Ask Farmer Tim | January 2017

Dear Farmer Tim,

Now that we have started spring semester, I can’t help but think about the fact that spring is right around the corner! I want to make sure our Garden Team is prepared to plant and grow a successful spring garden. What can we be doing with our students now to plan for our spring garden? Also, we planted seeds in the fall to overwinter, should we be doing anything with these beds before we plant this spring?


Plant Planner

Dear Plant Planner,

Great question! Now is the perfect time to start preparing for spring so that you and your students are ready to grow a successful spring Learning Garden. Generally speaking, your window to plant your spring garden begins either the first two weeks of April (in cooler climates like Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, and Memphis) or the last two weeks of February (in warmer climates like Los Angeles).

Big Green spring garden support: Your regional Garden Educator will provide your school with an Annual Garden Plan that outlines the best planting window. In addition, Big Green will provide your school with the seeds and seedlings that you will need to implement your Annual Garden Plan! In the weeks preceding your spring planting, Big Green will also host a regional workshop focused on how to plant and care for your spring garden. Reach out to your Garden Educator to get your Annual Garden Plan and the details on regional workshop!

Prepare for spring planting: Kick off your preparations with a Garden Team meeting to discuss who will be taking on responsibilities related to planting and watering and what classrooms will be involved. Set a planting date (or dates) in coordination with participating classrooms, your school calendar, and your Annual Garden Plan.

Prepare for spring watering: Inventory participating classrooms and volunteers and create a watering schedule, remember your watering schedule should start the day you plan your spring garden. Use our Watering your Garden overview and create Up-Cycled Watering Cans
with your students.

Overwintered seeds: As temperatures warm-up and your Learning Garden soil begins to thaw, check on the seeds you planted in the fall and assess their growth. Look closely as they may be very small! When planting this spring, you should plant in the garden beds that do not already have overwintered seeds. Begin watering overwintered crops when you plant the rest of your spring garden. Here is a list of several plants that you may have overwintered:

  • Spinach: will continue growing when spring arrives. Watch our videos on assessing and harvesting spinach to help you decide when to harvest.
  • Cilantro: will continue to grow well into the spring. Watch our video on harvesting cilantro to help you decide when to harvest.
  • Garlic: ideally garlic scapes will be ready to harvest this spring while garlic bulbs will not be ready to harvest until late spring or summer. Watch our video on harvesting garlic scapes to help you assess when to harvest.

The key to growing a successful Learning Garden is preparing your Garden Team and students ahead of time. Follow these tips and reach out to your Big Green Garden Educator to help them best support you in your garden this spring

Peas & Gloves,
Farmer Tim