Thank you to South Grove Intermediate for hosting our Fall Harvest and Winter Prep workshop in their bountiful Learning Garden. And thank you to all the dedicated educators who go above and beyond to make the Learning Garden an exciting and productive space throughout the year. Below is a summery the skills and resources we covered at the workshop to help you with harvest, soil maintenance, and garden engagement over the winter.
Fall Harvest tips:
- Harvesting Sweet Potatoes – Please refer to these short videos for harvesting sweet potatoes (especially useful for preparing before taking students out) or harvesting sweet potatoes with students.
- Harvesting (pop)corn – The corn we grow in the Learning Garden is grown for popcorn. You know they are ready to harvest when the husks are fully dried out around the ear and the ear starts to pull away or fall from the stalk.
- Harvesting fall greens – You can cut the large outer leaves from the greens and let the plant continue growing. Remind your students to be gentle with the leaves This video shows how to do chard, kale, and mustard and this one covers spinach.
- Make sure to weigh and track your harvest on our online harvest tracking form.
Fall recipe ideas:
- Popcorn *warning* this could catch on fire so watch it closely. To minimize the fire risk, remove all tassels and husk pieces and cut off the end if the kernels are undeveloped. You can also choose to have students remove all of the kernels from the cob cook it like any stove top popcorn.
- Refer to the Big Green Tasting Activities document for recipe ideas, such as Lemon-Parmesan Popcorn, Sweet Potato “Ravioli” (adapted from Beet Ravioli), and infused water. Infused water is a fantastic way to use basil and other herbs from the Learning Garden.
- Collard spring rolls are another fun way to consume fall veggies and herbs.
- Your Garden Educator will be reaching out about delivering your garlic. You can refer to this video for a reminder on how to plant your garlic. Minute 1-2 cover planting garlic. The remainder of the video is not relevant to your current garlic planting. Please note this video is from our LA team. In Indiana, we recommend planting each garlic clove 3 inches deep, with the pointy tip upward.
Winter garden prep:
- We recommend mulching your garden to protect the soil over the winter. You can use almost any plant debris like leaves, stems, and straw to cover the beds and insulate the soil. You can also just leave your fall and summer plants over the winter, though they may be difficult to pull out if the soil is frozen when you’re preparing for the spring planting.
Winter Garden Activities:
Winter can be a quiet time in the garden, there are still ways to keep the enthusiasm for growing alive in the classroom. Below are monthly activities that can help you and your class stay connected to the Learning Garden throughout the winter.
- November: Herb Bouquets (1) – Make an herb bouquet to dry and use over the holidays while practicing close observation and description skills.
- December: Introducing_the_Seed – Explore the parts of a seed to learn how they survive in harsh conditions like drought and winter.
- January: Garden-Planning – Use seed catalogues and blank garden maps to practice planning from the birds eye view.
- February: Soil Investigation Grades 3-5 – Stir up the soil in your garden while examining the various soil components that feed and support your plants.
- March: Seed Needs + Seed-Starting-Journal – Get ready for spring by learning about the unique soil needs of baby seeds and starting some plants for the garden.