PLANNING GUIDE #5 Choose the Right Plants

Garden forevery School PLANNING GUIDE #5 Choose the Right Plants SECTION 1: Discuss and Vote on Potential Plant Types Instructions The fifth step to c...
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Garden forevery School PLANNING GUIDE #5 Choose the Right Plants SECTION 1: Discuss and Vote on Potential Plant Types Instructions The fifth step to create a successful school garden is to choose plants that allow you to best achieve your garden goals. By identifying goals, you have provided direction on plant choices. If “Taking the Classroom Outdoors” was your goal, then the plants need to work with existing curriculum and lesson plans. If “Service-Learning to Fight Hunger” was your goal, then the plants need to produce food that is acceptable to the local food pantry or families in the neighborhood. You get the idea. This planning guide will help your team research different plant types and the benefits they provide. After you have read and discussed the most common plant types other schools have identified, allow each individual to cast a vote for their top two (2) plant types. This will give you your priorities when deciding the right mix of plants to meet your goals.

6 Common Plant Types We interviewed dozens of school garden coordinators, students, teachers, administrators, parents, community volunteers, and organizations that support school gardens. They agreed that there are six (6) plant types that are most commonly used in successful school gardens. 1. Fruits (trees, bushes, berries) • Take time to establish, mature slowly, may harvest in summer, tasting, used in cooking, kids can recognize common fruits ____

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2. Vegetables • Mature slowly, may harvest in summer, tasting, used in cooking, kids can recognize common vegetables ____

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3. Native Plants • Grow naturally in existing climate, attract native pollinators, great for teaching local ecological history ____

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Garden forevery School SECTION 1: Discuss and Vote on Potential Plant Types (continued) 4. Flowers • Bloom quickly, beautiful, fun to smell, kids can recognize common flowers, can bring pollinators ____

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5. Herbs • Mature quickly, tasting, fun to smell, used in cooking, kids can recognize common herbs ____

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6. Agricultural Crops • Agricultural literacy programs, kids can recognize common crops, connection with local farmers ____

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SECTION 2: Prioritize Your Plant Types Instructions List the common plant types by how many votes each received from your team. This will help narrow your focus in the following sections, by understanding where your focus should be first. You are not limited to only one plant type. You clearly want a nice mix. But you don’t want to forget which plant types are absolutely necessary to achieve your goals.

PRIORITY OF PLANT TYPES

1 2 3 4 5 6

TOTAL VOTES

Garden forevery School SECTION 3: Discuss Plant Characteristics Instructions Discuss with your team the merits of the following three (3) additional plant characteristics to consider. Take notes on how each may help you achieve your garden goals. You may make a note to seek out additional input from gardening experts or representation from neighborhood families. Lifespan & Ease of Growth • Ephemeral — quickly fading plants, live for less than one year • Annuals — live for one year, easier to establish, require replanting every year • Biennials — live for two years, easier to establish, require replanting every two years • Perennials — live for more than two years, often as long as cared for, takes time to establish, requires less replanting every year Describe how planning for lifespan of plants your team chooses will meet your garden goals:

Harvest Schedules • Spring — underground over winter, ephemerals that plant and bloom in spring • Summer — planted in spring and harvested in summer, ephemerals that plant and bloom in spring • Fall — planted in summer and harvested in fall, ephemerals that plant and bloom in fall Describe how planning for harvest schedules with your team will meet your garden goals:

Garden forevery School SECTION 3: Discuss Plant Characteristics (continued) Planting Height • Raised beds — to get short plants at eye level, to allow wheelchair students easier access to plants • In the ground — to get tall plants at eye level, important to amend for soil quality • Poles — to provide structure for vines and climbing plants Describe how planning for planting height with your team will meet your garden goals:

Companion Planting • Soil health — plants that improve soil quality (e.g. legumes fix nitrogen) • Pest control — chemical or smell of plants deter pests (e.g. nasturtium) • Pollination — plants attract pollinators for nearby plants (e.g. native flowers) • Habitat — plants attract creatures that enhance garden experience (e.g. milkweed for monarchs) • Space — sturdy plants provide structure for others (e.g. vines) to grow up

Describe how planning for companion planting with your team will meet your garden goals:

Garden forevery School SECTION 3: Discuss Plant Characteristics (continued) Community Culture • Cultural taste — plants that community members are familiar with and enjoy eating • Choice — providing opportunities for students and families to have input on plant choices Describe how planning for community culture with your team will meet your garden goals:

SECTION 4: Research and Identify Specific Plants Instructions Break into groups of two (2) and brainstorm some specific plants that fit your plant type priorities and plant characteristics. Research things like harvest schedule, plant height, soil conditions, etc. for each plant. Share with the team. This information will help in making site decisions in the following training module (#6 — Design Your Garden). PLANT NAMES

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

PLANTING

HARVESTING

LIFESPAN

COLOR

HEIGHT OTHER BENEFITS

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