units to clean out and what I estimated would take several days, ended...
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Extend the Growing Season With a Cold Frame

Given the right conditions, a vegetable garden will yield a year-round supply of fresh produce. You can extend the growing season by sheltering plants from frost in early spring, late fall, and even winter.  There are several options for protecting crops against cool weather. Your choices depend on the amount of time and money you want to invest.    Cold frames and row covers are the simplest, least expensive structures for protection from the cold. Cold frames are raised beds that are covered with a glass, fiberglass, or plastic cover. They shelter plants from wind and use the sun’s heat to warm the soil. They’re also useful in hardening off seeds before Spring planting.    The ideal location for a cold frame is a south or southeastern exposure, against a North wall that will provide further protection from the elements. Placing the bed on a slight slope will help with drainage,...
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Snow and Donuts!!

I think it is safe to say that we all are going a little stir crazy! Having an unexpected snow day in the middle of the winter can be fun, and can break up our routines, but too much snow, and too many days off from school (and work) can wreck havoc with our over packed schedules, create stress and sometimes be very demotivating. Our neighborhood streets are still pretty bad since we haven't been plowed. I have been able to get out, but on a limited basis. Yesterday, I worked out at home and after my surge of endorphins kicked in, proceeded to organize my office closet, and knock out a few work to dos that I've delayed getting to. While I was busy doing my work, I told my kids, who were home from school again, that I'd take them to Krispy Kreme donuts if they got their rooms...
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Three Elements to Organizing

I am sometimes asked by a client why a room that we have worked on together still gets disorganized.  Sometimes it is because the system needs tweaking, or it may be time again for a good purge.  Though, sometimes it is because there are some habits or behaviors that if modified, could help support the system. Usually the first phase of organizing focuses on the physical space.  This is where the most change happens.  In order to organize a space, items need to be sorted and purged.  Once a client has identified the remaining objects in a room, then the room is zoned, items are grouped by type and then a home is found for each item and/or group of items.  We then talk about storage and strategize on ways to keep the system up. This is where we talk about types of behaviors or habits that help or hurt the...
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January is Get Organized Month

Hello Brooksfield family.  I greatly appreciate this opportunity to be an occasional blogger for your school community.  I have been working in the organizing field, providing both residential and business organizing services, for over 8 years.  My motivation and passion is to assist clients, through the organizing process, to find clarity and time in their home and work lives.  Prior to starting my company, Simplify for Life, I worked in the association management field for 15 years.  Do you know that the National Association of Professional Organizers designates January as "Get Organized Month"?  I think they do so because many people have getting organized as one of their top resolutions.  Many of us, myself included, have an innate desire to start the year off right, in control, organized, so that we are prepared and ready to manage our workload and personal lives instead of being in reactive mode.  I don't know...
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Green Cleaning - Why It's Good for You and the Planet

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While there are many green practices worth adopting, switching to green cleaning products is one of those actions I advocate for both as a way of helping the environment but also of protecting our own health. Why Switch to Green Cleaning Products? A Safer Home Each day, families are put to risk by household cleaning products found throughout their homes, most of which are unregulated and untested, and many whose toxic ingredients are not disclosed on labels. According to National Geographic, only about 30% of the roughly 17,000 chemicals found in household products, including those used for cleaning, have been sufficiently tested for their effects on human health. Healthier and safer cleaning products offer natural, non-toxic, and biodegradable alternatives that are just as effective as synthetic chemical cleaners. A Safer Environment The use of synthetic cleaners has adverse effects on air and water quality, as well as land-based environmental concerns. Many...
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Green manure

Brooksfield’s garden project is off to a strong start. The two raised beds where we’ll plant vegetables and perennials require some soil amendment, and Fall is the ideal time to get started. By preparing the soil in the Fall, we’ll ensure that the garden is ready when the first warm days lure us outside. One method for restoring nutrients to soil is to plant a cover crop, or green manure. A green manure is an organic method for improving soil fertility. It’s “green” because it begins with a plant, rather than an animal. A green manure is particularly useful in preventing soil erosion and compaction. It also restores nitrogen to soil where plants with high nutrient needs were previously growing. To prepare the bed for a cover crop, or green manure, till under summer plant waste and rake the soil to remove clumps.  A cover crop can be planted as early...
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School Closing Alert

Update:  Tuesday, March 31, 2020:  Due to Covid-19, Brooksfield will be closed until further notice.   We wish our Brooksfield Community all the best during this time.  Stay healthy! We miss you already.  For all newcomers looking to tour the school, please be on the look out for a virtual tour tab on our website.  Feel free to contact Admissions Director, Sarah Krawchuk for more details.  Her email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.