The Garden Educators are knowledgeable and well trained, and I always end up learning new information right along with the kids. Jane Wind, 1st grade teacher
Planting with a class of 25 to 29 students can be daunting. We simplify the process by creating a visual planting map so garden educators know how to plan for the placement of seeds, seedlings, and students during the planting process.
The placement of seeds and seedlings is designed to optimize production of foods available for harvest in the spring for students, in the summer for garden volunteers, and in the late summer when students return for the next school year. We plan for the maximum number of students that a class might have, 29.
Our goal is to provide a variety of foods for students to enjoy. In May, the focus is on harvesting some of the foods that were planted in March to prepare a fresh salad in the gardens. In May, we plant fruiting crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and peppers for frequent, easy to prepare raw samplings in the gardens and roots crops for a harvest lunch of roasted vegetables in September.
Once the types of seeds and seedlings for planting have been determined, the number of locations for each is decided based the the maximum student count of 29 and the amount of each variety that we want to have available for harvesting. The plan takes into account plant interactions as much as possible in our small space. Some plants need a lot of space and others do not. Some plants make better companions to their neighbors than others. Our goal is to maximize growth.
- Each classroom has two 3′ x 10′ garden beds (represented below). We use two beds to communicate easier with the class when they are gathered more like a group than down a long line. The size insures that every student has a space to plant. For a class with 29 students, our bed sizes can accommodate all students around the perimeter of the two beds.
- Each small square on the map is 6″ Each large square is 18″.
- The wide strip in the middle of each bed is a four-foot picket fence. The fence provides a place for us to label the name of the teacher assigned to the bed and support for growth of vining foods, like peas in spring and beans in summer.
- Each box is planted by one student unless otherwise noted with (2) by the name of the seed. Generally this only happens at the end of a bed where there is room for two students to plant the same spot without being crowded. We do this to be sure we have planned for the maximum of 29 students. Most classes are smaller, so only one student will end up planting in that kind of space.
- White boxes outlined in green are planted in mid-March.
- Blue boxes are planted in late May or early June.
- Succession planting from March to May to summer takes into account the timing of harvesting needs. Many of the seeds planted in March are ready for students to harvest in May and by summer volunteers in late spring and early summer. Plantings in May and in the summer are ready for student harveting in late summer.
- You won’t see tomatoes, squash, or potatoes in the class garden beds. We love these foods for students and have them, but find they take up too much space when the beds are in full production. These foods are planted in larger “common” beds adjacent to the students’ beds. Often, these plants are tucked into flowerbeds.