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School garden timeline

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Audrey Welch Audrey Welch 825 Points

Hello! I am from a very small, very rural school and we are just getting started on a school garden. I am familiar with growing schedules and such but how do you time it so the students get the most out of it? Last summer, I seemed to do all the work during summer break and the students only saw the beginning and the end. I want them to see the plants change and grow. We focused on vegetables (peppers and tomatoes). This year we have started a wildflower garden. I need all your tips and tricks to get the most out of our garden. Thanks in advance.

Laura Garcia Laura Garcia 400 Points

Hi Audrey! I really like your idea for a school garden. Perhaps having an indoor incupation would be helpful so the students can actively grow the seedlings and see the growth of the liitle sapplings without having to worry about weather. By having this and a set schedule (maybe a few minutes) the students can understand and continue to work with their hands in the garden. The seedlings can start off in those little starter pots that can later be moved onto the soil if climate seems to be an issue. 

Hi Audrey. I never made a garden like the one you I am joining here to see all the recommendations.??

Yolanda Pride Yolanda Pride 490 Points

I have been curious about starting a garden at my school?  I would like to know how to get started with a garden. Did you do raised boxes or did you actually till the soil at the school?  Hod did you handle irrigation? Etc?

Audrey Welch Audrey Welch 825 Points

We actually recieved a grant from our local power company (TVA) to get the garden started. We purchased a small greenhouse, raised beds and verticle planters. For water, we purchased two rain barrels and attached a hose. 

Lara Guerra Lara Guerra 550 Points

Hi! I wish I had seen this earlier! I'm a little late to this thread, but I would like to share a few stream of consciousness resources that you all might find interesting.

I run a school garden in Dallas and we can grow through the winter. If we get down into the teens during a cold snap, I will cover crops, but for the most part the kids can see something growing while school is in session. I can't speak with authority on how you would garden in colder climates, but here's a video that I thought was interesting. Perhaps this type of tunnel will help you extend your growing season. In Dallas, we start with seedlings -- my students plant broccoli, cabbage, kale, chard, lettuce, brussels sprouts, or whatever else Lowe's and Home Depot have available during the fall in the affordable 6-packs. I would love to purchase 4' pots but they're just too expensive. I also haven't figured how to start my own seedlings without sacrificing my summer, so for us the 6-packs have worked beautifully for 10 years. We can also direct sow seeds in the fall that grow throughout the winter. We have grow radish, lettuce, and cilantro from seed directly sown in the garden, but there are other schools in town that seed other things, too. 

If you're just starting your school garden, reach out to your local Master Gardener program or Agricultural Extension Agent to see if there is someone that would meet with you to discuss your climate, growing season, and the plants that grow best for you. You might even have a school garden community in your area and not know it! There are loads of online resources that outline the do's and dont's of starting a garden but for me the cardinal rule is don't try to do it all yourself. Build community from the first day or you will burn out!

Join The Kids Garden Community. The online forum provides a wealth of resources including discussion boards, funding opportunities, a resource library, and much more. Membership in the community is FREE!

The National Farm To School Network provides an searchable Resources page and allows you to search by resource type, topic, or the setting that best suits your needs.

Slow Food USA has a page devoted to School Gardens. 

Life Lab 

Whole Kids Foundation provides a ton of information, and even offers grants at certain times of the year

Growing School Gardens and the School Garden Support Organization - this organization provides a variety of resources, and even runs a bi-annual conference that will be held this spring in San Diego, CA.

I took the online School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training class offered by Oregon State University and thought it was excellent. Even though I don't live in Oregon the course included lots of great information. I liked the short videos that modeled classroom management skills in a garden setting. The unit that covered food safety was very useful to me. The Oregon State Extension also has a great list of resources that covers a variety of topics, including a basic how-to guide for educators on how to start a learning garden.

The Texas Agrilife offers the Junior Master Gardener curriculum for students from prek to junior high.


WOW! Great information. We have been brainstorming on this topic, and this info is very useful. THANK YOU!!!

Lara Guerra Lara Guerra 550 Points

Since I apparently hit a character/word limit for responses this last bit was cut off...

Our school garden started with 4' x 8' cedar beds but we are slowly switching over to Vego beds when wooden beds rot and become unrepairable. Vego makes a very nice bed but they're the only metal raised bed on the market these days. If you're thinking of going this route, look around and see what's out there. I really like what we have and have been very happy with them; however, there are 2 drawbacks to this type of bed - first, it takes a lot of soil to fill them. You have to top of the bed the second year because the soil will settle and the sids of the bed can bend if kids lean on them. Second, when filling the beds, you have shovel the soil into the bed as opposed to flipping the wheelbarrow over the side as you would do with a wooden bed. So it's a bit of a pain to get started, but once they're full they're great!!

I hope some of this has been useful to you all. Happy Gardening!

Lara Guerra
The Hockaday School
Dallas, Texas

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