Back to Gardening

So once you’ve got your program underway, the school garden (according to the authors) needs to be treated as a “healthy outdoor classroom”.

“Some of the greatest pleasures of an outdoor classroom are the unanticipated creatures that will flock to the new habitat.” That is how chapter 6 begins. I think unanticipated things in general are what make teaching so exciting.

Some ground rules to keep your soil healthy:

  • Never dig the soil when it’s wet (I did not know this)
  • Find a good source of organic matter to add to the soil a couple times a year such as compost or well-rotted manure (our students throw their rinds and other compostable materials in bins and our 5th graders learn and organize how to make compost. Now they will have a great spot to use that compost)
  • Do everything you can to nurture the micro- and macroorganisms in your soil. – don’t let the soil dry out  -don’t let the soil get over solarized by too much direct sunlight -add mulch several times a year

Things to learn about:

  • Cover Crops
  • Composting
  • Vermicomposting
  • Manure
  • Mulch
  • Soil Resuscitation
  • Detecting potential contaminants
  • No-till or Lasagna gardening
  • Organic Plant Health
  • Organic Pest Control
  • Anti-fungal spray
  • Insecticidal Soap
  • Sluggo
  • Copper tape
  • Biological Control / Attracting beneficial insect predators
  • Manual removal (of pests)

Of course the main thing is to keep it organic and have students as the stewards of the garden.

Warnings – in a city, you may get vandalism (stolen plants or tools, or graffiti on tool sheds). When this is done, make it a teachable moment, clean it up and proceed. Getting neighbors involved on the weekends is another good way to stave off this element. Finally, garden safety is very important. Here is a suggested set of rules for garden safety and courtesy:

Garden Rules

  • Hold hand tools below the waist with sharp points facing down.
  • WALK throughout the garden
  • Ask before picking or harvesting
  • Be courteous to your fellow classmates and don’t throw sand or other materials.
  • Do not squish bugs
  • Conserve water
  • Hold large tools below the shoulders
  • Bring all supplies back to the shed after use.

Last week a coworker had some of the teachers out to her place. Yet another wonderful gardner with a green thumb. I think I’m in good hands. Below are a couple of pictures from her garden.


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