Caring for a school garden when students are on summer break can be a real challenge. Here are some ways to build support:
Garden Work Day
Establish a regular day and time to weed and water the garden, say Wednesdays at 9 a.m. At the Woodland Elementary Harvest Garden in Gages Lake, Ill, volunteers work in the garden whenever it suits their schedule, but organizers have found a "standing" date with others draws in more people and makes weeding a lot more fun.
Reach out to summer camps, scout groups, local garden clubs, church youth groups, and county master gardeners. You never know who might be willing to lend a hand.
And, don't forget...
Gardens need about 1" of water each week. Early morning is the best time to water, as there's less chance the water will evaporate and cause fungus growth.
Maintain moisture and keep weeds at bay by covering bare soil with hay, dried grass clippings, wood chips (often free from local public works), even newspapers. This will help prevent issues like tomato blossom end rot, too.
Out Smart 'Em
Keep a spray bottle of soapy water on hand to tackle pests. Check out Jerry Baker's book, The Backyard Problem Solver, for tons of sustainable ways to manage pests and help plants thrive.
Go to the Bank
Food banks always need donations of fresh, healthy produce. Check with your local pantry for the best days to deliver your garden extras. Woodland students have donated more than 1,600 pounds of vegetables to their local food bank over the past three years. They've learned that working together can change their community.
Extend the Season
Plant additional rows of beans, lettuce, cilantro and other fast-growing plants so you have a steady supply through summer.
Hold a Tasting
Spring lettuces, spinach, radishes, strawberries and sugar snap peas are ready to harvest, so why not make the most of these kid-friendly crops and hold a tasting? Have children help you harvest, wash and prepare the produce. You can make a mixed salad or simply try them on their own. Or, make a tea sandwich with cocktail size bread, a cream cheese or tofu spread, greens, radishes, berries or whatever you have that’s ready to harvest. Working in the garden is fun, but eating what you grow is an awesome payoff!
copyright Anne Nagro