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GROWEROLOGY BLOG

Benefits of Having a Garden at School

Benefits of Having a Garden at School

Gardening is a productive, peaceful pastime. In today's generation though, the art of gardening is often overshadowed by technology. Why not introduce gardening into the school setting? Together, the combination of education and relaxation can be both educational and fun. 

Improvement of teamwork skills

Student Benefits of Having A Garden At School

Growing a garden takes a village - this is a popular quote among the gardening community. When it comes to having a garden at school, this is especially true because the entire class (or possibly the entire school) is involved in the garden’s success. Students can take turns caring for the garden, picking its fruits and vegetables, and replanting. This fun way of taking turns builds teamwork skills. 


Increases self-confidence 

Being able to successfully grow a garden does wonders for a gardener’s self esteem. After all, there’s nothing better than admiring the flowers or fresh vegetables that you’ve grown from the ground up. In school aged children, growing a garden can help boost their confidence by helping them to feel able and capable. As a result, their grades may improve and gardening can have a positive impact inside the classroom, too. 

Stress relief

Gardening is a peaceful way to pass time. Those who actively work in the garden benefit from stress reduction - adults and children alike. School is an important part of a child’s life,but can be stressful at times.  The stress reducing ability of gardening is a key factor for school children. Children who have decreased stress get better grades and tend to be able to socialize better. 


In addition, children who suffer from developmental delays such as autism tend to find gardening a great way to release built-up tension through a means that is productive.


Subject integration and hands-on learning

Gardening is an interesting, multi-dimensional activity. In school settings, it gives children a way to learn about a variety of topics, many of which expand past the basic “plant growth”  knowledge.

Learning about gardens gives insight into the life cycle of plants and living beings, and familiarizes children with weather patterns. It can be integrated into a number of subjects, making them fun and hands-on. 


Develops a love of nature 

Spending time nurturing the garden through the art of growing can quickly connect children to nature. The regular exposure helps them develop a love of nature that can last a lifetime, providing them with a healthy way to spend their free time and getting them up and out of the house during the summer.

Health and Nutrition Benefits of Having A Garden At School 

Encourages healthy eating

By having a vegetable garden at school, students are encouraged to incorporate healthier snacks into their diet. The veggies grown from these plants can be offered as snacks at recess, or as part of a healthy lunch menu. If the school you’re associated with has any after school cooking clubs or organizations, you can opt to introduce some of the home-grown food. 

Even if students decide not to eat the produce cultivated at school, you’ll be pleased to learn that according to the Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy, three times more students opt to eat healthy snacks after being involved with a garden. This surprising statistic does not change depending on whether the food was grown at school or purchased from the store. 

A higher knowledge of nutrition 

Having a school garden introduces students  to the world of health and nutrition by way of hands on instruction. They learn as they plant and grow in a garden, and this form of learning has more appeal to children than a lecture on the same subject. 

Frequent physical activity

Despite seeming like easy work, working in the garden can be a physical challenge. Deep flower roots, weeds, and vegetables that grow out of the ground can all be hard to pull. Not to mention that if your garden is a flower-based garden, students will need to spend extra time turning the soil. They might also have to do some edging - talk about hard work! Since the garden will need regular tending, you can help your students to be more active. 

Valuable time outside

Gardening is primarily an outdoor activity. It’s really no wonder that having gardening as a hobby increases the amount of time that the participant spends outside. Students who care for a school garden will spend a regular amount of time outside as they tend to the garden, increasing their overall outdoor exposure. This activity is especially helpful for children who are full of curiosity can energy. 

School Gardening Tips 

Set ground rules

Every successful gardening community program has rules. This is no different for school gardens. Regardless of how many people contribute, your school garden should have a set of clear, easy-to-understand ground rules. They can include rules regarding responsibilities and their delegation. 

A few good rules include leaving both bugs and dirt in the garden, using tools properly, no pushing, shoving, or throwing dirt, walking instead of running, and working as a team. 


Build pathways

Have you ever noticed how children always seem to want to walk on pathways? It’s a good idea to ensure that your garden has a variety of pathways leading throughout. This will prevent the plants from being accidentally stepped on and ruined, and will also improve the garden’s appearance. 

Get involved

If you are a teacher or organizer that is considering or has recently set up a school garden, you should not forget to get involved. Work in the garden with the students and have fun - gardening should be a good shared experience for all.


Make use of recycled materials

Gardening supplies can be expensive. From pots and planters, seeds and fertilizer, the items needed can rack up quite a bill. However, if you’re making a school garden, chances are that you’ll have some sort of recycled material at your disposal. Styrofoam cups from the staff room? An old plastic bucket? Empty paper towel rolls? Each of these items make great (and cheap!) planters, not to mention that they give new life to discarded items. 


You can get creative with this and get the students involved. Work together to brainstorm ways to use old supplies in your garden, or take to a sharing site such as Pinterest for creative ideas. If your recycled materials need preparation before they can be used, get the students to help you. 

Develop a routine

It’s always a good idea to create a schedule. Take your class out on the same day every week and be diligent in following your schedule. The children will learn to recognize the schedule and begin to look forward to their time outside in the garden. 


When the gardening efforts involve multiple classes, consider working with other teachers to come up with a routine that works for everyone. Maybe you want to have your classes go out together, or maybe you don’t - either way, consistency in your decided routine is key. 

Demonstrate

While it may be tempting to whip up a power point or slideshow, or have students read about the process of growing plants consider demonstrating the process yourself.

This will keep students actively engaged and encourage them to join in. It can also be a good way to bond with your class. 

 

Conclusion

School gardening is growing increasingly popular around the country. In particular, primary schools are benefiting from this form of education, with students looking forward to working in their gardens. If you’re planning to develop a school garden but aren’t quite sure if you’re up for the challenge, just remember the benefits of doing so: stress relief, the development of healthy eating habits, regular  physical activity, and teamwork building skills to name a few.  
Also, you may want to keep in mind that gardening in a school setting requires ground rules, works best when associated with a routine, and should warrant the involvement of everyone - teacher included. Get out there, get gardening, and have fun!
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How far apart should you plant tomatoes in a garden?

How far apart should you plant tomatoes in a garden?

How far apart should you plant tomatoes in a garden?


Tomatoes that are properly spaced when planted are more likely to be healthier plants and produce a large harvest for your picking. If you are planting your tomatoes in an overcrowded manner or even too widely spaced, it can be detrimental to the plant. 


The spacing of your tomatoes depends largely on two factors. 


First, consider what types of tomatoes you are planning on growing. You must keep in mind that all tomatoes are different and require different care in order to make them bloom. 


The second factor is how you plan on supporting the plants. How much work are you willing to put into the tomatoes? Do you want something more high maintenance or a plant that will allow for less tending? 


Once you have decided on these key factors, you can easily figure out how far apart you need to plant your tomatoes in your garden. 


Proper Spacing When Planting Tomatoes

For healthy and productive tomato plants, spacing plays a very large role. Correct spacing is usually dependent on the type of tomato you are growing, but generally speaking ideal spacing is about 24-36 inches apart. Anything closer than 24 inches will reduce air circulation around the plant and can result in plant disease. 


It is also necessary that light be allowed to reach all around the leaves, so proper spacing is key. Larger tomato varieties should be planted 36 inches apart and consecutive rows should be about 4-5 feet apart. 


Tomatoes Gardening Facts and Tips

In order to get the most out of your tomato garden, here are a few tips and tricks.


The best time to go out and plant tomato seedlings is a few weeks after the last freeze in your area. This will allow enough time for the soil to warm up and the day temperature to stay about 50 degrees. If you are planning to grow your tomatoes straight from seeds, begin the process by planting inside 5-6 weeks before the last frost will occur. 


Tomatoes thrive best when they are exposed to full sun. Placing them in an area that receives a good six hours of sun each day will help your plants thrive. Choose a new location for your tomatoes each year to avoid any problems with disease. 


It is also important to support tomatoes as they grow. Using a wooden stake or bamboo pole will help greatly with this. You can also try some twine or other soft material to tie the vine to the support. Tomato cages are also an option if you are leaning toward planting dwarf varieties. 


Consider feeding your tomatoes once a month with a food blend that is high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen. 


Conclusion

Tomatoes require a lot of care and help in order to grow properly. You must take the time to consider spacing, variety, sunlight, and water. If you do all of this, you will find that your tomatoes will thrive. 

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Are Ants Bad for a Vegetable Garden?

Are Ants Bad for a Vegetable Garden?

Are Ants Bad for a Vegetable Garden?

Gardening is a fun hobby. Something that’s less fun about it, is the annoying pests, like ants, that tend to creep into your crops and cause damage. It’s true that ants can sometimes be helpful to your garden. But other times, they’re just plain bothersome. Luckily, there are some ways to keep these plants out of your garden for good. 

The Good Side of Garden Ants


Ants Act as Pollinators 


Bees are the only species that can pollinate. Ants tend to hop from flower to flower so they can find a meal to begin eating. All of this hopping causes pollination to grow and spread. This is extremely helpful as pollination levels have begun to decrease lately due to the rise in the death of bees. Ants to the rescue!


The Tunnels Can Help the Ecosystem 


Remember when you had to study ants as a kid by watching them crawl around in an ant farm? Just like in the ant farm, they like to dig tunnels. Through these tunnels, ants will transport oxygen, nutrients, and water to various roots of plants.


This helps the plants grow and it helps different organic plants decompose quicker as well. Dead insects and leaves have the power to fertilize different plants, thanks to the work of these ants. 


They Can Kill Off Insects 


Garden ants are known to act as disruptors when they’re around various insects. They tend to eat or kill any bugs that may come their way. Ants enjoy creeping up on mother insects and eating their young or just killing them altogether. Insect eggs are also enjoyed as a delicious snack for ants as well, so they will chew on their eggs as a treat. 


The Bad Side of Garden Ants


They Can Hurt You While Trying to Garden 


If you’re working in your garden and then suddenly feel a sting, that may be a garden ant. These ants can not only be annoying, but painful if you’re trying to work in your garden. Fire ants are known to sting if they feel they’re being bothered and attacked. They may think you’re trying to attack them even if you’re just going about your own business. 


Carpenter ants are a little bit trickier. They will bite you, then spray a stinging sensation on to your wound that can cause you immense pain. 


Ants Can Duplicate and Infest Your Whole Garden 


Ants love to build nests in areas where they’re comfortable and know they can get food. Unfortunately, that perfect location is in your garden. This can lead to various bumps being seen on your lawn, making it look unattractive. Different ant nests can also harm the soil around your plants, making it impossible for any of your crops to grow properly.


Sometimes, even when you think of getting rid of the ant colonies, other surrounding nests may see the free space and move right in.  


Ants Control


Mixing Up Various Ant Killing ingredients 

 

You can mix different ingredients to get rid of the ants crawling around in your garden. Take a cup of sugar, a cup of borax, mix them in a cup then sprinkle it along with the different spots that you see ants building nests.

 

The ants will get excited to see the sugar, mistake it for food and take it to the colony with them. Since borax is very poisonous, it can kill their entire colony soon after they bring it in. 

 

Sprinkle Splenda and Other Artificial Sweeteners 

 

Any food that is a sugar substitute contains harmful ingredients that can potentially kill ants. If you sprinkle it along with the garden where the ants are known to hang out around, they are bound to grab the sweeteners, mistaking it for sugar. They will then bring it back to the other ants, who will all eat it and eventually be positioned. 

 

Boil Water and Pour It On Their Nests 

 

A simple trick is to boil up some water, bring it out to your garden and pour it on the anthill. Since they build their anthills to undergo several types of natural disasters to come their way, it may take more than one try to kill them for good. You may need to refill the pot of boiling water and pour it several times to make sure the ants are gone for good.


Conclusion


While ants may seem little and harmless at first, they can multiply and wreak havoc on your garden. To keep your crops alive and healthy, be sure to follow the necessary procedures to remain prepared as these ants try to take over your garden. 

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Benefits of Getting Involved with a Garden Club or Garden Society

Benefits of Getting Involved with a Garden Club or Garden Society

If you love to putter out and about in learning how all of your different plants grow, why not do so in a group setting? Imagine a group of passionate gardeners who come together to trade different information about all the things they are learning in their own gardens, swapping stories and giving each other tips and tricks on how to grow the perfect garden. It sounds glorious!

 


About a Garden Club


What exactly is a garden club? In layman's terms, it is a group of people in your own area who are interested in coming together to talk about all things gardening. Garden clubs usually start out in one’s own neighborhood. The person who would like to start the gardening club will reach out to their neighbors, maybe even hold a membership drive to sign people up. 
Once you have members involved, you can then hold a roundtable to discuss what different tasks and activities and meetings should be a part of your club. Some garden clubs even go as far as planting a community garden which can benefit the whole town area. 
The best garden clubs usually take advantage of everyone’s knowledge. Having each member design and hold a meeting of their own for the club is a great way to implement this. 

 


Benefits of Joining


There are quite a few different benefits of joining a garden club. 


Interacting with Garden-Minded People
When you join a garden club, each person there is there for one purpose only: to talk about gardening. Most clubs have members that range in age, but when you come together for a common purpose, age doesn’t really matter.
No matter what your gardening interests are in a garden club, you will have a platform to express your feelings about your plants. 

 


Real Communities and Online Communities


Because of the technology of our world today, garden clubs do not have to be limited to real meetings groups. You can find a ton of people online who love gardening as much as you do.
The benefit of online communities is the fact that you don’t have to be bound by weekly meetings. 
Real communities require a bit more commitment, but they are a great way to interact with people who are dealing with the same soil issues as you are or the same weather issues. This allows you to talk about your problems with gardening and hear insightful perspective that may not have been in your purview before.

 


You Love to Learn About Gardening


At first, you may consider joining your local garden club because you enjoy gardens. But you will be astonished at how much you learn when you actually begin to attend events and get to know fellow garden club members. The vast knowledge people possess, and can share, will change the way you see gardening. 

 


Conclusion

Don’t wait to get involved in a garden club if you are interested. Look around your community to see if one is already available; if not, start your own. You’ll be amazed at how much you will enjoy the experience.

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