Posted by: jwhiff | March 30, 2018

Grazing Garden

I keep tinkering with my outdoor classroom ideas. I know what resources I get to start with and have had a bit of extra time to think. I’ve also had several years experience gardening with kids to draw on. I really want this to work!

My most successful gardening years came when I taught K. During those years, I was not really worried about growing something until it reached maturity. I wanted my K’s to play in the garden–planting, digging, watering, picking, munching and planting again. As a result, the garden was a pretty lively place. I didn’t have a huge garden space either (only 6 milk crates!), so I knew we weren’t aiming for any big feast. Still, we made good use of what we had and the garden was an important learning focus from the time following Spring Break until the end of the school year.

I was less successful at the intermediate level. For some reason, I was caught up in the idea that the plants needed to reach maturity. There was a flurry of activity at the start with all the planting and then….waiting. A bit of watering, but that’s it. Our climate doesn’t allow for many spectacular fruiting veggies to be ripe by the end of June, so the end result wasn’t super interesting (radish and spinach salad, anyone?)

This time, I would like the garden to be a place of continuous planting and munching, just like back in the good old kindergarten days. Here’s a drawing that I did recently to give you an idea about how I’m going to set it up:

While we wait for the planters to arrive (bought 3 from Costco), I’m going to work with the kids to plant seeds in little compostable containers made out of newspaper. These will be planted in one of the three planters. We will also buy some plants this year to give us a head start (cheating, I know) and these will planted in another planter. Next year, we will start these ourselves before the break. The final planter will have seeds planted directly into the soil. This should give us some interesting variation between the planters. We will start another round of seed planting every time we free up space.

This should allow for continuous garden activity. By the time June rolls around, we’ll stop planting and let the soil in the planters dry out. Then we’ll store the soil and the planters in the undercover area over the summer.

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