I'm starting a gardening project with grades Pre-K to 4. We have a very small section of land. I would like ideas. Thank you.
Hardiness Zone: 6a
By Pamela from Philadelphia, PA
Kids love sugar peas. The kind that they can eat the pods too! They're SO sweet, my kids called them "candy-peas" . very healthy snack, & they're easy to grow & fast too! You'll need a trellis to string them on (to take up less room). Look at the thrift store for ideas (like baby-gates, etc). Peas also come in the bush variety & you'll not need a trellis. (Be sure they are the kind that you eat the pods!) Maybe also cherry tomatoes. A fast growing variety.
Next year, before you start put tarps over the area for several months before hand to kill the weeds.
I think I would construct a teepee made from bamboo poles (or other poles, if you can salvage them) and plant scarlet runner beans at the bases of each. The plants will grow up the poles and the teepee can be a nice resting area for the kids. The beans make pretty flowers, and the dried beans (which are pretty purple and black) could be cooked in the fall (saving some for the next planting). Jack Be Little pumpkins will also grow vertically, and give you many little pumpkins for the classrooms in the fall.
Many crops will grow on structures. This lets you plant other things below. For instance, you can plant leaf lettuce under a hoop of wire fencing that you are growing beans on. The shade from the beans as they grow will keep the sun and heat from causing the lettuce to bolt as quickly.
When you have limited space, think vertical! Borrow a square foot gardening book from the library for more ideas on growing in small spaces!
To tie it to an education/nutritional lesson, I would make sure that what you plant can be eaten raw and preferably off the plant. Cherry toms, peas, lettuces. You could try some small pumpkins which would be ready for the kids in the fall.
If you are doing flowers, I'd go with marigolds. They grow well in very sunny locations. When they are finished, take the heads off the stems, let them dry for a week or so then pull them apart to "salvage" the seds for next Spring. In the Spring, et your soil ready, broad cast the seeds over the area, gently tamp the seeds into the soil and water well. When they are about 3 inches high you can thin them out. You will have a ton of seeds, so the kids can take some home with them also.