Growing Together: Open Forum

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  • 1.  Summer Garden Watering and Harvesting

    Posted 05-21-2023 09:36:00 PM
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    Summer break is here or almost here, and if you help manage a school garden or if you're considering starting a school garden, you might be wondering, "Who takes care of the garden during the summer?"  Some schools choose not to grow warm season crops over the summer months, but some do with great success and are able to start the school year in August with mature plants producing many fruits.

    Our school garden in Ohio falls into the latter category, and by growing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and other "summer crops" we're able to add another dimension to the school garden in the form of family involvement. Students plant the summer crops during school in May, and before the school year is over our volunteer garden team sends out a Sign Up Genius to all parents and guardians, giving them an opportunity to sign up to water and harvest the garden during the summer. We list sign up dates for every other day, and we empower families with information about how to know if they need to water, watering best practices, and harvesting, and we include talking points to make it an educational activity for the whole family (see attachment).

    I still remember the time I visited the garden when a family was there for their watering/harvesting day. The second grader told her dad, "I LOVE purple kale!" He responded, "Why? Because it's purple?", to which she exclaimed, "No! Because it tastes good!!", as she tore off a leaf and took a big bite! :) 

    Inviting families to water and harvest, and giving them the knowledge and tools to be successful, beautifully engages our community. Not only do parents/guardians and students feel empowered by the ownership of the space, but it's a great family bonding experience. 

    How do you manage summer watering and harvesting or other summer gardening maintenance? Let's share our tips! And if you have questions, we'd love to offer ideas to help!

    Amber Keller
    Kids Gardening Community Connector
    Massachusetts Master Gardener
    Life Lab-Certified School Garden Educator
    Natick, MA


  • 2.  RE: Summer Garden Watering and Harvesting

    Posted 05-22-2023 11:17:00 PM
    At Allis Elementary in Madison we have done a variety of care plans for summer.

    1). Summer school students help with care and harvesting, with programming coordinated by volunteer garden coordinator

    2). Volunteers harvest produce once a week for a community food pantry.  Volunteer work nights held four times a month, coordinated by volunteer garden coordinator

    3). Families and/or community volunteers adopt a plot for the summer to care for and use the produce for their own family.
    Carol Troyer-Shank
    Allis Garden coordinator

  • 3.  RE: Summer Garden Watering and Harvesting

    Posted 05-28-2023 08:32:00 PM

    These are great ideas.  Here in Houston, Urban Harvest donates sweet potato slips for the school gardens to plant before school closes.  The vines serve as a cover crop to prevent weeds, and the students get to "dig for gold" in the fall when they return.

    Eugene Tuckwiller
    Houston TX

  • 4.  RE: Summer Garden Watering and Harvesting

    Posted 05-30-2023 07:48:00 AM

    Since summer is the hardest time to grow food in Texas, we have a plan in place that works great!

    Our garden is in the south (NTx region) we use black eyed peas as a cover crop over the summer. They do not require watering, add nitrogen to the soil, keep weeds away and give us a crop to harvest when the kids get back. We buy the dry bags of black eye peas from the grocery store and the kids pop them in the before summer. 

    We do have a few gardens of native and perennial plants that we water 1x a week and they do fine.  

    We also have chickens and create a sign up genius for summer care. The families manage the care over the summer and the hens give them eggs. It's a win for all! 

    Right after school starts we have our first community workday where we welcome families to come out and help get the garden ready for planting. We set a monthly workday calendar so that our community will continue to help us grow. 

    Happy summer to you all! Thanks for all your do to grow  the school garden movement. 


    Kim Aman
    Grow Garden Grow
    Dallas TX