Providing educational resources to support youth and community gardens has always been an important component of NGA's mission, but we quickly realized our audience also had a universal need for funding and gardening supplies in addition to helpful, inspiring content. When garden programs are conceived, ideas and volunteers are often plentiful, but finding money and materials to bring the programs to fruition can be challenging -- for even well organized efforts.
Whether they're creeping, crawling, hopping, munching, flying, or buzzing, kids love to watch animals in action. Observing wildlife intrigues, entertains, and educates young minds. Although some creatures are unwelcome guests in your vegetable plot, inviting insects and animals into a special wildlife habitat at your school can be an exciting and powerful educational tool.
In most parts of the country, fall is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. The soil is still warm enough for roots to become established before winter sets in, but deciduous trees and shrubs have dropped their leaves and require no energy from the roots for growth. Plant a tree with a child and you're likely also to seed a fond memory that will grow into a deep connection with the tree as both child and tree mature.
"Kids can rally around these vibrant, ephemeral creatures," explains Collegeville, PA, teacher Sandy Sweeney. "And by creating habitats for butterflies, students inadvertently invite and come to appreciate a whole range of other important (though less charming) organisms," she adds. What's more, butterfly gardens can provide an engaging centerpiece for exploring life cycles, habitat components, adaptations, and plant/animal interactions, and for exploring the implications of human-influenced habitat loss.
Humidity is essentially how "wet" the air is. Hot air holds more water vapor than cold air. Most plants do best with a relative humidity (the percentage of the amount of water that the air can hold at a given temperature) of between 45 and 60 percent. High humidity leads to pest and disease problems and causes vapor to condense when warm water-filled air hits a cold surface. Low humidity, on the other hand, can dry out plants.
Watering is an ongoing challenge for school greenhouse growers. Water is the solvent that carries minerals from the soil to plants via the roots. A raw material used in photosynthesis, water enters the roots as a liquid and exits the leaves as a vapor as it's transpired.
You and your students will want to start some seeds in their permanent containers or beds, if you are raising crops that do not transplant well (such as beans, peas, cucumbers, melons, squash, carrots, beets, and radishes) or if transplanting them later on isn't an option. You may choose to sow other seeds in temporary containers, and later transplant them to larger containers or greenhouse beds.