Back to school means back to lessons and in the warmer regions, I think that should include garden lessons. And why not? Kids LOVE gardening. And when you love what you do, it’s easy to learn!
Not sure if it’s a possibility at your school? Never hurts to ask. All you need is a small plot of land in a sunny spot, a nearby water source, and an adult willing to supervise. Gardens are easy when you have an assortment of hands involved. Literally. And fun!
You can find lessons here on my website, scour the internet or make some of your own. The University of Florida is also a great source for school gardens. They even host an annual school garden contest. Once you decide on a spot, outline your garden and commence digging. Middle schoolers and upper elementary kids LOVE this part. Little ones can help rake the weed debris.
Next, mark your beds. Wide, raised beds are preferred, and line your walkways. Helps to keep the weeds at bay. We do like to keep the maintenance manageable. I learned THAT from my children!
“Weeding? Why were weeds even invented?”
Can’t answer that one for you, except maybe oxygen? They’re green, they must help the environment, right? Either way, it’s amazing what a group of energetic kids can accomplish!
Last, choose your seeds. Everything tastes better when you grow it yourself, but do begin with the most popular vegetables suitable for your region. Think: potatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, green beans, peppers, watermelon… This list goes on, but these vegetables provide for an easy start to any garden.
And don’t forget the herbs! Rosemary is always a winner (shown in the center of the picture below), as are basil and parsley. Once you’ve chosen your seeds (or transplants, if you so desire), let the festivities begin!
Of course when you have this many kids in nature at one time, you never know what exciting things you’ll discover. “Look there!”
“What is it?”
“A beautiful ladybug. Better than grubs and snails!”
For climbing beans, consider using an existing fence line for climbing green beans. A trellis works great—and can do double-duty as a bean fort! Trellis formed into walls and ceiling can create some serious magic…
As part of the process, designate an area nearby for a compost pile. Now, all those scraps from lunch and snack time won’t go to waste. Well, technically they’ll still be waste, but now it will be waste you can use. Talk about recycling, this is it!
And in the middle of it all, the children will learn the meaning of hard work (trust me, weeding and tilling is NOT for the weak). But when combined with the camaraderie of working together, the basics of botany, the value of recycling, and the wonderous thing we call life as they watch plants sprout, grow, produce—the kids will be amazed and delighted. Not to mention excited over any excuse to get OUT of the classroom. Does it get any better?
It does. When you get to eat what you’ve grown. From harvest to plate, kids love to eat their produce.
So consider a school garden in your area and share the adventure of gardening. It’s easier than you think!