For a brief idea on what I’m planning for the first few sessions of MeadowKids Garden and Nature Club:
12 Sept: Session 1: SEEDS
We’ll discuss what a seed is, and where it comes from and why the plants make them (light botany)
We’ll hands-on look at some different shapes, sizes and colours of seeds (e.g. glass gem corn, striped and dotted beans, tiny celery seeds and large kumquat seeds, seeds in apples etc).
We’ll think about all the seeds we eat and have some examples of them available (e.g. peas, beans, pumpkin seeds, wheat, mustard, coriander etc)
We’ll quickly think about all the ways seeds disperse in the wild (seeds that use wind like dandelions, others that cling to you like cleavers, some that are eaten and dropped by birds etc)
We’ll sow some seeds – the kids will get a chance to sow some small and light seeds like lettuce seeds, and some larger and heavier seeds like bean seeds, and compare the different ways of sowing each.
These plants will be used the next week to start off our gardens.
IF TIME ALLOWS We’ll also make a seed card / seed bomb of wildflowers as a gift for a friend/family member.
26 Sept: Session 2: SOIL
We’ll do a soil layer glass jar experiment to see the “ingredients” of soil.
We’ll hands-on look at different soil types, and discuss what makes a good garden soil. It’s fun and muddy, so make sure the kids wear old clothes.
We’ll build a lasagna-type garden bed with layers of cardboard, mulch, compost and soil.
We’ll do some soil testing – see if the soils are alkaline or acidic, or neutral, and discuss what we can do to make it perfect for our veggies if it needs amendment.
(^I’ll have some acidic soil and some alkaline soil test buckets, we can add the amendments e.g lime to acid and sulfur to alkaline and two week later do a soil test again to see how it changed).
We’ll plant lettuce and marigold seedlings in our lasagna garden bed to start off our garden.
Kids can tell me what food plants they’d like to grow in their gardens.
We’ll plant some seeds for the plants they wouldl ike to grow in their gardens.
10 Oct: Session 3: PLANNING & LAY-OUT (please note this is IN SCHOOL HOLIDAYS)
Now we know what the kids want to grow, it is time to plan and lay out their gardens for optimal growing, for this:
We’ll discuss plant spacing, e.g. plant grows bigger than the seedling you put in.
We’ll discuss plant needs, e.g. some plants need lots of sun, others not.
We’ll discuss companion planting, e.g. some plants like to grow with specific plants, others dislike being grown close to a particular plant.
It’s going to be a fun day where the kids pretend to be their favourite vegetable in order to help us lay out our garden beds according to some of the above principles.
I’ll make vegetable cards with size placeholders for the ultimate spread and growth of each plant, also including good companions and bad companions. Each kid gets a card and they have to arrange themselves to fit all the criteria, e.g. a bean can’t be in front of a garden bed as it will shade out the other plants.
When a final workable plan has been worked out, we’ll put the placeholder cards in the garden beds and start to plant a few seedlings.
If time allows we can make some plant name stakes to put in our garden.
24 Oct: Session 4 : MAIN PLANTING DAY
After Labour Weekend most cold weather dissipates and it is a good time to put all our vegetables in the garden.
This session is going to be all about planting our garden up with seedlings like we discussed the previous session.
Hands-on demonstrations of good planting practices. How to properly plant seedlings for maximum growth. How to plant tomatoes etc.
We’ll also talk about succession planning and start sowing seeds for more crops to replace the early maturing ones we have planted.
IF TIME ALLOWS we’ll do some garden art and craft on the day too, e.g. nature weaving, or creating mandalas etc.
7 Nov: PEST INSECTS and GOOD INSECTS
We’ll discuss a garden ecosystem.
We’ll see what pests there are in the garden.
We’ll discuss the importance of organic or natural control of garden pests, rather than using chemicals.
We’ll make a scarecrow for our garden.
We’ll put copper tape around our garden beds.
We’ll make a yeast trap for snails.
We’ll make an aphid-away garlic spray.
We’ll see what beneficial insects and animals there are in the garden.
We’ll plant beneficial insect attracting flowers – for bees and hoverflies.
We’ll start on a bug hotel for our gardens.
Other sessions include: Gardening with your senses (sour lemons, sweet stevia, bright poppies, variegated leaves, fluffy leaves, spiky thorns, birds and insects buzzing, wind blowing, smelling sweet flowers, seeing textures etc).
Nature scavenger hunts, Birds in the Garden, Native plants etc.