There are mums, and there are Mums. The Roots & Shoots initiative, a part of Mid-Prairie’s Home School Assistance Program (HSAP), is growing the later for their fall mum fundraiser …
There are mums, and there are Mums. The Roots & Shoots initiative, a part of Mid-Prairie’s Home School Assistance Program (HSAP), is growing the later for their fall mum fundraiser set to run from Sept. 13-16.
With a beautiful round shape, dense with leaves and flowers, the mums grown by teacher Laura Mallory and her students are showstoppers. The time and care put into the mums is evident from the moment you lay eyes on them. It’s no wonder the mums become the talk of the neighborhood.
This is Roots & Shoots’ fourth year growing the mums, and “I think we’ve now gotten it down to a science where we know exactly what to do, how to do it, and how to produce a good mum,” Mallory says.
To create that lovely shape and fullness, Mallory and her students plant three plugs in a triangle shape; that odd number encourages them to grow together rather than split apart. For their larger combo pots, they plant four mum plugs in the corners and Purple Fountain Grass in the center.
For both single and combo pots, timing is everything. Students and their families helped plant the plugs on June 1, just before the end of the school year.
“The kids come, and we get an assembly line going,” Mallory explains. “One person opens the dirt bag and goes down the line filling the black pots, and then we put the triangle plugs in. Then we have the kids put them in rows, and then another person puts the three drip irrigation lines in each.”
They gave the plants the time and attention they needed to get off to a strong growing season, and then headed off for their summer breaks. Mallory kept an eye on the irrigation system (purchased last year with money from previous plant fundraisers) through the summer until students returned this month, eyes wide at how the mums have grown.
To time the flowers’ blooming to coincide with the mid-September fundraiser, Mallory chose plants with mid-September bloom weeks. Because they bloom a bit later in the season than most garden center mums, they will continue to flower right up to the first frost.
This year Roots & Shoots is growing five different color mums: Spicy Cheryl Orange, Chelsey Pink, Chelsey Coral, Mila Red, Pomona Violet, and Sparkling Cheryl Yellow. Over 600 plants are ready to decorate porches and entryways, decks and gardens.
When you come out to the HSAP building at 1592 Angle Rd. SW, Kalona, to pick up your mums, you might consider bringing a truck or trailer, especially if purchasing multiples, as these plants are large. You may also want to bring blankets or towels to protect upholstery from dirt.
Mallory takes an active role in designing the Roots & Shoots program, choreographing the growing seasons, and organizing the spring and fall fundraisers, but when it comes time for customer service on sale days, students and parents take over. You can expect students to eagerly load plants into your vehicle and accept payments.
“That’s the part I love,” Mallory says. “People get interaction with the people who actually planted [the mums].”
Because it is a fundraiser, the single and combo plants don’t have fixed prices, but suggested donations. The suggested donation for a single pot is $15 and combo pot is $35, although you are welcome to give other amounts.
The funds raised keep the Roots & Shoots program self-sustaining and have allowed for upgrades, such as the irrigation system. Beyond that, however, Mallory is hopeful that they will be able to build an outdoor picnic shelter near the playground next spring. After the fall mum fundraiser, this may be achievable; in the HSAP’s library, a display board shows five different options for the shelter, and parents and students are enjoying casting their votes.
For first pick of the mum pots, drop by the fundraiser at the MSAP building, 1592 Angle Rd. SW, Kalona, from Sept. 13-15 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sept. 16 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Remaining mums will be available at the Kalona Farmers Market on Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., downtown Kalona. Tell your friends.