Let it Go

Let it go

Yes friends, I do hear Elsa’s voice singing in my head quite a bit lately. Like many of you, I entered Spring Break with a long list of all the tasks and projects I wanted to accomplish this spring in our school garden. Before the break, we had planted seeds for our Tops and Bottoms garden (lettuce, kale, carrots, radishes and corn), grew our own tomatoes from seed for the pizza garden and were watching our hydroponic tomatoes beginning to show signs of turning red to the amazement of teachers and students alike. And then, in a very rapid sweep, each day of Spring Break brought news of a changing reality. By the end of the week, we were no longer returning to school in the near future.

My first thoughts were along the lines of: How can we get things weeded and cleared out now? What can I do to keep what is already planted going? How can I keep it all watered? Will school return this year? If we do go back, will the kids be sad if the garden is a disaster? What will happen if we don’t go back? The school district does not want people on campus, can I even get special permission to water the plants? Add that to keeping up with work and taking on the task of home schooling using all the content coming my way from our school district and I was feeling a bit frazzled and stressed after week one. Over the weekend, I had a chance to take a breath and I heard a wonderful message about how at this time, it is okay to let things go. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

For all of you who are dedicated to keeping your school gardens going during this challenging time, a big WOW! and thank you for your efforts. Your kids will be so very excited when they go back. I have heard wonderful stories of educators able to share the growing garden with their students through digital communications. For those of you who are maintaining food gardens to help make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are available in your community, an even bigger applause. The value of gardens to local food systems is higher and more evident than ever.

But I hope that you guys don’t mind that I want to share this message too, just in case some of you might be in my situation where the balls in the air are just too many: it is okay to let it go if you need to. I found homes for most of the tomatoes that were slated to be planted in the pizza garden and then potted up what I had left in 5 gallon buckets with holes drilled in the bottom. If Mother Nature throws rain our way, some plants may make it, and some plants may not. The weeds will probably take over. There will probably be fire ants. But the bottom line is that when we get back, we can reclaim it. Perhaps there will even be some good lessons to learn along the way as we do.

Deciding what can be let go and what cannot is a constant process and that list will be different for everyone. I am trying to make it a priority to get outside in some way or another every day because I know how important that is for all of us. With my new class of two students, we are continuing to visit our pollinator garden on wheels to watch the monarch caterpillars chomp away (we have 1 chrysalis already) and we also make sure to swing by our honeysuckle vine to taste the flowers (my son’s absolutely favorite garden activity right now) and check in on our nesting cardinals there. It is not the grand garden program I had planned, but I will tuck those ideas away for a later date and keep dreaming while remembering to look for the peace that I can find today in whatever bit of nature I can find.

At Home Garden Activities

at home activities

KidsGardening is here to support our community of families and educators. As you are figuring out educating or entertaining your children in these coming weeks, we want to be a resource for you. We are sharing some of our favorite garden- and nature-based activities and lesson plans on our social media channels. We are focusing on ideas that don't require many materials, and oftentimes with things that you already have on hand. (Although everyone's craft cupboard and garden shed are different.)  Here's a few things we've shared, and a few others that we will further down the line. On social media (particularly on Facebook and Instagram), we'll be sharing ways to adapt and/or simplify the activities to meet your needs. 

  • Create a Seed Viewer: This is a simple planting project that allows you to observe how the roots of a plant form. Beans tend to work best, but you could also try using peas—in fact, it might be neat to try out both and compare how the two varieties grow.
  • Make Seed Balls: Seeds balls are fun, hands on, and... messy, but that’s partly why they’re fun to make! I’d recommend using small wildflower seeds for this project, and if they’re native varieties even better. Once you’ve made your seed balls, let them air dry, then store them in a safe place until you’re ready to plant them in the spring.
  • Attempt a Seed Dissection: Seeds are often so small, it can be hard to imagine what they look like  inside. Learn how to dissect a soaked lima bean and identify various seed parts with this in-depth activity. 
  • Try your hand at Kitchen Scrap Gardening: Growing a new plant from an old one is remarkably simple. From carrots to pineapples to avocados, it’s easy to set up a system that allows these foods to regrown. You can choose a short term growing experiment (ex: regrowing greens) or a something that may last many years (germinating a seed from an old orange and nurturing it as it develops into a citrus tree over time).

Our website has many more activities, lesson plans, garden basics, and growing guides. We’d love to hear about the projects you’re tackling, and how we can be helpful when it comes to garden projects with your kids. 

Plant a Seed Day

plant a seed day

Y'all - spring is SO CLOSE. I know it's 80 degrees in some parts of the country, but here in Vermont it is ... not that temperature. Regardless of temperature, the first day of spring is just a few weeks away. If you're looking for a meaningful, and garden-related way to celebrate, consider taking part in Plant a Seed Day, hosted by our friends at Big Green.

On March 19, you can join a massive day of action that rallies people to stand up and take action to build a better food system. In our country, there are 40 million people who don’t have reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food.

It's simple - pledge to plant a seed, with your family, students, co-workers, or whoever you consider your people. And then, on March 19, the first day of spring, get planting! I already told you about my flower garden dreams for this summer, but now I'm also thinking about all the tomatoes and eggplants and peppers and brassicas that I will start from seed. Together, my family will weed, water, and care for those plants until we harvest and eat them. I am so grateful that we are able to feed ourselves this way.