Springtime Fun and LearningCherilyn Ashley
Spring is a great time of the year. As Robin Williams stated, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!’” Being outside brings new teachable moments. Planting a garden is a great example of one of these teachable moments. Plant flowers, herbs, vegetables and one has created an outside classroom for learning across all subject and grade levels.
What is the surface area of one’s garden? How many seeds can one plant? Start by measuring with a tape measure the length of the garden and multiply it by its width. The answer is the surface area of one’s garden. Now how many seeds can one plant to fill that surface area? First, look at the directions on the seed packet to find out how much space each seed will need to grow. Use a ruler to space the seeds, and to make the holes to the needed depth. At the end count the number of holes one made; one now knows approximately how many seeds filled one’s garden surface area.
Journaling the progress of one’s garden can be started by writing regularly about what events affect its growth: rain, dry spells, and insects. Measure the growth of one’s plants and include that information. After the summer is over it is fun to look back and see all the fun one had. Also, one’s journal will help one improve one’s garden next year.
In a garden there is a lot of science going on. One can learn about the science of plants, which is called Botany, by studying photosynthesis, chloroplasts, microorganisms, how plants release oxygen, and the biology of plants. Plants require a wide range of minerals for healthy growth and reproduction. The main nutrients include N, P, K, Ca, Mg and S. Also, found in one’s garden are small amount of Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Bo, Cl, Mo and Ni. The chemical property of one’s soil plays a key role in how productive one’s plants will be. One can pick up a soil testing kit at any plant store, which will help determine what kind of soil one has. This will help determine what kind of essential nutrients one will need to add to the soil to help one’s plants grow. As the plants grow one can experiment with thinning parts of one’s crop and leaving some not thinned to determine which one yielded the most at harvest.
When one plants a garden one needs ways to remember what vegetable or herbs one planted and where they are. One can utilize painted sticks or rocks as one’s marker, write the name of the plant or draw a picture of it to identify the plant’s spot. This summer when the garden is in full bloom make a scrapbook of photos of all the insects one can find in the garden. One can draw, paint or sketch the blooming garden.
Planting and cultivating a garden create endless hours of fun. Children develop lifelong memories while learning the science of a garden. The exciting part is at the end of the season one gets a giant reward of edible goodness.