Setting up and running a school garden - Teaching ToolKit

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GROWING PLANTS

To prepare for gardening tasks:

  1. Sowing seeds
  2. Planting and transplanting
  3. Mulching: the soil blanket
  4. Watering (1)
  5. Watering (2)
  6. Weeding
  7. Keeping the garden healthy
  8. Plant doctors
  9. Harvesting

ABOUT THESE LESSONS

The lessons in Set F deal directly with gardening activities and help to set up routines such as regular watering, weeding and daily patrols of the state of the garden. These lessons will need to be integrated into your particular gardening project and distributed through the gardening season.

There is no need to buy fertilisers, but you will need good supplies of compost (enriched with animal manure if possible), mulch and sufficient water. Adequate pesticides can also be homemade (see Homemade sprays in Setting up and running a school garden).

1. SOWING SEEDS

This lesson is about sowing seeds directly in the garden and therefore deals with big seeds (e.g. beans, pumpkin). Do it when the beds are prepared and you are ready to plant. The whole lesson is best done in the garden.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners

- get local advice on planting seeds
- sow seeds correctly directly in the garden
- care for seeds and seedlings correctly.

RESOURCES NEEDED

- the seeds to be planted
- seed packets (if any)
- pegs and string
- ruler, tape measure or sticks for measuring
- a little compost

PREPARATION

To prepare for the lesson, older learners find out the height and width of the fully grown plants and measure them. They should try to get advice on sowing: how far apart, how deep.

LESSON

1. Lead-in Learners recall Lesson A2 What plants like (rich soil, space, no competition, warmth, moisture, light) and explain why the prepared garden beds are good places to plant. Show the seeds to be planted. Point out that they are big and strong so we can plant them directly outdoors.

2. Dangers But they are still babies! Learners suggest what dangers they face (e.g. falling on/under stones, washed away, waterlogged, eaten by birds/slugs, overgrown, scorched by sun).

3. Measuring and deciding (for older learners)

a) Ask How deep? How far apart?

b) Learners demonstrate how big the plants will grow. Planting must allow for this final size. Discuss and decide spacing for seeds.

c) Learners measure or estimate the seeds diameter and multiply by three. This gives a rough planting depth.

d) Learners read seed packet instructions (if any) and compare with local practice (see Guide A). Discuss which advice to follow (generally, respect expert local advice based on local conditions).

4. Planning the work Discuss the following questions on the garden site. Learners demonstrate their answers practically. Older learners can refer to Guide B.

- What do we do first? (Rake the soil, make it fine.)
- Do we want rows? circles? patterns? How will we mark them out? (pegs, string etc.)
- How do we measure between seeds and between rows? (e.g. with measurin7g sticks)
- How do we make the holes? (with a stick)
- What do we do next? (Put in a little compost.)
- And then? (Drop the seeds in.)
- And then? (Cover and press in the seeds, water GENTLY.)
- How will we protect the plants? Learners recall the risks and suggest solutions (e.g. thorns to keep off chickens, branches for shade and rain protection, gentle watering).

5. Planting Divide the class into groups, each with seeds to plant, pegs/string etc.

FOLLOW-UP

1. Drama: The Seven Seeds Act out the story of seven seeds which between them experienced all possible dangers and threats.

2. Seed race Teams have a race for first shoots, first true leaves, first plant to reach 5 cm. etc.

3. Germination rate Older learners count the seeds planted and calculate the germination rate.

4. Growth rates Older learners sow different varieties of seed, or apply different conditions (e.g. with mulch/compost/weeding/water or without) and track the different growth rates.

LESSONS IN OTHER SUBJECTS

Maths Averages, measurements, growth graphs

PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS AND LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Seed packets give general planting instructions. They should be adapted to local conditions.

 

Crops in

 

71 days

 

Height

 

This is the fastest maturing variety of broad bean and very high yielding: up to 34 pods per plant!

 

Sowing instructions

 

Sow the seed any time, 5 cm deep and 23 cm apart in double rows 23 cm.

 

Growing instructions

 

When they flower, take off the top shoots to induce earlier and bigger crops. Surprise your friends and neighbours!

Adapted from Thompson and Morgan (2004)

CAN YOU FIND THE ANSWERS?

When should we plant?

 

How deep?

 

How far apart?

SOWING SEEDS

Make a good bed with fine soil.

Space out the rows.

Sow three seeds deep.
Add a little compost.

Cover the seeds and press down.

Water gently and keep damp.

 

2. PLANTING AND TRANSPLANTING

Small seeds are generally started in a seedbed and then transplanted or thinned out. Introduce the process when you are ready to sow the seeds. Younger learners should do only Steps 1 and 2.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners

- understand the overall process of planting and transplanting
- (older learners) get information and advice from seed packets and local people
- (older learners) plan the process and carry it out.

RESOURCES NEEDED

- big seeds, small seeds
- blanket/sheet/fronds to make a sun canopy
- paper symbols for sun, rain, wind
- (for older learners) seed packets
- copies of
Guide A questions

PREPARATION

- Before the lesson, learners find out all they can about sowing and growing the planned crops. Older learners can use the questions in Guide A to guide their research.
- For older learners, copy the Guide A questions on the board or on a flipchart before the lesson.

LESSON

1. Lead-in Show some big seeds (e.g. melon, bean), then some very fine seeds. Ask which ones need more care and protection (the small ones). Explain that we have to treat them like babies!

2. Walkthrough Explain that we will go through the whole process, so that they will know what to do. Eight learners represent seeds; others represent sun, rain, wind (give them paper symbols). The rest are gardeners. The "seedbed" is around the teachers desk and the "open garden" is the learners desks. Walk and talk through the mime below. N.B. This demonstration can have a dramatic or a scientific flavour, depending on the tastes of class and teacher.

Mime

a) We sow the small seeds in a nursery bed (the "seeds" sit down in a row in the "seedbed" while "sun", "rain" and "wind" take up positions nearby). We keep them warm and shady (two gardeners hold a canopy over them) and protect them from sun, rain and wind (gardeners form a hedge). We water regularly (two gardeners "water the soil").

b) The seedlings come up. ("Seeds" stand up together.) But they are too close! What do we do?

- We thin them out! (Half the "seeds" go back to desks. "Gardeners" mulch and water those left.)

c) Now the seedlings have room to grow. ("Seeds" stretch and expand.) But they are still very tender. They need to get used to sun, rain and wind. What do we do?

- We harden them off! (Learners lift the canopy and expose "seeds" a little to sun, rain and wind, then repeat the process, lifting the canopy longer each time).

d) Now they are strong and ready for anything. ("Seeds" stand up tall.) What do we do?

- We transplant them! (Gardeners take "seeds" away and "plant" them back in their desks.)

3. What do our seeds need? (older learners) Groups present to the class what they have found out about the specific seeds to be grown, referring to the questions in Guide A, which should be on display. They should consult and refer to seed packets if they have them.

FOLLOW-UP

1. Garden work Move on to sowing, growing and transplanting in the garden (see Guide C).

2. Growing schedule Older learners prepare a growing schedule for the selected crops (Guide B).

3. Experiment Learners leave one line of seedlings unthinned and observe the difference from the other rows.

LESSONS IN OTHER SUBJECTS

Drama Growing up

Environment Natural selection

PLANTING AND TRANSPLANTING

STAGE

QUESTIONS

ANSWERS

Sowing

When do we sow the seed?

How do we sow the seed? How deep?

How far apart should the rows be?

 

Growing

Thinning

Hardening off

How long do they take to germinate?

Do we thin out the seedlings? When?

When should we harden them off?

 

Transplanting

When do we transplant them?

How far apart?

 

Growing plants

How do we look after the plants?

 

Harvesting

How long until they are fully grown?

How/when do we harvest the crop?

 

Storing

How do we store the crop?

 

GROWING SCHEDULE FOR TOMATOES

INSTRUCTIONS MONTH 1 MONTH 2 MONTH 3 DETAILS
Sow x     1.5 mm deep
Germination xxx     Takes 6-14 days
Transplant to pots OR thin out xxx     When large enough 2 cm apart
Harden off   xx   When 20 cm tall
Plant out in garden
Provide support
Remove side shoots
  xxx
xx
xx
xxx 45 cm apart, rows 75 cm apart
Fertile well-drained soil
Support with bamboo.
Tie up branches.
Harvest     xxxxxxx In about 80 days
Water well xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx  

Instructions for "Gardeners Delight", Thompson & Morgan (2004)

THE STAGES

SOWING

1. Make a seed bed with fine rich soil.

2. Weed well.

3. Flatten it neatly.

4. Protect seeds.

5. Mix seeds with fine soil or sand.

No lumps, sticks or stones

Get the roots out

Use a board.

Make shade. Keep away pests.

Keep the packets.

 

6. Draw lines.

7. Sprinkle seeds.

8. Cover lightly.

9. Water well.

10. Mulch.

A few cm deep, about 15 cm apart

Label the rows.

Press down gently.

Dont flood!

Keep cool and damp. Stop competition!

 

GROWING, HARDENING OFF AND THINNING

1. Water twice a day.

2. Keep mulching.

3. When they have true leaves, thin them out.

4. 6-8 weeks after germination, harden them off gradually.

Morning and evening

Mulch keeps plants cool and damp and stops the competition.

About 5 cm apart

Give them more sun and weather every day.

TRANSPLANTING AND PLANTING OUT

1. Prepare good raised beds.

2. Transplant when its cool.

3. Mark lines and holes.

4. Dig holes.

5. Choose strong healthy seedlings.

Lots of compost and topsoil

A cloudy day, morning, evening

Read instructions on seed packets.

Put in a little compost.

Healthy plants make good food.

 

6. Scoop up plants.

7. Transplant them.

8. Fill with soil.

9. Water right away.

10. Mulch around plants.

Take some soil with the roots.

Handle roots delicately.

Press down lightly.

Water ground, not plants.

Keep water in. Keep away weeds.

11. Water regularly for good growth.

If plants get too dry they will wilt and not grow.

 

3. MULCHING: THE SOIL BLANKET

Mulching is mentioned in many lessons, for example those dealing with soil, organic gardening, weeding, watering and planting. This lesson brings it all together. Do it in the garden whenever you are ready to mulch. Younger learners should only do steps 1 to 5.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners

- recognize the value of mulching
- know how to mulch and when.

RESOURCES NEEDED

- wilting plants in dry soil overgrown with weeds
- some kind of good mulch (e.g. leaves, dry grass without seeds)
- some dry grass with seeds
- water and watering can
- large labels and string for "problem cards"
- big felt pen

PREPARATION

Either find some dry cracked soil in the garden and some wilting plants surrounded by weeds Or take a few wilting plants into the classroom (together with soil and weeds).

LESSON

1. Lead-in Learners recall What plants like (Lesson A2).

2. Problems Present some plants which are wilting in dry soil, diseased or overgrown with weeds.
(For younger learners give the plants local names:
Poor Sammy and Betty!). What are their problems? (weeds / no water / poor soil). Learners write these problems large on separate "problem cards", and tie them onto the plants as labels.

3. Ideas How can we help these plants? Ask for suggestions. Warmly approve proposals for watering, taking out weeds, adding compost, picking off bugs. Explain that there is another way to help: MULCHING, or making a "soil blanket". Mulching is Magic!

4. Mulching

a) Show learners some "good mulch" (if possible, light-coloured straw).

b) Pick out "bad mulch" with weed seeds in it. Learners sort the good from the bad and make a special trip to put the bad mulch on the compost heap.

c) Start putting the good mulch around a few of the plants.

d) Learners continue until it is about 6 cm thick. Encourage them to feel protective!

e) Learners water the plants.

5. Why mulch? Learners look at the "problem cards" one by one. How does mulching help with each problem? Encourage learners to work out the answers (see Guide: Why Mulch?).

6. Explaining (for older learners) Two learners volunteer to give a "mulching demonstration" to the class on another suffering plant, with commentary. They should explain the problem, then show the materials and the method, and finally give the reasons. The class help and correct the speakers. If time allows, learners can all practise mulching demonstrations in groups.

7. Planning (for older learners) Discuss and decide what needs mulching in the garden, who will do it and when. Also plan for collecting and storing mulching materials.

FOLLOW-UP

1. Demonstrations Learners do "Mulching Magic" demonstrations for families/friends at home.

2. Control experiment (for older learners) Take two adjoining plant areas with the same plants and similar exposure. Heavily mulch one area. Use litre/gallon jugs for watering so that you can track how much water is being used. Check soil moisture daily with fingers to demonstrate how mulch helps to retain moisture. Do a weed count on both patches. Adapted from Guy et al. (1996)

3. Song Any marching song goes well with the words Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch! Or find a tune that fits these words: Mulch cools the earth! Mulch stops weeds! Mulch feeds the plants! Mulch saves our water! Sing it as you go to work.

LESSONS IN OTHER SUBJECTS

Science Evaporation, condensation

MULCHING: WHAT AND WHY?

Is your soil poor? Do you have a hot climate? Do you have very little water?

THEN YOU NEED TO MULCH!

WHAT TO DO

Mulch covers the ground round plants so other plants cant grow.

Make it thick - about 6 cm.

You can use:

leaves

straw

straw

BUT NOT GRASS
WITH SEEDS!

Light-coloured mulch reflects away light and heat.

 

It keeps moisture in.
Water gets in but cant get out.

It prevents weeds.
Nothing grows in the dark.

WHY MULCH?

It keeps soil cool and soft.
Diseases dont like cool soil.
It improves the soil.
It turns into compost.

4. WATERING (1)

Watering (1) and (2) should be consecutive lessons, about a week apart. Both should be done mainly in the garden, once crops have been planted.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners

- appreciate plants water needs.

RESOURCES NEEDED
(for older learners) Five questions written large on separate cards/strips:

- Where is there water/moisture in the garden?
- Where is the water in plants?
- Where do plants get water from?
- How does the water get into the plant?
- How much of a plant is water?

LESSON

1. Lead-in Learners recall What plants like (Lesson A2). Pick up the need for water. Ask:

a) Can plants have too much water? (when, for example?)

b) Can they have too little? (when, for example?).

c) Are plants the same as people? (see Guide A).

2. Plants and water Ask and discuss the five MAIN questions. (For older learners, pin up the question cards one by one for discussion.) Get some ideas.

3. Send learners to the garden to hunt for answers. Explain that they are looking for dampness/moisture, not for drops or streams. Suggest they look in leaves, stems, fruits and roots, and in the soil.

4. Feedback on garden investigation Ask the questions again one by one. Learners say where they found moisture in the garden (mostly in the soil) and in plants (all through the plant). Where does the moisture come from? (the soil) How does it get into the plant? (sucked up through roots N.B. not through the leaves!). Older learners can write the answers on the cards.

Pause on the last question: How much of a plant is water? and ask for guesses (half? quarter?).

- For younger learners, tell them it is almost all of the plant (90%). A plant is just a bag of water.
- For older learners, dont give an answer. Ask them to record their guesses (e.g. Six of us think a plant is 25% water) and say we will do an experiment to find out.

5. Shrinking Grass experiment (for older learners) Set up the Shrinking Grass experiment (Guide B), to be finished in the following lesson.

FOLLOW-UP

1. Drama A chorus of learner "plants" complain about dry feet, wet feet, hot feet, floods, hard soil, weeds etc. Learner "gardeners" rush to answer their complaints one by one.

2. Experiment write-up Older learners begin to write up the Shrinking Grass experiment under the headings Purpose and Method.

LESSONS IN OTHER SUBJECTS

Biology Plant physiology

Watering (1) and (2) should be consecutive lessons, about a week apart. Both should be done mainly in the garden, once crops have been planted.

HOW MUCH WATER DO PLANTS NEED?

PLANTS ARE LIKE PEOPLE

THEY CAN HAVE

TOO LITTLE WATER.

OR THEY CAN HAVE

TOO MUCH WATER

OR THEY CAN HAVE

JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT.

THE SHRINKING GRASS EXPERIMENT

TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH OF A PLANT IS WATER

You will need:

- some freshly cut green grass or weeds
- a lightweight container (e.g. box, plastic bottle), transparent if possible
- weighing scales if possible.

  1. Setting up the experiment

    1. Weigh the container (or pass it round to feel the weight).

    2. Fill it completely with freshly cut green grass or weeds. Everybody can help to pack it in.

    3. Weigh the container again and work out the exact weight of the grass. If there are no scales, feel the weight by hand, and find another object weighing about the same.

    4. Take out the green stuff, spread it on a piece of newspaper and put it in a safe warm dry place.

    5. Leave it for a week to dry out and lose its water.

  2. Looking at the results

    1. After a week put the dry grass back into the same container and weigh it again.
      The grass will have shrunk and lost weight because it has lost water.

    2. Compare the dry weight with last weeks wet weight. Estimate or calculate
      what percentage of the weight and volume remain. The lost weight is all water.

  3. Conclusions (keep these for the end of the experiment)

Plants are about 90% water. Like people, if they dont drink they die.

This is why watering is so important.

5. WATERING (2)

This lesson introduces good watering practices and finalises the Shrinking Grass Experiment.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners

- know when and how to water plants.

RESOURCES NEEDED

- a part of the garden that needs watering
- watering cans/buckets/hosepipe
- sticks for measuring the depth of moist soil, with marks at 3 cm and 25 cm
- mulching material
- Golden Rules for Good Watering on display (see
Guide A)

PREPARATION

- Before the class, learners ask local gardeners how they water their crops, when and how much.
- Write the Golden Rules for Good Watering (Guide A) in large letters, each on a separate card or paper strip (N.B. only the rules, not the comments).

LESSON

1. Lead-in Learners recall last lessons question

How much of a plant is water? Emphasize the importance of water for plants. Look at the results of the Shrinking Grass experiment from the previous lesson: this will bring out the same message.

2. Feedback on local investigations Ask learners what they found out about how local gardeners water plants. Did they find the methods shown in Guide B? What advice did they get?

3. Seven Golden Rules Learners hold up the Seven Golden Rules for Good Watering one by one and read them out. For each, they say why it is important.

At the end turn the rules face down and ask the class to remember them all. As they call them out, stick them up again.

4. Watering demonstration Go round the garden with the whole class. Feel the earth and demonstrate measuring the need for water with the measuring stick. Wherever water is needed, the class suggests the best way to do it, recalling appropriate Golden Rules. Learners take turns to do each watering task.

5. Summing up Ask learners to hold up each Golden Rule again. The class picks out the rules they used in their demonstration session.

FOLLOW-UP

1. Experiment write-up Older learners finish writing up the Shrinking Grass experiment under the headings Results and Conclusion. They can repeat the experiment at home for their families.

2. Establishing good practice Accompany the class on their next two watering sessions, so they can show they know what to do. When a new crop is planted, discuss the watering approach.

3. Moisture measures Learners make themselves "moisture measures" for homework and show their families how they use them.

4. Golden Rules Display the Golden Rules in the classroom or in waterproof form in the garden.

5. Watering experiment Divide a row of plants into three. Learners overwater one part, dont water another part, and treat the third part just right. They label each part with waterproof plastic flags (e.g. TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE, JUST RIGHT), then measure and record the growth and health of the three parts over two weeks.

LESSONS IN OTHER SUBJECTS

Science Experimental method

SEVEN GOLDEN RULES FOR GOOD WATERING

MEASURE MOISTURE EACH DAY

The top 25 cm of soil should be damp. If the top 3 cm is dry, its time to water. Make a stick to measure.

WATER IN THE EVENING OR MORNING

Dont let the water evaporate in the heat of the day.

WATER SOIL, NOT PLANTS

Water on leaves can hurt the plant and may not reach the roots. Water between plants and around them.

BE GENTLE

In particular, water seeds and seedlings frequently and gently.

DONT OVERWATER OR FLOOD

Plants can drown, just like people. If they need a lot of water, give it in stages.

DEEP ROOTS DONT NEED MORE WATER

Let them dry out between waterings to encourage roots to grow.

MULCH MULCH MULCH!

Mulching keeps the water in.

 

WAYS OF WATERING PLANTS

Flood the bed

Drip irrigation

Water by hand

Make water traps

Individual watering

Make sunken beds in dry places to keep water in.

Use a drip hose or soaker hose.

Use a watering can or a plastic bottle.

Keep the water round the plant.

Use tins and plastic bags.

 

 

MAKE EVERY DROP COUNT

 

GET THE WATER TO THE ROOTS

 

6. WEEDING

The spirit of battle is the best approach to weeds. But learners need to know how to prevent them as well as how to get rid of them, and also that not all weeds are harmful to crops. Do this lesson in the garden, once crops are growing. You may need a double lesson.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners

- recognize common local weeds and their characteristics
- find out how local gardeners deal with them
- know how to control weeds easily, cheaply and ecologically.

RESOURCES NEEDED

Numbered slips of paper with one question on each:

1. How many different kinds of weed can you find in the garden? Do you know their names?

2. Which is the commonest weed? Do you know its name?

3. Where are the weeds growing? Are there any near the crops?

4. Where are the weeds growing thickest? Why?

5. Which is the biggest weed? How big is it? Where is it?

6. Which weed has the deepest root?

7. Are any of our crops in danger from weeds? Which?

8. Where are there no weeds? Why not?

9. Are there any insects on or around any of the weeds? Are any of the weeds sick?

10. Do any of the weeds have flowers or seeds?

How do they spread themselves/propagate?

PREPARATION

Learners find out about important local weeds and how gardeners deal with them.

LESSON

1. Lead-in Ask the class What is a weed? (It is just a plant in the wrong place!).

2. Weed hunt Each group takes one of the prepared questions, reads it aloud to the whole class, then goes into the garden to find the answer. Give a time limit. Tell groups to bring back weed samples to illustrate their answers.

3. Feedback Groups report back and display their samples. With older learners, discuss the survival strategies of the sample weeds (e.g. thousands of seeds, deep roots, fast life cycle, extra height to catch the sun).

4. Friend or enemy? Are all weeds bad for crops? Can they be good? Referring to what learners have found, lead them to recognize the dangers and benefits of weeds (see Guide A).

5. Weed strategy (older learners) Discuss strategies for dealing with weeds (Guide B).

6. Routine (older learners) Agree on a weeding routine and discuss how to keep weeding interesting (see Guide D).

FOLLOW-UP

1. Weed policy Older learners create a weed policy (Guide C) and explain it to visitors and families.

2. Drama Act out the battle between weeds and gardeners, showing both sides strategies.

3. Favour a weed Teams each choose a weed, cultivate it, illustrate its growth, study its survival strategy and make a presentation on it.

4. Weed book Press weeds (see Lesson B1 Ecological audit) and create a Weed Book, giving name, date and information for each specimen.

5. Experiment Leave one patch of plants unweeded. Measure the plants and count the insects each day, comparing with weeded plants.

6. Name a weed Give a prize for the best invented name for a common local weed, accompanied by a drawing and description (see Guide D).

LESSONS IN OTHER SUBJECTS

Science Natural selection: survival strategies

WEEDS: FRIENDS OR ENEMIES?

 

 

SOME WEEDS ARE GOODFOR THE GARDEN

They attract good insects.

 

They make the soil rich.

 

Bees and butterflies are friends.
They pollinate flowers.

 

Legumes give nitrogen to the soil.

 

 

 

SOME WEEDS ARE BAD FOR THE CROP

Some pests like to live on tough weeds.

 

Weeds can starve crops.

 

They are too close for comfort!
They can move from weeds into crops.

 

They take the light, water and food for themselves.

WEED CONTROL

PREVENT WEEDS

Fill up the space.

Cover the ground.

Create shade.

Lay mulch 6 cm deep.
No weed seeds!

Plant quick-growing vine plants.

Grow crops in layers.

REMOVE WEEDS

Dig or pull weeds when ground is damp.

Dont use weedkiller.

Use weeds for compost.

Catch them small!
Dont let them go to seed.

It can kill good insects.
It can kill good plants.
It poisons the soil.
It can kill YOU.

Use weeds for mulch - but not if full of seeds!

OUR WEED POLICY

WEED WINNERS

WE ENJOY WEEDING!

We celebrate daily victories over weeds.

We keep a weed diary.

We study weeds. We have a Weed Book.

We have competitions for the most weeds pulled,

the biggest leaves, the fastest weeder etc.

We have a weeding party every month, with refreshments.

WE ARE WEED WINNERS!

 

WEEDY NAMES

Weeds have interesting names.

Some names for weeds in Uganda are:

COUCH GRASS

SODOM APPLE

GOAT WEED

TICK BERRY

GALINSOGA

What names do your weeds have?

Invent a good name for a weed you know!

 

7. KEEPING THE GARDEN HEALTHY

Young gardeners need to realize that heavy indiscriminate spraying with pesticides is not a good answer to the dangers of pests. Instead they should emphasize prevention more than cure, giving priority to the health of the plants and the whole environment. This lesson revises many previous lessons. Younger learners should do only the first two stages, and should do the lesson in the garden so that they remember easily.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners

- practise healthy gardening as a basis for integrated pest management
- know how to encourage beneficial insects.

RESOURCES NEEDED

None

PREPARATION

Learners ask local gardeners how they keep plants healthy.

LESSON

1. Lead-in Ask the learners which is better -

- to get sick and then recover, or not to get sick at all?
- to fight monsters and kill them, or not to have any monsters?
- to be weak and looked after, or to be strong and not to need looking after?
(Lets hope they prefer the second option in all cases!)

2. Prevention and protection Draw conclusions about plants: the best way to prevent them getting sick or struggling to survive is to make them strong and healthy. How do we do this?

a) How do we make beds for healthy plants? Learners recall Lessons A2 What plants like and C6 Garden beds.

b) How do we look after plants to keep them healthy? Learners recall the messages of Lessons B4 Compost, F3 Mulching, F6 Weeding, F4 and 5 Watering.

c) What do we need to protect plants? Learners recall Lesson B3 Insects and others.
Brainstorm ideas. Prompt learners if necessary e.g. What about watering? Tell me about good insects! Why mulch? Older learners can write up key words.

3. The whole picture Learners look at Guide A and find ideas they have mentioned. They pick out anything new and discuss if and how it can be done in the school garden.

4. First patrol Together look at the "patrolling checklist" in Guide B. Take the class into the garden and ask them to do a "garden patrol" in small groups using the questions on the checklist. Ask them what they see and point out things they havent noticed.

5. Routine patrols Establish that we need a regular garden patrol twice a week to keep an eye on things. Learners recap what they will be looking for and organize the patrol. They may, for example, choose a friend, patrol in pairs before school and report to the class each morning before lessons begin.

You may like to have a baton or badge (e.g. the moisture measure from Lesson F5 Watering 2) which is handed on from one weeks duty group to the next.

FOLLOW-UP

Garden log Learners design a report form based on the checklist, and keep a garden log. It should include action taken and results observed.

LESSONS IN OTHER SUBJECTS

Environment Ecology

A HEALTHY GARDEN

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the most effective route to healthy plants. It aims to prevent pests and diseases as much as to cure them. It uses many ways of producing healthy plants and a healthy environment.

1. HOW DO WE LOOK AFTER OUR PLANTS?

Grow plants where it suits them.

Make the soil rich:
add mulch and compost.

Provide shelter and protection.

Some plants need sunlight.
Some like shade.

Feed your crops and they will feed you!

Use hedges against predators.
Use trees to break the wind.

 

Water regularly

Give plants space.

Know the dangers for each plant.

but not too much!

Reduce competition by weeding, mulching, training up.

What might attack your plants?

2. WHO DO WE WANT TO LIVE HERE?

MAKE THE GARDEN A GOOD HOME FOR GARDEN FRIENDS!

Have plants of all kinds and sizes, and flowers all the year.

Leave some bugs for the beneficial insects to eat.

Have plants which attract the good guys ...

Be friends with the Pest Police, e.g. frogs, lizards, ladybirds.

Bring in lacewings and ladybugs.

A few caterpillars or aphids for breakfast!

and which keep the bad guys away.

Invite ducks and hens in to make a meal.

PESTICIDES KILL YOUR FRIENDS AS WELL AS YOUR ENEMIES!!

3. WHAT DO WE GROW AND WHERE?

Plant local varieties.

Use clean up-to-date seeds.

Grow several crops together.

Rotate crops.

They are often stronger.

Its safest to buy them.

It confuses pests.

It cheats diseases and pests and saves the soil.

4. HOW CAN WE KEEP THE GARDEN CLEAN AND TIDY?

Burn diseased plants and take away plant rubbish ...

Keep down weeds.

Keep the compost heap away from the vegetable patch.

...to protect other plants.

Pests live there.

That way diseases cant spread.

 

PATROLLING CHECKLIST

1. Growth

Have the plants grown? How tall are they? What stage are they at?
Are there any fruit or seeds?

2. Health

Are they looking well? Are there signs of pests or diseases? Are any plants wilting or stunted?
Are there fallen leaves, eaten leaves, yellow leaves, fungus?

3. Pests

What insects/worms/animals are around? What signs are there?
What are they doing? Is anything being attacked by pests? (Take a sample)

4. Soil/water

Is the soil dry? Which plants or beds need water? Is anything too wet?

5. Mulching

Is everything well mulched? Where do we need more mulch?

6. Protection

How good is our protection against predators (fences, hedges, walls, scarecrows)?

7. Wind and sun

Are any plants getting too much wind, sun or shade?

8. Space

Are any plants overcrowded? Do any plants need thinning/transplanting?

9. Weeds

Are there a lot of weeds near the plants?

10. Support

Do any plants need training up, tying up, spreading out?

11. Hygiene

What needs tidying up, burning, cutting back, cutting down?

12. Compost/ mulch

How good are our supplies of compost and mulch?

 

8. PLANT DOCTORS

Gardeners generally learn how to deal with plant problems gradually, over a long period. This lesson is only an introduction. Do it in the garden, where learners can see problems first hand and decide on treatment. Younger learners should do only steps 1 to 3. Older learners should keep records and monitor effects so they can see what really works. This will make them resistant to both old wives tales and hard-sell modern chemicals.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners

- make a rough diagnosis of a plant problem
- choose a suitable remedial action and carry it out
- monitor the effects.

RESOURCES NEEDED

- some homemade pesticide (see Homemade Sprays in Horticultural Notes in Setting up and running a school garden).
- a small knapsack spray or hand-held spray
- if possible, an expert gardener to go with you on your garden tour

PREPARATION

- Before the lesson, learners find a plant problem in the garden and mark it so they can find it again. Older learners copy out the Case Notes form (Guide B) and complete parts 1 and 2.
- Take a look round the garden before the lesson and identify a few typical plant problems.

LESSON

1. Lead-in Learners recap what we need to do to have a healthy garden from the previous lesson Keeping the garden healthy. But what if plants get sick? We need to become "plant doctors".

2. Garden tour Take a walk round the garden, with an expert gardener if possible. Learners describe and display the "sick plants" they have studied and give each case a "case name" (e.g. Droopy Daisy, Lacy Leaves).

3. First diagnosis Younger learners decide if the plant needs more (or less) water, better soil, less competition, more (or less) shade, and take appropriate action. Older learners decide if the problem is likely to be a pest, a disease, or a problem of diet, and what makes them think so.

4. Whats the problem? Older learners check Guide A to find the problem and its probable cause (pest, disease, or diet). Help them to see that some symptoms (e.g. wilting) may mean several different things: the only way to find out is by experimenting. If it is a pest, they should play detective and look for the culprit in all the obvious places (they are very good at this!).

5. Whats the solution? Learners check Guide A to see how to handle the problem. Help them to pick up the basic messages (Disease: Destroy. Diet: Feed. Pest: Pick, spray, trap, bring in the Pest Police).

6. Treatment Individuals or teams adopt each case by name, and undertake to carry out immediate treatment. Learners keep Case Notes as they continue treatment/observation.

FOLLOW-UP

1. Case studies Learners maintain the Case Notes for their chosen plants and report on progress. These notes can be kept in the Garden File or collected into a Garden Doctors Casebook.

2. Plant surgeries Do more garden tours (or "plant surgeries") from time to time, and invite local garden experts along as guest doctors.

3. Plant sprays Learners learn to make plant sprays, and show home gardeners outside the school.

4. Interviews Learners interview local gardeners about how they handle specific plant problems, and report in class.

LESSONS IN OTHER SUBJECTS

Science Empirical method

WHATS WRONG WITH MY PLANT?

DISEASE: IS MY PLANT SICK?

Are the leaves covered in powder?

Is the plant wilting or drying up?

Are there black patches with yellow edges?

Are there spots?

Are the leaves rolled up?

Are there red and yellow marks on the leaves?

Are there strange patterns on the leaves?

DESTROY IT! AND START AGAIN

- Use clean seeds.
- Plant it in a different place.
- Let the bed dry out before re-planting.

DIET: IS IT GETTING THE WRONG FOOD?

Does it have yellow leaf veins?

Is it too small?

Are the leaves pale?

Do other plants around look the same?

   Perhaps it needs nitrogen.

Do the edges of the leaves look burnt?

Are there brown patches on the leaves?

   Perhaps it needs potassium.

Are the stems or leaves purple?

   Perhaps it needs phosphorus.

FEED IT!

For all problems, give compost

and mulch and rotate crops.

For nitrogen, dig in legumes (green manure).

For potassium, give wood ash or wood bark.

For phosphorus, add chicken manure or animal bones to your compost.

DEPREDATION: HAS IT GOT PESTS?

Are there insects on the plant?

Are the leaves or stems sticky?

Is there sooty mould on the leaves?

Are the leaves or fruit pale, brown or speckled?

   Perhaps it has sucking insects.

Do the leaves have holes or jagged edges?

Is the plant wilting or falling over?

   Perhaps it has chewing insects.

GET RID OF THEM!

PICK OFF by hand.

WIPE OFF whitefly, scale or mealybug by hand.

TRAP whitefly with "sticky traps". Smear yellow cardboard with petroleum jelly.

TRAP slugs under citrus or potato skins or in a slug trap (e.g. a half-buried can of beer or milk). Spread ash or sawdust around plants.

SPRAY with natural pesticides, or dust with wood ash or flour. Spray under the leaves too!

PEST POLICE Encourage ducks and hens, frogs and lizards, ladybugs and lacewing.

 

CASE NAME

DRAWING

PLANT DOCTORS CASE NOTES

DATE

 

NOTES

 

1 Description of plant & location
(e.g. soil, position, space, light/shade, weeds)

 

 

2 Description of problem
(check leaves, under leaves, stems, buds)

 

 

3 Possible diagnosis

 

 

4 Action taken

 

 

5 Results

 

 

6 Further action taken

 

 

7 Results

 

 

PLANT DOCTORS CASE NOTES example

DATE

 

NOTES

7 July

1 Description of plant & location
(e.g. soil, position, space, light/shade, weeds)

Most cabbages near the wall. No weeds.

 

2 Description of problem
(check leaves, under leaves, stems, buds)

Leaves have irregular holes. Only on cabbages.
A few white butterflies around.

 

3 Possible diagnosis

Chewing insect

8 July

4 Action taken

Found caterpillars, picked them off, fed them to the chickens.

11 July

5 Results

Chickens happy. No new holes in cabbage leaves

14 July

6 Further action taken

Checked 3 days later; found two small caterpillars and removed them.

20 July

7 Results

A week later no new holes

 With thanks to Chris Landon Lane

9. HARVESTING

Harvesting is best learnt at harvest time by hands-on demonstration and practice with the real thing. Consult Food Factsheets, seed packets and local experts for advice on harvesting and storing particular crops. This lesson simply emphasizes principles and reinforces attitudes.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learners

- know which food crops decay rapidly
- appreciate the need for careful harvesting, rapid transport and good packaging, and act accordingly
- know what to do with plant debris.

RESOURCES NEEDED

- if possible, a rotten fruit/vegetable and a dried-out one
- to act out the dialogue:

a) a big basket
b) something to represent tomatoes
(e.g. real tomatoes, crumpled balls of paper, red stones)
c) something to represent tomato plants (legs of desks, twigs, real tomato plants)

PREPARATION

Train two confident learners beforehand to play the parts in the dialogue.

LESSON

1. Lead-in Present a rotten fruit/vegetable and a dried-out one. Discuss if we can eat these or sell them.

2. Rotting and drying out Discuss the following questions briefly at whatever level the learners can manage. Older learners can work in independent groups and report back.

a) Why do foods dry out? (e.g. too much sun, exposure, wind; thin skins).

b) Why do they rot? (rotting caused by bacteria/fungi in the air, enzymes in the food)

c) When do they rot? (e.g. when they are overripe, cut, bruised, wet or warm)

d) Which foods rot quickly? sunflower seeds? bananas? tomatoes? sweet potatoes? spinach? Why? (Older learners can work out that "rapid rotters" are usually ripe, soft and full of water.)

3. Dialogue Present the picture of Mr Rotten Tomato (next page), who hasnt a clue about keeping foods fresh. Act out the situation twice with two different learners: the first time the teacher plays the interviewer, the second time Mr Rotten Tomato.
OR all learners read the dialogue aloud in pairs: at the end choose a good pair to act it out.

4. Advice Run through the dialogue again, pausing at the stars so that the class can advise Mr Rotten Tomato on what he is doing wrong, and why, and what he should do instead. Give hints if necessary, or add points which learners miss.

5. Check Older learners check the advice in the Guide to see if it matches the advice they gave.

FOLLOW-UP

Drama Turn the dialogue into a little play. Present it to other classes when they are about to harvest, so they can discuss how it applies to their own crops.

LESSONS IN OTHER SUBJECTS

Science Decomposition

MR ROTTEN TOMATO PREPARES FOR MARKET

* Asterisks mark places where the dialogue can be paused for learners to explain what is wrong.

Interviewer Hullo, Mr Rotten Tomato, what are you doing?
Mr RT Im harvesting my tomatoes to take to the market.
Interviewer And its so hot, too.
Mr RT Yes, I work hard, even in the sun.*
Interviewer So tell me what you are doing.
Mr RT First I pick up all the ripe tomatoes on the ground.*
Interviewer Also those ones with cuts and bruises? And the squashy ones?
And the spotty ones?
Mr RT All of them.*
Interviewer And then?
Mr RT Then I throw them in that basket over there.*
Interviewer That big basket over there in the sun?
Mr RT Thats right. Then I pick the very ripe ones on the plants, the ones which are almost soft. And I throw them in the basket too.*
Interviewer And then?
Mr RT Then I take them to the market. Tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next day.*
Interviewer In the basket, just like that?
Mr RT Just like that.*
Interviewer And where do you keep them in the meantime?
Mr RT Right here, in the basket in the sun. So they get nice and ripe.*
Interviewer And do you get a good price?
Mr RT No, terrible. No-one wants to buy my tomatoes. Life is hard. But what can you do?*

FRESH AND UNDAMAGED

All crops mature on the plant.
Some can ripen off the plant.

Harvest in the cool of the day.

Use up damaged foods quickly before they rot.

Find out the best way to harvest each crop.

Be gentle! They are fragile!

Only store perfect foods.

 

Pack fruit to transport it...

Do not store in the sun.

Leave the old plants in the soil.

...so it wont get hurt.

This will ruin your crop.

They are good compost.

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