Now that planting season is upon us, it is time to plan out your schoolyard garden! Once your students have considered how much space they have, how much growing time they have and what they want to do with the produce, they should then decide what vegetables they would like to plant. Refer to our Cool Season Vegetables chart to see what’s in season this spring!
After deciding what vegetables you would like to plant, it’s time to plan out your garden beds. Creating a garden map is a great classroom activity to get your students ready for the growing season. Your students will also be able to practice basic math and mapping skills by drawing their raised beds and measuring out the spacing between each vegetable plant. This activity can be accomplished by dividing students into small groups, or allowing each student to plan their own garden bed.
What are some plant needs that we should consider when planning our garden?
Space, sunlight, root depth, height, and time for plants to grow to full maturity
To make a map of our garden plan, what information do we need?
KCCG Plant Spacing Guide, KCCG Planting Calendar, an image or idea of what our schoolyard garden looks like
Spacing Out Your Vegetable Plants and Seeds
KCCG has pre-made garden grids that are 4×12, 4×8 and 3×9. You can copy these grids depending on the number of raised beds in your garden, or have the students create their own proportional beds using a ruler and graph paper. Each square should represent one cubic foot.
Have the students divide up the vegetable plants between the beds according to how much of each vegetable they would like to grow. Try to limit to four veggie types in each bed. When planning the garden, encourage students to consider the height that their vegetable plants will reach. Try planting the bed from north to south, so that taller plants are planted on the northern end and will not shade out shorter plants.
Have students refer to the Raised Bed Plant Spacing Guide to determine the appropriate distance between each seed and plant. We recommend planting in rows the width of the bed, not down the length of the bed. Have students start on one end of the bed, and, using a ruler, mark with a dot or an X where each vegetable should be planted. Remind the students to give the plants enough room to grow, but not to waste growing space in the garden by planting things too far apart.
What would be the outcome if we scattered seeds randomly in the garden? Why bother planning out the garden?
Scattering seeds randomly would result in a mixture of seedlings growing throughout the garden. Vegetable plants would grow too close together and shade each other out. It would be more difficult to distinguish the vegetable varieties, and the plants would not be successful.
Why is it important to plan the garden?
We plan our schoolyard garden so that we know how far each plant should be spaced out, so that we know what is growing where, if we need to re-seed or thin seedlings. Planning the garden helps us distinguish between the vegetable varieties and makes it easier for us to determine what is a weed. By planning the garden we also are able to determine how much food we will end up with. Plus it makes for a neat and tidy garden!