Video – How to Plant Seeds

Week 4 – Seed Packets, What to Plant

We have amended our beds, laid out rows and are now ready to sow seeds. All pertinent information about planting seeds can be found on the back of the seed packet. This includes: lighting requirements, row spacing, plant spacing, planting depth, plant height, days to germination, and days to harvest.

Note: On the seed packet row spacing refers to traditional row crops. In a raised bed we don’t need space to walk through our rows, so we plant more intensively (closer together).

Also, pay special attention to plant height, remember taller plant go at the north end and smaller plants at the southern end, this way your plant are not shading one another.

If still undecided about what you’re growing please consider the following:
1) Radishes – Perhaps not the tastiest of vegetables but certainly the quickest; seed to harvest is 30 days. Students will feel a sense of accomplishment that far outweighs any nutritional or educational benefit.
2) Lettuce – One of the easiest vegetables one can grow. Stagger your planting (sow seeds Oct, Nov, Dec…) and you’ll have lettuce all year. Also, more importantly, lettuce seed sown now will go to seed within the school year. If you wish to demonstrate the life cycle of a plant, lettuce is perfect (so is Cilantro).
3) Peas and Carrots – Good companion plants in the garden, and in the kitchen. Peas are like nature’s candy and carrots are a thrill to harvest.
4) Fava Beans – Dual benefits, first, they grow well in the fall and can be used in many bean recipes and second, fava bean plants add nitrogen to the soil benefiting the crops that follow it.
5) Swiss Chard – Winner of the most-bang-for-your-buck award. Sow seeds in the fall, harvest only the outer leaves, and you can enjoy Swiss chard the entire year.
6) Anything in the Brassica family – This includes, broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc., which are rich in phytonutrients. For more about phytonutrients, read the following from the USDA

For complete list of what you can plant now see my chart of Vegetable Families and the Digital Gardener’s Southern California Vegetable Planting Schedule.

School Garden News – Pennsylvania

Students Reap Rewards From Garden Program

“The children are really excited about the fact they grew something. They put it in the garden and it actually flourished,” Schwartz said. The students celebrated the fruits of their labors at a back-to-school night Sept. 12.

“I think it was a wonderful program. The students learned a lot about science, but they also learned a lot about helping others,” said Kimberly A. Fetter, All Saints principal.

Complete article can be found here

School Garden News – United Nations

U.N. Garden Program Rolls into Schools

Students at two city school soon will share tips with students around the world on how to grow Swiss chard in a box, through a United Nations program called Growing Connection.

To demonstrate how that works, Robert Patterson, a senior liaison from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Tuesday brought EarthBox container gardens from Washington, D.C., to Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School and Benjamin Jepson School. He walked into Barnard hauling behind him an EarthBox, a plastic container garden with wheels, that overflowed with ruby-veined Swiss chard.
Complete article can be found here

For more info on the The Growing Connection:
http://www.ahs.org/youth_gardening/growing_connection.htm

Week 3 – Amending Beds, Laying Out Rows

Why do we need to amend the beds, why do we need to turn the soil?” I hear this alot. Invariably its from a student in the midst of said activity who deservedly wants a break. The answer is, we amend the beds to add nutrients to the soil. Healthy soil means healthy plants. There is an old addage that states feed the soil, not the plant.

We turn the soil to mix the amendments with our existing soil and to aerate it as well. Aerating the soil is crucial for root development. Stick your pointer finger into an aerated bed and observe how easily it penetrates the surface. Now try to stick that same finger into the hard ground between the beds and notice how difficult it is to penetrate, if you can even do it at all. Now imagine that your finger is the root of a plant. In what environment do you think it will grow best. Correct, the aerated bed.

Note: Once a bed is turned it should never be walked on. Walking on the beds compacts the soil.

Once the beds are amended the next step is laying out rows. We lay out rows to plot where our seeds will be sown. Simply tie string to two row ends where you want your seeds to be planted. Row ends can be: splintered pieces from an old wooden box, plastic spoons, or, my favorite, tongue depressors from the nurses office.

Space your rows according to what plant you are growing. Read the back of the seed packet for this info.

School Garden News – South Africa

A Dream Garden Turns into Reality
“MAKHOARANE School, the winners of last year’s City Parks’ My Dream Park competition, has seen its dry and dusty playgrounds turned into green oasis, with newly planted trees, a water feature and new swings and slides.”
Complete article can be found here

Video – How to Amend a Raised Bed