Back to School Garden Guide
The “Back to School Garden” technique is designed to fit the school calendar. It features vegetables that students
can help plant in the spring that require very minimal maintenance/watering over the summer and will then produce
a great harvest of winter squash, sunflowers and popping corn just in time for students to come back to school in the
fall. It also prevents weeds and improves soil quality. After harvesting the garden in September, we are encouraging schools to then plant a fall garden of kale, chard, lettuce, peas and herb seedlings to grow for the cafeteria.
The Back To School Garden program solves major issues confronting school gardens, especially summer maintenance while generating abundant harvests for cafeterias and teaching students about essential garden-based lessons including: decomposition, soil building, successional planting and season extension. September is an ideal time to plant certain crops in Maine, such as salad greens, kale, chard, parsley, cilantro and spinach, that can fill cafeteria salad bars and food pantries in some instances. Preparation for this gardening technique starts in the spring before the school year ends with “sheet-mulching” of the garden beds using paper and compost that will eliminate weeds and increase fertility over the summer. The students can plant vegetables that grow through the summer, with minimal maintenance, that will be ready for harvest when they go back to school. After this harvest, beds are ready for the students to plant hardy seedlings that thrive for the months of September, October, November and December with season extending row cover (these seedlings survive through the winter in a greenhouse). Below is a 8 step spring prep guide. ReTreeUS has been working to promote this technique with the Maine School Garden Network. Check it out, feel free to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions and happy back to school gardening!
Learn more by watching our Back to School Garden videos on YouTube created in coordination with Coast of Maine!
Back to School Garden Overview Video 1
Back to School Garden Overview Video 2