Today marks the first day of our recommended Fall Planting window. This window extends into October 25th, though that last week is cutting it close. We are encouraging schools to plant earlier this year to ensure harvesting all crops before winter break.
We have included some national Big Green resources below to help your garden team plan your fall garden. However, if you’re interested in getting yourself or your garden ready for planting, the Preparing Your Learning Garden post has a lot of information about:
- garden preparation (tilling, disinfecting, and all that fun stuff)
- garden resources (seed information layouts, etc.)
- garden classes throughout LA County–most of them free!
Garden Team Planning
Having a communicative Garden Team is the best resource a Garden Team Lead can have. With 60+ schools managing gardens in the LA region, there is no shortage in variety on how those gardens are managed. Regardless, there are some commonalities in how they run:
Meet with your garden team with some regularity. Our most successful garden teams meet at least once a month with additional meetings as needed. Important topics to discuss include: garden preparation, planting, on-going maintenance (weeds, pests, checking growth), and harvesting. Some school principals even budget a few minutes of the PD Tuesdays/Wednesdays for garden teams to meet. Reach out to your principal to see if this is a possibility for your school. If you don’t know where to start or you’d like your Garden Educator to help or lead a meeting, just let us know!
Plan your garden. If your school is planting on its own, we highly recommend using your school’s garden layout to plan what and where classes are planting. This eliminates the possibility of multiple teachers planting in the same area. And if your popsicle sticks or signs go missing you will still know what was planted. Since each Learning Garden was individually designed, we have layouts for each school. We email them out at least once a year (especially in the beginning of the school year). If you would like another copy, please send your Garden Educator an email!
>> Additional resources for planning your garden (recommended layouts, seed spacing, etc.) are found in the Preparing Your Learning Garden post
Create a plan for watering. Water is the biggest limiting factor for all of our schools. A lot of Learning Gardens in LA do not get enough water. Insufficient watering leads to slow to no germination, stunted and/or slower growing plants, lower yields, and can kill tender sprouts. Watering your garden deeply is the most important thing you can do for your garden. If you’d like your Garden Educator visit your school to provide a refresher on watering techniques, please reach out to her! We are more than happy to do it.
Schools have different ways of watering their gardens: individual teachers/classrooms water their own plots, teachers/classrooms take turns watering the entire garden, parents and classrooms take turns watering the entire garden, after-school or support staff water the garden, etc. Whatever your school’s method is, have it in place before you plant. This should be discussed during a meeting with all garden team members. Ensure all members know:
- where to get and how to use the water key, hose, and nozzle OR other watering elements (watering cans, cups & buckets, etc.)
- how to water properly
- how to check the soil moisture. Remember, the top of the soil may look wet but the depth where the roots are may be bone dry.
Garden Team Planning Resources
- A Comprehensive Guide to Planning a Planting Day
- Tips for Creating a Watering Schedule. NOTE: we strongly recommend every teacher/classroom involved in planting water and help maintain the garden
- Blank Watering Schedule or you can use a calendar
- Your School’s Ed/Garden Layout: reach out to your Garden Educator
- Garden Team Annual Communication Schedule: topics you may want to discuss with your team
- School Donation Request Template. Use your school’s letterhead.
Resources for Getting Buy-In
- Impact of Big Green Learning Gardens
- Teaching in Your Learning Garden: Frequently Asked Questions
- Additional Classroom Activities
- If you’d like some assistance getting teacher, principal, or support staff buy-in, reach out to your Garden Educator! We have a lot of experience leading these discussions.
Reach out to your Garden Educator! We can work with your Parent Coordinator to train interested parents in gardening.
As always, please reach out to your Garden Educator with any questions or concerns. If you would like to schedule a Planting Day, please reach out as early as you can. Our dates get full rather quickly, especially towards the end of the recommended planting window.