Category Archives: Instructional Activities

School Garden Manuals from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations

Two great (free) publications are currently available from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations aka FAO.org. Publications can be viewed in html or downloaded as a pdf.

Setting Up and Running a School Garden

1. Setting Up and Running a School Garden
Adequate nutrition and education are key to the development of children and their future livelihoods. The reality facing millions of children, however, is that these essentials are far from being met. A country’s future hinges on its youth. Yet children who go to school hungry cannot learn well. They have decreased physical activity, diminished cognitive abilities and reduced resistance to infections. Their school performance is often poor and they may drop out of school early. In the long term, chronic malnutrition decreases individual potential and has adverse affects on productivity, incomes and national development.

Year of publication: 2005
Document Type: Book
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9251054088
Office: Agriculture and Consumer Protection
Division: Nutrition Division
Also Available in: French Spanish

Setting Up and Running a School Garden - Teacher Toolkit

2. Setting Up and Running a School Garden – Teaching ToolKit

School gardens can help to provide healthy school meals and generate income for school funds, but they are primarily a platform for learning – learning how to grow food for a healthy diet, improve the soil, protect the environment, market food for profit, enjoy garden food and, not least, advocate it to others. There is strong evidence that classroom lessons and practical learning in the garden reinforce each other, indeed that often one does not work without the other. New garden projects and programs are therefore making sure that the classroom curriculum finds room for garden-related learning about agriculture, nutrition and the environment. This Teaching Toolkit is FAO’s contribution. It contains lessons which supplement and support gardening activities. These “garden lessons” should have a regular place in the classroom timetable, on top of gardening time. The “garden curriculum” aims to give learners some control over the “food cycle” process, through planning, organizing, promoting, evaluating and – not least – celebrating achievements. The lessons therefore aim not only at knowledge and practical skills but also at awareness, attitudes and life skills. The garden mix of theory, practice, enjoyment and ownership is a winning combination for improving lives.

Year of publication: 2009
Document Type: Book
Pages: 194
Office: Agriculture and Consumer Protection
Division: Nutrition Division
Also Available in: French

Grow LA Victory Garden Classes at Greystone Mansion

Greystone Demonstration Garden

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 pleased to announce Greystone Mansion and Park in Beverly Hills will be one of the hosting sites for the upcoming Fall classes and yours truly will be the instructor.

We will be hosting 4 Sunday classes (12 noon – 3 PM) beginning 9/14/14. Those who take all 4 classes will be given a certificate of completion.

Spring Planting 2014

cucumber2

In celebration of spring let’s discuss what we’re growing this year.
Our list includes:

Chayote
Genovese Italian Basil
Edamame Soy Beans
Blue Lake Bush Bean
Black-Seeded Yard Long Pole Bean
Honey Select Corn
Rocky Top Mix Lettuce
Imperial Black Beauty Eggplant
Cayenne Pepper
Jalapeno Pepper
Nardello Sweet Pepper
Aunt Ruby’S German Green Tomato
Kelloggs Breakfast Tomato
Black Vernissage (Cherry) Tomato
Prudens Purple Tomato
Early Red Chief Tomato
Lemon Cucumber (shown above)
Mideast Prolific Cucumber
Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber (shown below)
Burgess Buttercup Winter Squash
Golden Scallopini Bush Squash
Golden Bush Zucchini
Cocozelle Bush Zucchini
Green Rocky Ford Melon
Haogen Melon
Crimson Sweet Watermelon
and Peanuts!

mexcian-sour-gherkin

Seed Companies we use:

Baker Creek
Botanical Interests
Peaceful Valley
Pinetree
Renee’s Garden
Seeds of Change

What are you growing this year?

Keeping a School Garden Journal

A School Garden journal is an invaluable tool, not only for the success of your garden but also for the myriad of experiments that can be done in tandem.

This is my entry for 10/5/13:

Bed 1 (B1) – Fava Beans germinated (broke through the soil), 1-2 days old. Germination took 10 days.

B2 – Lettuce germinated, about 3 days old. Germination took 7 days.

B3 – Beets and Swiss Chard both germinated. Germination took 7 days.

B4 – Aphids and eggs found beneath swiss chard leaves planted last year. Washed them off with a jet of water. See photo.

B5 – Something ate many of our Brassica seedlings (broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, bok choy). Not snails or slugs, no nub left over, no slimy trail. Will replant with floating row cover.

B6 – Peas, Carrots, Celeriac, Cilantro, Parsley sowed seeds 9/28, nothing yet.

Harvesting: last of the pole beans, swiss chard, kale, eggplant, Mexican sour gherkins, oregano, thyme, & chives.

Saved dried pods of pole green beans. Seeds were planted 5/15. Seed-to-seed was 19 weeks. Next year I want to get my sweet peas in earlier. If I want to plant them the third week in September (lets say, September 23rd), and I want to save seeds from the pole beans again, when should I plant the beans? This is one reason why we keep a journal. Can you think of some others?

Maybe this will help –
1. How Does My Garden Grow? Writing in Science Field Journals

2. School Garden Curricula

aphids and eggs

The yellow elliptical dots are the eggs. The black dots at top are the aphids

Planning and Planting Your Winter Garden

This is the layout for the Hamilton High School fall/winter 2013 school garden. What’s yours?

Bed 1 – Fava Beans
We will follow this with corn in the spring.

fava beans

Fava beans

Bed 2 – Lettuce
We will broadcast lettuce seeds creating a lettuce “patch” rather than conventional rows.

lettuce patch

Lettuce patch

Bed 3 – Beets, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Red Sorrel
Red Sorrel is a perennial. We will plant at the southern end of the bed.

red sorrel

Red sorrel

Bed 4 – Potatoes, Dandelion greens, Garlic, Shallots.
Garlic and shallots will take the longest. We will plant those at the northern end of the bed.

shallots

Shallots

Bed 5 – Broccoli, Kale, Cauliflower, Choy Sum (red stem), Cabbage, Radishes, Arugula
All the Brassicas are grouped together. Makes crop rotation a breeze.

radishes

Radishes

Bed 6 – Peas, Carrots, Celeriac, Cilantro, Parsley
Other than peas all are in the same family, again facilitating crop rotation. Celeriac is a close relative of celery.

pea seedling

Pea germination

Herb Bed – Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, Tarragon, Horse Radish, Ginger, Fennel, Cumin.
Other than fennel and cumin all perennials.

sage

Sage

Harvesting Swiss chard and Kale

Beans are done; corn is done. Squash plants all have powdery mildew and it appears to be spreading to the cucumbers and tomatoes. Welcome to the dog days of summer.

Usually during this time we not only harvest the remains of our summer crop but we also look forward to the fall and the new season of cool-weather crops. I am perusing seed catalogs as we speak.

Two plants that you must consider this fall are Swiss chard and Kale.

swiss chard and kale

Both are highly nutritious and extremely high yielding. You will get more yearly produce from one square foot of swiss chard than you will from any other vegetable. Period.

Lacinato Kale aka Tuscan Cabbage, Cavolo Nero, Dinosaur Kale or Black Tuscan Palm, is an heirloom that can grow to 5-6 ft tall under ideal conditions. Like Swiss chard it is a biennial, which means it goes to seed every two years.

Kale leaves can reach 18” long so giving the plant plenty of room is key.

We planted both of these in the early fall and both are still producing weekly harvests, even through the dog days of summer.

Zucchini Pollination – Pop Quiz

The following are squash flowers from a zucchini plant. One is male, the other is female. Can you identify which is which? I’ll give you a hint…when the male pollen fertilizes the female ovary zucchini seeds are created and the ovary swells to carry the seed.

Here’s a thought, wouldn’t it be great if “the birds and the bees” were taught where the birds and the bees actually congregate? What do you think?

male-zucchini-flower

Female Squash Flower