Category Archives: Instructional Activities

Woolly School Gardens – Grow it Vertically

Woolly Pockets is sponsoring a program to bring gardens to schools. More information at woollyschoolgarden.org

Sow Easy – Indoor School Garden Activity

By Lisa Gustavson,  Getinthegarden.com

Are you looking for an easy garden project to occupy your time while early sown seeds germinate and snows melt away? Seed tapes are the answer. They’re super-simple to make, use everyday items in your home and make sowing small seeds like lettuces and flowers a snap! Seed tapes are simply paper strips with seeds adhered to them. They make planting and spacing small seeds outdoors faster and easier.

What you’ll need: A paper towel or napkin, flour (organic), a small paintbrush and seeds. You may want to recycle a cardboard tube to roll the seed tapes around as well.

First: Mix the flour with enough water to make a medium-thick paste. Don’t worry about exact amounts, just so long as the paste is thick enough for the seeds to stick to.

Next: Use the paintbrush to dab the flour paste at equally spaced increments along the paper towel. Use the packet as a guide for spacing and a ruler if you’d like it to be precise. You can fit several rows along each sheet of paper towel.

Last: Press two or three seeds gently onto each dab of paste making sure they adhere. Let the strip dry completely and cut between each row of seeds. Roll up each strip and store in a plastic bag in a cool dry place until planting time.

This is a great project for children! Clean-up is a snap and if there is flour paste left over it can be thinned with more water and used to decoupage seed packets and flower pictures from catalogs to clay or plastic pots. (Be sure to coat with an eco-friendly sealant so they’ll be waterproof.) It’s sow easy!

Grow LA Victory Garden Classes at Saturn Elementary School

The University of California Cooperative Extension is organizing workshops in various communities throughout Los Angeles County to teach residents how to grow their own vegetables. I am excited to be teaching one at Saturn Elementary School. You’re all invited.

4 Sunday classes (12 noon – 3 PM) beginning 4/11/10

Where:
Saturn Elementary School
5360 Saturn St.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

List of topics includes:
Week 1 (Sunday April 11): planning, tools, seed starting, building raised beds, choosing containers, plant selection (what to grow and when to grow it)

Week 2 (Sunday, April 18): transplanting, soil preparation, irrigation, mulching

Week 3 (Sunday April 25): pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), beneficial insects, organic pesticides and fertilizers.

Week 4 (Sunday May 2): composting, harvesting, seed saving, review, recipes, graduation and certificates

The cost of these workshops is $10 for each class or $35.00 for all four.

Payment can be made online here, or by bringing cash or check to the first meeting. Please make checks payable to: The Rings of Saturn.

All monies will benefit the Saturn Elementary School Student Garden.

Please RSVP, space is limited.

Contact Information:
George Pessin
Email – gp305@yahoo.com
Tel – 310-652-4642

* Kids under 12 are free with a paid adult.

Seed-Saving and Seed Study for Educators

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) School Garden Program announces the release of “A Handful of Seeds” – a new publication on seed saving and seed study for educators.

This guide is available now as a free PDF download on their website. CLICK HERE to download the 91 page (1.6MB) full color illustrated guide.  Inside you will find lessons linked to California Educational Standards, practical information on seed saving in the school garden and seed history and lore.

School hooks worms into sustainable class services

Starside Elementary School in De Soto, Kansas is tending to a collection of worms that are helping to break down cafeteria waste. The school has twelve bins or factories of the Pennsylvania red wigglers to help create the compost.

See article here and make sure to check out the accompanying video.

10 Ways to Integrate School Gardens into Arts, Science, and Math

1) Make a scarecrow. See Atlanta Botanical Gardens 2009 Scarecrow Winners for inspiration.

2) Paint a sign. Nothing says Our Garden like a freshly painted sign. See 25 photos of garden signs from Life Lab.

3) Build a trellis. Trellises are needed throughout the year to support such vegetables as peas, pole beans, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, and gourds. See trellis as art from Maine artist, Paul Jurutka.

4) Make a germinator to showcase germination process (see video.)

5) Read Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. Some have turned the book into a school play. Others were inspired to make a movie.

6) Keep a journal. For scientific purposes we want to track the following: what we’re growing, when did we sow seeds, how long did the seeds take to germinate, how often do we water, how long does a plant take to mature (from seed to harvest), how big does a plant get (height and width), and how much does it yield.

Many other scientific experiments may be initiated with results tracked in a journal.  See Conducting an Experiment from cornell.edu.

7) Plant seeds of lettuce or cilantro and observe the different plant stages. Reserve one plant to be saved for seed. These plants (all annuals) will flower and seed within the school year. Students can observe the entire lifecycle of a plant (seed-to-seed), as well as learn to collect seeds for the following seasons.

8) Collect bugs and insects into a terrarium and observe their habitat and behavior.

9) For math students, examples of gardening equations:
a) If a row is 8 ft long and we space our carrots 3 inches apart how many carrots can we grow in one row?
b) Our pole beans grow 8 inches a week. How many feet will they be after 12 weeks?
c) My raised bed is 4ft x 8 ft x 1ft. How many bags of dirt (2 cubic feet each) does it take to fill the raised bed?

10) For more inspiration see School Garden Potpourri of Ideas

Choosing Tomato Seeds

Always a difficult decision. Tomatoes (and corn) is everyone’s favorite homegrown vegetable. We’ll be starting them indoors in late February and early March. If you haven’t gotten your seeds yet, get them NOW.

This year I’ve decided on Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Pineapple Tomato, Cherokee Purple and Sungold Tomato.

Sungolds are bright orange, cherry tomatoes, hybrids, very sweet, and very high yields. The others are heirlooms, open-pollinated, 1-2 pounders: green, yellow blush, and deep red.

The intent is both visual and culinary. The different colors will delight any child and the depth of flavors from the four varieties in a freshly made salsa, bruschetta, or checca will excite the palate of any adult.

Favorite Seed Companies:
Baker Creek
Botanical Interests
Gourmet Seed
PineTree Seeds