Category Archives: Instructional Activities

10 School Garden Activities for September

Week 1 – Welcome back everyone. Hope you all enjoyed your summer.

For those without a school garden who would like to know how to get started please read: How to Start and Maintain a School Garden.

For those returning to an existing garden there is much to do. Preparing the beds for seed sowing is probably the hardest job physically we will have all year. Organizing a garden day with other parents, teachers, students or volunteers is something you might want to consider.

The following 10 School Garden Activities for September should be done (more or less) in order:
1) First and foremost discuss garden rules and tool safety. For those unfamiliar with garden rules these are the basics: a) No running in the garden; b) No walking in the beds; c) No running with tools; d) Do not carry or swing tools on your back; e) Do not bring hands tools over your shoulder; f) Walk with the tool by your side, blade down; g) Return all tools to their proper place immediately after use; h) Do not leave tools in the garden; i) Anyone not following these rules does not get to work in the garden.

2) Search for dried flower heads and seed pods in which to save seed (i.e. cosmos, sunflowers, marigolds, lettuce, cilantro, beans, etc).

3) Clear beds of everything other than perennials (i.e. herbs and strawberries).

4) Collect all organic refuse and compost it. For more information on composting see: Compost page at Wikipedia, the Compost Guide from compostguide.com, and the Guide to Home Composting from the Los Angeles Department of Public Works.

5) Add amendments (i.e. organic compost, aged manure) to existing soil, mix well and turn soil (top to bottom, bottom to top).

6) Review Vegetable Family Chart. At this time of year we will be planting cool-weather crops. As you will see there’s actually more to choose from now than there is in the spring.

7) Read seed packets for specific information regarding height and row spacing. (Taller plants go in the rear so as not to cast shadows on smaller plants.)

8) Plan and design garden space.

9) Lay out rows. (Ideally, rows should be perpendicular to the arc of the sun.)

10) Sow seeds and/or transplant seedlings.

Video – Saving Seeds

End of summer also means end of the cycle. Plants have flowered, fruited and are putting out seeds to ensure their survival. Students returning at the start of the new term should be on the lookout for seed-bearing fruits and dried flower heads.

Tips to Get a School Garden Grant

Grants, fundraisers and donations all come in handy to help our school gardens grow. While the success of donation drives and fundraisers depend to a large extent on people you know and interact with, like parents of students, local merchants and business houses, grants are more formal in nature. They are awarded by either public entities like local, state and federal governments or by private organizations and foundations.

The process of applying for grants is a little more complicated than seeking donations or holding fundraisers, but when you know what has to be done and do it diligently and thoroughly, you’ll have a much better chance of securing the funding that you need. If you’re thinking of applying for a school garden grant here are a few pointers to help you in the process:

• Apply only for those grants that fit your garden aims and needs.
• Read the rules thoroughly before you start filling in the application forms.
• Learn more about the agency that is funding the grant and find out about the previous grants they’ve awarded (or rejected).
• Fill in the application form as professionally as you can, following instructions to the letter. A school garden may be a small project, but you must approach the issue of seeking a grant with a certain amount of professionalism.
• State the facts without going overboard on details unless asked for.
• Make sure your application is free of errors, both factual and grammatical.
• If supporting documents like letters of recommendation are required, make sure you attach them to the application form.
• Send in your proposal well before the due date. Some grants have a send-by date as a deadline rather than a receive-by date. Read the application form properly to avoid being disqualified over such trivialities.
• If the grant is not forthcoming, don’t be disheartened; instead, try again at other sources.

School Garden Grant Opportunities
1) California School Garden Network (comprehensive list)

2) Calendar of School Garden Grants

3) Grant Opportunities from Schoolgrants.org

4) California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC Network)

By-line:
This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of California teaching certificate. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

Today’s gardeners borrow from yesterday

This is brilliant!

"bird" scarecrow

Birds a problem in the garden? Make a bird “scarecrow” with feathers and a potato; hang it in the garden. RENEE BONNAFON / rbonnafon@sacbee.com

Click here for complete article

More school garden reading

Summertime also means extra reading time for educators.
HowToDoThings.com has an entire section just for teachers. They include:

1) How to do Gardening Science Fair Projects

2) How To Plan a Garden for Kids

3) How To Grow Plants in the Classroom

4) How To Incorporate Gardening into Kindergarten and First Grade Curriculum

5) How To Garden Safely with Children at Home or in School

6) How To Get Grant Money for a School Gardening Project

7) How To Choose Plants Kids Will Love to Grow in Their Classroom Project

8) How To Get Started with a School Garden Project

10 Gardening Books Guaranteed to Interest your Kids

10 Gardening Books Guaranteed to Interest your Kids

It’s proven to be therapeutic and a good form of mild exercise, it showcases the results of your hard work in the form of beautiful flowers and nutritious vegetables, and it beautifies your house in the most natural way – gardening is not just a hobby but an art that requires concentration and patience. It’s fun for kids and a great way to spend time outdoors this summer. So if you’re planning on taking your first gardening steps soon, here are a few books that will guide you along the way to a colorful and beautiful garden:

• Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert: This book introduces children to the rudiments of growing colorful flowers of various varieties.
• The Gardening Book by Jane Bull: A book that offers gardening projects for children who are able to garden without adult supervision.
• From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons: This book teaches kids about the various stages of development a plant goes through and also includes directions and instructions to grow beans.
• A Handful of Dirt by Raymond Bial: A book that educates kids on the role that plain old dirt plays in the development of plants.
• Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy: This book combines instructions for theme gardens and the best plants for children to grow and look after.
• Kids Gardening: A Kid’s Guide to Messing Around in the Dirt/With Seeds, Shovel by Kevin Raftery and Kim Gilbert Raftery: The title of this book is self-explanatory – it shows how kids can have fun with gardening activities.
• The Kids Can Press Jumbo Book of Gardening by Jane Kurisu: This book teaches children to grow organic gardens in small spaces like backyards and balconies.
• New Junior Garden Book by Felder Rushing: This book is for kids who are budding gardeners and includes complete project activities both outdoor and indoor purposes.
• Gardening with Children by Beth Richardson: A book that teaches parents to get their children interested and involved in gardening.
• A Guide to Happy Family Gardening by Tammerie Spires: This book gets the whole family involved in gardening projects that are easy to implement.

By-line:
This guest post is written by Heather Johnson, who frequently writes on the subject of online college degrees. She welcomes your comments and freelance writing inquiries at: heatherjohnson2323@gmail.com

Week 36 – Spring Harvest and Planting Peanuts

We had out first spring harvest this week: round 8-ball squash the size of tennis balls, dark green zucchinis with flowers still intact and tender green beans that also grew yellow and purple (anything colorful is always a big hit).

With only five weeks left in the school year it is too late to start anything new (though you probably could squeeze in a crop of radishes or lettuce). However for school gardens with year round access we’re just getting to the sweet spot. We’re planting heat lovers like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and peanuts. Peanuts? I never grew them before, I couldn’t resist.

Last week I’m at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market and I happened upon Hayward Organic Gardening’s stall of vegetable seedlings. They were selling peanuts in 4” containers for $3.00 (Note: 3 to a container, if you’re careful with transplanting, that’s only a buck a piece, and you do want to separate them). Peanuts need a lot of room to grow (I’ve seen recommendations for spacing at 18” apart in rows 3ft apart) and they need a lot of time to grow (Days to Maturity is 130-140).

If someone didn’t tell me these were peanuts I’d swear they were peas. Botanically speaking they are more pea than nut. Nuts grow on trees, peanuts grow in pods which then get submerged into the soil where they remain until harvest. A member of the Legume family, they are a close relative of black-eyed peas. Can’t wait to watch them develop.

For more about the peanut see:
1) Growing Peanuts in the Home Garden – Iowa State University
2) The Incredible Peanut – Southern Illinois University

3) Can’t talk about peanuts without mentioning George Washington Carver.
Read about his life and legacy (also from Iowa State University)