The Magic of Greenhouses

Greenhouses bring back fond childhood memories for me.  I can remember going with my Dad to water at the University greenhouses on weekends and loving the humidity, warmth and just the way they smelled.  The lush, green growth was a welcome sight especially when the world outdoors was dormant in winter months. Visiting Franklin Park Conservatory was also a Christmas tradition for our family and no matter how many times we visited, seeing bananas grow on trees was just so awesome!

With these experience etched in my brain, I can definitely relate to the appeal of creating year round growing spaces at schools that can be achieved through the installation of a greenhouse.  They can extend your growing season significantly and be especially useful for schools in northern climates. That being said, I am usually not quick to recommend them for most schools.  I have lost count of how many times I have gotten a call from a teacher explaining they took a job at a new school and inherited an abandoned greenhouse with no clue what to do with it.  Even more than regular outdoor school garden beds, when a school greenhouse loses its main champion, it seems like sustaining the program becomes a real challenge.  Although it is certainly not brain surgery, greenhouses definitely require more knowledge and maintenance than many garden spaces (and usually more expenses too).

I am very excited to have found a new resource to share with educators in search of support for new and revitalized greenhouse programs. The United States Botanic Garden, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and City Blossoms have collaborated to publish a great a new Greenhouse Manual specifically for educators.  You can download it for free!

It walks you through the steps of getting started, provides a review of different types of greenhouses, offers basic growing instructions, suggests tips for trouble shooting problems and includes a plethora of ides for connecting it to the curriculum – a key component to making sure it is sustainable over time.  Throughout the guide they also offer program spotlights so you can read about real life programs in action.

So whether you are considering investing in a brand new school greenhouse or you fall into the category of needing to refurbish an existing greenhouse, make sure to check out this very informative Greenhouse Manual.  A big thanks to our friends at United States Botanic Garden, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and City Blossoms for creating this much needed resource!

Sarah Pounders