Join us in creating a more sustainable Phoenix!
I send this reminder out each year to my readers.
Get the children involved in gardening by helping them grow a Tee Pee or Sunflower House.
Described in Linda Lovejoy's fabulous book "Sunflower Houses," either of these ‘hideaways' will delight your budding gardener.
a) Create Tee Pees using 8-foot garden bamboo poles bundled and tied tightly 1 foot from the top. Prepare the ground for the garden. Spread the legs of the Tee Pee — and anchor in the ground. Plant pea, cucumber, or other edible vines at the base of each pole, and allow them to grow and cover the teepee.
b) Sunflower Houses are created using the growing sunflowers for the poles of the house. Prepare the planting area and decide how wide and long you want the house to be — ex. 4 x 6 — and draw the dimensions in the soil, leaving an opening for the ‘door.' Mammoth sunflowers (those that grow over 6 feet) are best for this. Plant the sunflower seeds 2 or 3 to a hole, about 1 foot apart all along the ‘walls' of the house. In between the sunflower seeds, sow edible vines like peas or cucumbers. Given the water requirements, creating a trench for the walls will allow flood watering for the growing plants. These houses can be as elaborate as you and your children wish. Plant flower or strawberry beds along the outside walls; herb and flower ground covers inside for a ‘carpet' are limited only to the imagination. The vines grow up the sunflowers and if they are enthusiastic enough, will even grow over the top of a narrow room creating a ceiling.
c) do teach the children about bees, leaving them alone and avoiding them when they are "working" the flowers.
I highly recommend Lovejoy's book for parents - it is a delight.
I'm looking forward to getting little Quin out in the garden and have been looking around to find an area that would be right for the sunflower house. He's going to love it!
For the last year, I have been one of the volunteer coordinators of my 2 daughters' elementary school garden. This is a public elementary school that had never done anything like this before and had no existing precedent for, or curriculum for, using gardening to teach the kids. So, we've just been making it up as we go! None of us are trained teachers, but we are all moms, and we love kids, gardening and teaching kids to love gardening! Both semesters we have filled our maximum enrollment for the garden club and have had a waiting list. We meet formally one day a week for an hour after school, and then we have a watering schedule throughout the week, and students and their families are encouraged to enjoy the garden before and after school, and depending on what is available for harvest, one of us is usually available after school to share produce and fresh cut herbs with school families.
All that is to say, that I love the ideas that Catherine has shared here, and I would love to have a more formal space to share some of the activities that we have done with the kids in garden club, as i think many of these things are applicable to parents or grandparents getting the little ones involved in their home gardening, as well as it being useful to other people coordinating gardening for kids at other schools, or in homeschool or community groups.
There are so many academic disiplines that can be taught through gardening. We have used our school garden to teach math, science, social studies, anthropology, nutrition, creative writing, journalism, photography and (obviously) agriculture. The possibilities are nearly endless. One of our most surprising, but delightful, discoveries is how much the elementary school aged boys enjoy working in the garden. I'm not sure why this surprised me, but I had been apprehensive that, especially for the boys, something as calm and slow paced as gardening may not hold their attention for long. A pleasant surprise that it not only seems to hold their attention, but that it adds that kinesthetic element that many of them crave in their school day.
Each of the 20 different classes, including our 3 special-ed class groups, have spent time doing some part of their school day out in the garden...even if it has just been allowing the kids to do their leisure reading out amongst the plants. This symester, we added a container for each class to grow plants of their choice. These containers serve as a border to the veggie garden, and many teachers have planted flowering herbs and edible flowers to help attract polinators to the veggie garden.
You can probably tell this is a subject I'm passionate about, and I'd love to have a place to exchange ideas with other likeminded people...Liz, shoud we make this a separate thread, a separate group or just start posting our ideas and brainstorming in this thread? Please advise!
Karis, that is wonderful! I truly believe every school should have a community garden. As we passionate gardeners know - gardening teaches patience, it is about nurturing and the rhythm of life - it one of those truly great activities which has no negatives (unless you count people comparing squash sizes :-)