When planning a school garden there are many options of things to grow. I like to focus on plants that have a high success rate, are easy to grow, and are the most fun to eat. Another consideration is to choose plants for your school garden that don’t take too long to grow. For instance, if you planted garlic it takes a year to finish. If you plant a fruit tree it will produce for many years which is great but requires some planning because you won’t get fruits usually until the tree matures a few years.
I’m going to discuss my favorite things to plant in a school garden that works in most climates and for indoor gardening.
Before discussing your best options of what to plant, it is worth mentioning that you can use a myGroFarm Deluxe or Classic for an indoor school garden in any classroom. The first major consideration is whether your school garden will be indoors or outdoors. myGroFarm has been a big hit with high school gardens. If it is indoors you will want a Grow Light from myGroFarm or other grow light designed for indoor growing. If it is outdoors you need to lookup your planting zone and lighting conditions should be in full sun. Plan your school garden with plants that do best in your zone.
Here are the real winners for any school garden.
School Garden Greens:
Kale - Kale is my favorite green for a school garden. Kale is one of the most nutritious foods per calorie of all time. First of all, Kale is extremely hardy and productive. I have literally kicked snow off of Kale in February and cut a bunch of leaves to make into a soup. Kale can withstand summer heat and freezing temperatures. Kale is great for soups, salads, baking with oil and salt into “kale chips” a healthy alternative to potato chips and other snacks.
Spinach – Spinach works great in school gardens because it is cold hardy and can be planted again and eaten every 3 weeks. That way, students can continually plant in their school garden and see the results right away. They can also eat the results in salads which is really satisfying.
School Garden Root Crops:
Radishes – Radishes are great to eat in salads and you can even eat the greens as well. Radishes in your school garden will help teach students to use multiple parts of the plant.
Carrots – Carrots are a great root crop for your school garden. Carrot tops can be eat or cooked and eaten. One good rule is that many greens that are bitter or spicy can be cooked and are more mild and tastier after cooking.
School Garden Herbs:
Stevia – Stevia is a great alternative to sugar and works perfect in your school garden. Stevia is supposedly 10 to 100 times more potent than sugar. By eating or sucking on a stevia leaf with lemon or mint flavor you make a candy in your mouth. This is explained a bit more below in the lemon basil and mint sections.
Lemon Basil – So I’m partial to lemon basil for a school garden. The leaves of lemon basil taste much more like lemon than basil. For a tasty treat take 1 leaf of lemon basil and 1 leaf of stevia and slowly chew them or let them sit in your mouth. The sweetness of stevia and lemon flavor make a lemon drop candy in your mouth and its nutritious instead of sugary. What student wouldn’t want a candy treat right in their school garden.
Mint – Any gardener will tell you that mint grows like a weed. That’s great for having a successful herb in your school garden. A mint leaf with a stevia leaf in your mouth, will be like a spearmint or peppermint candy. This is a real treat for students, teachers, and pretty much everyone.
Basil – Regular basil is tasty and hardy and can be put in a number of dishes. Basil like many plants should be harvested by cutting sections of stems or braches off with the leaves. It is usually bad to just pull the leaves off of plants. Basil is great for making pesto which can be frozen or made into packages that are taken home by the student.
Cilantro/Coriander – Cilantro tastes great and works well in the school garden. Not everyone knows that coriander spice comes from the dried seeds that form in bunches at the top of cilantro. This is great to show students how different parts of plants are used. Dried coriander seeds can be taken home by students or ground up into coriander powder. Coriander is one of the secret ingredients in Coca-Cola. A simple taste test will make this apparent.
Let me know if you have other favorites for your school garden.
Also, I recommend using optimized square foot garden spacing as the best way to plan what you will grow where.
myGroFarm loves working with schools so give us a call or send an email and we will be happy to give you a special deal.