Bringing Urban Gardens to School (B.U.G.S)

Thank you for taking our course "B.U.Gs (Bringing Urban Gardens) in the Classroom." This is a self-paced course geared toward individuals who are interested in gardening, teachers who want to integrate gardening into their curriculum, and people with little to no gardening experience. 

At the beginning of each lesson there will be an introductory video with common questions and examples of how to successfully grow a garden. The following modules will contain further explanations of topics such as "building your garden" and "co-weather crops."

The main objectives of this course is to:

1. Provide students who take this course with a general understanding of gardening

2. Learn and use experiential teaching tools to incorporate into the classroom

3. Reduce fears about gardening with your students

Lessons will be taught in 5 sections:

At the end of the course, there will be an evaluation. Please let us know how we did and what you would like to see so we can improve this course. 

Getting Started

Getting Started Video

Getting Started

In this video, Katrina will review the resources District 6 (D6) offers teachers (employed at D6) who are interested in gardening and what considerations to make before starting a garden. 

Basic Gardening

Garden Success Video

Garden Success

Katrina provides an overview of what will make your garden successful, including types of soil, sunlight, water sources, and weather considerations.

In the next sections, you will review the basics of gardening, including: sunlight, water, soil, disease in plants, what to plant, and how to sustain your garden. 

The Necessities

Gardens need four basic ingredients to survive; soil (rich with nutrients), sunlight, air, and water.  Three elements, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, are essential to plant growth and are supplied by air and water. The other essential elements are referred to as plant nutrients, and are provided by the soil, or are added as fertilizers and compost, and enter plants almost exclusively through the roots.

Click Here to Learn About Soil

Good soil is an essential part of productive plant growth.  Low humidity, fluctuating temperatures, a short growing season, poor soil characteristics, watering restrictions (in some cases), wildlife, wildfire, and drying winds make gardening in the mountains a challenge.  Soil supports plant growth by providing:

  1. Anchorage: root systems extend outward and/or downward through soil, thereby stabilizing plants.

  2. Oxygen: the spaces among soil particles contain air that provides oxygen, which living cells (including root cells) use to break down sugars and release the energy needed to live and grow.

  3. Water: the spaces among soil particles also contain water, which moves upward through plants. This water cools plants as it evaporates off the leaves and other tissues; carries essential nutrients into plants; helps maintain cell size so that plants don’t wilt; and serves as a raw material for photosynthesis, the process by which plants capture light energy and store it in sugars for later use.

  4. Temperature modification: soil insulates roots from drastic fluctuations in temperature. This is especially important during excessively hot or cold times of year.

  5. Nutrients: soil supplies nutrients, and also holds the nutrients that we add in the form of fertilizer.  Plant nutrients are divided into two groups. Those required by plants in large amounts are called macronutrients; these are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulfur. Plant micronutrients, needed in tiny amounts include iron, chlorine, zinc, molybdenum, boron, manganese, copper, sodium and cobalt. Macronutrients and micronutrients are all critical to normal plant growth and development; they are simply needed in different amounts.

In Colorado:

There are two major types of soil found in the Rocky Mountains, granite and clay soils. Light-colored decomposed granite soils, are low in organic matter, dry out quickly, and do not absorb heat well. They are usually high in most nutrients except for nitrogen. Clay soils (pictured above) are also high in nutrients, but generally have poor drainage.

Soil preparation is often the key to growing healthy plants in the mountains, particularly for non-native plants. Native plants are often adapted to leaner soils (lower in organic matter), and may ‘flop’ or have a shorter life span in well-amended soils (2).

How do I get all of the necessary nutrients into my soil?

It depends.  If you are a more advanced gardener, or have a lot of time and resources to dedicate to your garden, you can opt to have the soil tested to determine which nutrients are already present in the soil and fertilize based on the results of those tests.

If you are anxious to get started and aren’t as concerned with the highest yield, you can jump right in with applying a fertilizer.  Fertilizers are labeled as slow-release or soluble. Slow-release fertilizers provide nutrients over a period of time, as they break down or decompose. Soluble fertilizers are fast-release, and many are dissolved into water and then irrigated onto crops.  

For a beginning gardener, or if you are working with small spaces, filling raised garden beds or planters is a good way to go.  There are a lot of good pre-fertilized soil options available for purchase at your local garden center.  Whichever way you choose to go, be sure to follow the directions on the package so you don’t over or under fertilize!

Learn More About Sunlight

All plants need sunlight, but the amount of sunlight varies from plant to plant and ranges from full sun to full shade.  

Full Sun is 6-8 hours of sunlight per day

Part Sun is 4-6 hours of sunlight per day

Part Shade is 2-4 hours of sunlight per day

Full Shade is no more than 2 hours of sunlight per day

When determining your garden location and what you want to plant, it is important to consider the sunlight requirements of your plants and the amount of sunlight your garden will get each day.  It doesn’t matter how well you fertilize and water if the sunlight needs of your plants aren’t met.  If you aren’t sure how much sunlight your desired garden location gets, you can purchase a light meter from your local garden center.

The successful mountain gardener learns to exploit or create microclimates. For example, gardens placed in full sun (southern exposures) will have a longer, warmer growing season than other exposures. These warm or hot microclimates are the places to experiment with plants that need more heat during the growing season to come into flower before frost. If the site is protected in the winter, this is also a place to experiment with less hardy plants (2).

Learn More About Water

Plants need water to survive, but too much water or too little water can spell disaster for your garden.  Most people are familiar with what happens when your plants don’t get enough water, they wilt, dry out, and eventually, without proper attention and care, can die.  What you may be unfamiliar with is what happens when your plant gets too much water.  When plants are overwatered, the roots don’t have an opportunity to breathe.  This can lead to plants “stalling out” (essentially, they are alive but stop growing until the moisture returns to optimal levels).  Another danger of overwatering is root diseases (which we’ll get into later in the module that discusses diseases in plants), which can lead to plant death.

There are three common methods for watering garden: hand watering, aerial or overhead watering, and drip-irrigation. When thinking about how you want to water your garden, consider your time, space, and monetary resources.  Choose the option that works best for you, and don’t be afraid to mix and match!

  1. Hand Watering: This is what you are likely most familiar with.  This involves using a watering can or hose and watering the plants manually.
    • Pros: Individual attention to each plant. You can provide each plant with the amount of water it needs, even if two plants with different needs are planted next to each other.  Hand watering also allows you to minimize the amount of standing water left on the leaves, and therefore reducing the risk of your plant developing a disease such as a fungal growth.  This method is also very cost-effective, as the only supplies needed are a garden hose or watering can.
    • Cons: Hand water is time consuming.  Plants need to be attended to almost daily if you go with this method.
  2. Aerial or Overhead Watering: As the name suggests, this involves plants being watered from above.  The most common form of aerial watering is a sprinkler system.  A sprinkler system can be very basic, such as a sprinkler head attached to the end of a garden hose; can be more complex (i.e. expensive) by having an in-ground system that is set up on a timer; or anything in-between.
    • Pros: Cools plants in hot environments; simple setup and coverage over a larger area.  This method is also very cost-effective, as it requires a simple attachment to a garden hose, which can then be moved around as needed.  Sprinklers can also be set up on a timer, which is a great option if you will be away from the garden for an extended period.
    • Cons: While this is great for covering a large area of plants with similar needs (such as a grass-covered lawn), a sprinkler system will deliver the same amount of water to all of your plants, meaning that some plants may get too much or not enough water.  On hot or windy days, up to 50% of the water may be lost to evaporation and not even reach the plants.  Overhead irrigation also increases the amount of standing water that is left on plants and ups the chances of developing plant diseases.
  3. Drip Irrigation: This involves a hose with small perforations that deliver water directly to the base of the plant.  The system is usually set-up by snaking small-diameter plastic tubing through the garden.  The tubing is connected to a water spigot, and can also be connected to a timer.
    • Pros: If you are water-wise, drip irrigation is an excellent option as it saves the most water by delivering it directly to where it is needed – to the roots!  Drip irrigation also reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation and eliminates having standing water on the leaves.  You can also have your drip-irrigation system set up on an automatic timer, eliminating the amount of manual work, and ensuring that your plants are watered when you are away for extended periods of time.
    • Cons: The biggest downside to drip irrigation is the cost.  It can end up being quite costly and time-consuming to install a drip-irrigation system.  You can save money by doing it yourself if are mildly handy.  Drip irrigation is also not a good option for watering large spaces like a lawn.

When to Water: There are key times when you should water your garden.

  1. Right after planting or transplanting.  This is called “watering-in”.  Watering in helps to settle the soil around the roots, allowing for adequate amounts of air and water.

  2. As needed (usually daily, depending on the weather).  Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule for how often a plant needs to be watered, as this is highly dependent on soil and weather conditions.  If your soil tends to hold more water, you may not need to water as much or as often as if your soil doesn’t hold water well.  You may also need to water more frequently if you live in a hotter, drier climate than if you have had cool rainy weather.  A good rule of thumb is that the soil should be moist all the way down to the base of the roots.  Often, you will find that the water only penetrates to an inch or two below the surface of the soil.  To make sure that there is enough water for the roots, you can dig a small hole in the soil next to the pant (make sure you don’t disturb the roots) and see how far down the water has penetrated.  When you start to see pooling on the surface, either your soil is too wet, or there is not enough air in the soil to allow the water to penetrate all the way down.

Learn More About Air

Air is a crucial component of a healthy garden!  Air is important both above and below the surface of the soil.  Above the surface, plants play an important part in converting carbon to oxygen.  And just as heavily polluted air is harmful to humans, it is also harmful to plants.  Below the surface of the soil, the aerobic microorganisms (bacteria and fungi), worms, and roots also rely on air to survive.  Remember that healthy soil should contain about 25% air.

Disease in Plants

Just like all living things, your plants are also susceptible to diseases.  And just like in all other living things, there are many different types of diseases that may affect your plants.  The key to protecting your plants is to pay close attention to them and look for the common signs and symptoms.  This lesson will provide a broad overview of diseases in plants and basic care and prevention, but you’ll need to find other resources to help identify a potential problem with your plant.

While diseases in plants are caused by a variety of organisms including fungi, bacterium, viruses and insects, about 85% of plant diseases are fungal.  Noting the physical symptoms of plant disease is the first way to determine the cause.

For more in-depth information on plant diseases, there are a variety of resources in print and online.  CSU Extension has information specific to Colorado.

Fungal Diseases:

 If you notice the following symptoms in your plants you are likely dealing with a fungal disease.  Some examples of what it might look like if your plant has a fungal disease

The conditions that favor most fungal diseases include crowded planting with poor air circulation.  When planting, be sure to follow the instructions regarding the suggested distance between plants.  Below is a nice visual for how your plants should be spaced if you have 1 square foot of space to work with.

Please consider the following recommendations from CSU Extension on non-chemical disease control and prevention:.

  • Always choose plants that are adapted to Colorado growing conditions.

  • Avoid bringing diseases into the garden or moving them around within your garden.

  • Eliminate the disease-causing organism after it has become established on a plant.

  • Remove plant debris or infected plant parts after each growing season.

  • Eradicating weeds can break the life cycle of a pathogen and control it.

  • Sterile potting mixes are available at many garden centers. However, it may be desirable to sanitize small quantities of soil on your own.

  • Create an environment unfavorable to pathogens.

    • Don’t work in the garden when plants and soil are wet. Spores and cells of disease-causing organisms can spread from one plant to another and initiate new disease. Wet soils are easily compacted, which can decrease the amount of oxygen in the soil.

    • Make sure plants are spaced properly. Air movement decreases when plants are grown too close together. This allows moisture to remain on leaves for longer periods of time. Wider spacing in beds and landscape plantings promotes rapid drying after wet periods and stops development of foliage, flower and fruit pathogens.

    • Avoid excessive soil moisture. Overwatering enhances seed decay, damping-off and root rot diseases. Try not to plant in areas that have poor drainage or where water stands for several days following rains.

    • Fertilize plants properly based on soil nutrient analyses using either organic or conventional (inorganic) fertilizers.

If you do end up with a fungal infection in your garden, be sure to remove all areas of the plant that are infected.  Do not compost infected plant material, as the compost temperature is not high enough to kill the fungus.  You should also prune (trim) plants that are overcrowded to increase air circulation and reduce the humid conditions that allow the fungi to flourish.  If you are unable to reduce, eliminate, or control the fungus through these measures, you may want to consider applying a fungicide.

Root Rot: A common and easily preventable fungal disease found in both house-plants and in outdoor garden beds is root rot. Root rot most often occurs with over watering, either because the roots die due to a lack of oxygen and then start to decay, or because there is already a fungus in the soil that is given an opportunity to flourish because of overwatering.  In either case, root rot causes plants to die if not detected and treated early.

If your plant is suffering from root rot, it may appear wilted and have yellowing leaves for no apparent reason.  To be sure, you’ll need to examine the roots of the plant.  Healthy roots are typically pale in color and are firm and pliable to the touch.  If your plant has root rot, the roots may appear black, will feel mushy, and may fall off when touched.

Fortunately, with proper and careful technique, root rot can be treated if it is diagnosed in time.  Complete the following steps to treat root rot:

  1. Carefully remove the plant and root system from the soil.

  2. Wash the roots under running water and remove as much of the soil as possible.  

  3. Using clean, sharp shears, slowly and carefully remove all of the affected roots.  Depending on the extent of the root rot, you may have to remove a large amount of the root system.  

  4. If you do have to remove a large amount of the root system, you will also want to trim away about ½ of the leaves with clean shears (sterilize the shears using rubbing alcohol).  Because the root will not have as much plant to support, trimming the leaves will give the plant the best opportunity to survive and regrow healthy roots.

  5. Remove the affected soil from the pot and clean and sterilize the pot.

  6. Replant in clean soil.  Water so only the top layer of soil is damp, and avoid fertilization until the plant has regrown its roots and has reestablished itself.

Similar to other fungal diseases, root rot can be prevented by properly planting and caring for your garden.  Ensure that plants are in a location that receives enough light, only water as needed, maintain proper nutrient balance and pH in the soil, use soil with good drainage, and don’t overcrowd your plants.

What to Plant?

Deciding What to Plant: Perennials vs. Annuals vs. Biennials

You may have seen the terms perennial, annual, and biennial when shopping for plants at your local garden center.  These terms generally refer to the length of time a plant lives before needing to be replanted.  How familiar are you with what each of these terms mean and which plants fall into each category?  This lesson will give you the basic information you need to determine which plants are the best fit for your garden.



This is a term used to describe plants that have a seed-to-seed life cycle that spans or continues over the course of several years.  The seed-to-seed life cycle refers to the amount of time it takes for a plant to start from a seed and mature into a seed-producing plant that is able to reproduce.  For perennials, the seed-to-seed life cycle may be short (a few generation of plants can occur over the course of a growing season for some weeds, such as dandelions) or very long (as is the case with trees).  Either way, whether a plant produces 3 generations in a growing season or takes 5 years to fully mature, as long as the plant lives more than 2 years it is technically considered a perennial.  

Perennials fall into two broad categories: herbaceous perennials and woody plants.  Woody plants are things like trees, bushes, shrubs, etc.  Herbaceous perennials are non-woody plants that “die” each year in the fall and then re-sprout in the spring.  Some common flowers that are perennials are iris, lavender, and roses.

If you are more interested in an edible garden, consider planting asparagus, rhubarb, or kale – all of these tasty plants will keep coming back year-after-year (with proper care of course).  Some herbs, such as mint, thyme, and rosemary, are also perennials.

Learn About Annuals


As the name suggests, annuals have a 1 year seed-to-seed life cycle and need to be replanted every year at the start of the growing season.  It is important to note that in colder climates areas with a longer growing season, some plants that may be considered a perennial will be treated as an annual (they are pulled out and replanted every year).  For example, tomatoes are a common perennial native to the tropics.  In Colorado, tomatoes are treated as annuals because their roots cannot survive the freezing winter temperatures.  Examples of common annuals include dahlias, marigolds, and sunflowers.  Some common edible annuals are spinach, peas, and squash.

Annual plants are useful in many ways.

  • Beginners can experiment with edible landscaping by adding annuals to an existing landscape. 

  • Edible annual plants are a great way to add lushness to a bare landscape without spending a lot of money.

  • Gaps in your established edible landscaping due to the death of a perennial plant or seeds that fail to sprout can be fixed easily by placing a few annual plants to fill in the holes. 

  • Shade annuals can brighten up a dark spot in your yard just as well as their perennial cousins do.

  • Planting annual edibles is an easy way to get young children interested in gardening, as most annual plants come up easily from seed and grow quickly.

An edible annual container garden is a lot of fun for apartment dwellers or those with small gardens, and can be useful in cases of poor soil and/or very short growing seasons.

Learn About Biennials


Biennials are plants that have a two-year seed-to-seed life cycle.  After the plant reaches maturity in the second year, it dies and needs to be replanted.   In the first year of their life they grow their stems, roots, and leaves.  During the winter months between growing seasons, the plant becomes dormant.  These plants will not flower until the second year of their life, so if you plant them at the beginning of one growing season, they would not flower until the following year.  Examples of some common biennials are forget-me-nots and hollyhock.  Some edible biennials are leeks, cabbage, and fennel.

As with annuals and perennials, a plants status as a biennial can vary, depending on the climate and the use.  Spinach, which is considered a biennial, is typically only used for its leaves.  Since the plant will remain dormant over the winter, and then bolt to produce its buds the following year, the majority of gardeners treat spinach as an annual, removing the roots and replanting annually.

Sustaining you Garden

Seed saving is the practice of saving reproductive plant materials (such as seeds and tubers) from year to year, rather than purchasing new seeds annually from commercial seed suppliers.

Seed saving in and of itself is not extremely difficult, but depending on the plant, the time it takes to extract a seed from the plant and the number of steps involved may vary.  Some plants, such as peppers and squash, seed saving is as simple as removing the seeds from the plant, cleaning them off, and letting them dry.  Other plants, such as melons, require you to place the seeds in a glass of water to separate the good seeds from the bad seed (the good one's sink to the bottom) before drying them out.  

Determining which seeds to save: This is all up to you!  If you have a flower that has grown better than others of the same variety, or prefer one color over another, simply harvest, dry, and store the seeds from the best looking crops in your garden!  Over time, you can continue to select the "best" seeds to save, resulting in a garden that has the specific traits that you prefer.  If you are doing this in the classroom, seed saving is a great way to teach children about genetics and artificial vs. natural selection. 

Storage: Once you have removed the seed from the plant, allow the seeds to dry at room temperature.  When the seeds are dry, gently clean off any residue with your fingers and place them in a labeled envelope.  Store the seeds in a cool dry place.

Planting: The likelihood that the seed will germinate will slowly deteriorate over time, depending on the plant and storage conditions, so it is recommended to replant the seeds the following year.  The next lesson will discuss the pros and cons of indoor vs. outdoor gardening.

Soil Interaction

There are 3 main types of soil you will find in the store: garden, topsoil, and potting soil. Use the drag and drop activity to help you identify which soil will be best for your plants.

Directions: Drag and drop the images (top soil, potting soil/mix, garden soil) to the most appropriate description in the space provided.

Indoor Gardening

Indoor Gardening Video

Indoor Gardening

In this short video, Katrina will explain how to begin gardening indoors using seedlings, seed starters, and how to grow using sunlight and grow lights. 

These next sections will discuss how to indoor garden, including the pros and cons of seeds versus seed starters, how to transfer your plants, and other considerations for maintaining an indoor garden. 

Starter Plants vs Seeds

Pros of Buying Starter Plants

Starter Plants: Starter plants are baby vegetable plants, usually sold in pots or packs of 4 or 6.

  • Time: Buying already established plants from a nursery saves you from several weeks of taking care of seedlings.  You can have your garden plants in one day.

  • Space: There is no worrying about where to keep all the plants while they grow.  When buying from a nursery they are ready to put into the ground.

  • No Equipment Necessary: Plants bought from a nursery are ready to go straight into the ground.  You don’t need containers or grow lights for nursery transplants.

  • No Loss: There isn’t as much worrying about loss when you buy already established plants.  They can always dies once in the garden, but you don’t take the chance of losing seedlings in the growing process like when growing your own.

  • Timing: When the season is right you buy the plants you want.  You don’t have to figure out the exact time to start planting.

Cons of Buying Starter Plants

  • Cost: Plants are much more expensive to buy than raising your own from seed.
  • Variety: There isn’t as much variety because you are stuck with very limited options when buying from a nursery.

  • Hybrids: Almost all the plants you will find at the nursery are hybrids, which means that you won’t be able to save seeds for next year.  Also, you trade flavor and nutrients for hardiness and appearance.  If you can find heirloom plants buy those instead.

  • Dependence: If you rely on a greenhouse to raise your garden plants then you will always depend on them for your food.  Learning to raise plants from seed takes time and experience.

Veggies to Transplant or Start in Trays

  • Celery

  • Eggplant

  • Collards

  • Kale

  • Broccoli

  • Kohlrabi

  • Leeks

  • Onion

  • Peppers

  • Scallions

  • Tomato

Pros of Buying Seeds


  • Variety: With seeds there are dozens upon dozens of different varieties to pick from.

  • Cost: Seeds are much cheaper than plants.  You can buy a pack of seeds for less than $2 and have over 100 seeds in the pack, as opposed to paying about $.50 per plant from the nursery.

  • Saving Seeds: If you buy heirloom seeds your produce will be tastier and you’ll only have to invest in seeds one time if you learn to save them properly.

  • Seed Swapping: You can swap varieties with a friend or neighbor.

  • Less Dependence: Once you learn to raise your own plants from seed, you’ll no longer depend upon somebody else to start your garden for you.

Cons of Buying Seeds


  • Time: Raising plants from seed takes several weeks of daily care before it’s time to transplant to the garden.

  • Space: When planting your entire garden from seedlings you started yourself, you must have somewhere to put all of those plants while they are germinating and growing.  This can take up a lot of room, depending on the size of your garden.

  • Equipment/Tools: You will need containers to plant in, seed starting mix, a spray bottle to water the growing plants, trays to keep the containers in, and grow lights if you don’t have a south facing window, cold frame or greenhouse.

  • Loss: There is a chance of losing plants because it is a tender process.  Too much water, too little light, etc. can kill a fragile seedling in a single day.

  • Timing: Planting from seed requires that you know the right time to get your seedlings started.  Seeds need to be started several weeks either before the first frost, before the last frost, or after the last frost, depending on the variety.

Veggies to Direct Seed

  • Beans

  • Beets

  • Carrots

  • Melons

  • Peas

  • Radish

  • Spinach

  • Squashes

  • Turnips

  • Zucchini

 Tips for Transplanting

  1. Harden Off Your Seedlings: The seedlings need to become acclimated to the outside elements.  You can do this by exposing them to their outdoor environment slowly by lengthening the hours until they are toughened up some.

  2. Perfect Weather: Drizzly and overcast are the best conditions.  If these conditions aren’t in the forecast then plant them early in the morning to limit the amount of sun.

  3. Get ‘Em Ready: Give the plants some energy, with some liquid fertilizer, a couple of days before transplanting.  This will reduce shock to their tiny roots while transplanting.  Also, give them water several hours before planting them in their permanent home.

  4. Timing: The plants should have a couple of sets of “true” leaves before transplanting.  They should be full and healthy looking but not to the point of getting lanky as they outgrow their starter containers.  In addition, larger seedlings have a harder time recovering from root disturbance.

  5. Dig Holes First: Dig their new holes before you pull them from their containers.  This will allow for minimal transplant shock because the roots aren’t over exposed to elements like the sun or wind.

  6. Handle Carefully: When removing the plants from their containers be gentle.  Try to keep as much of the original soil around the roots as you possibly can.

How Deep Should Vegetable Seedlings Be Planted?

  • Crops such as beets, lettuce, artichokes, and strawberries like their roots to sit right below the soil's surface -- just up to the crown (the place where they begin to grow ).

  • Watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini, and cucumbers should be planted deep enough so that the soil comes up to the base of their first leaves.

  • While vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant like to be planted quite deep; the stem and the entire first set of leaves should be buried under the soil.


Indoor Plants

For additional information on garden planting, visit the following website:




Planting Depth

Sowing Date

Days to Germination

Soil Temp °F

Days to Maturity




















































Planting Depth

Indoor Date

Outdoor Date

Soil Temp °F

Days to Maturity



Growth Type







Rich, moist















4-5 before






























Less Acid






2-3 before







Sample Salad Dressing Recipe


Lime-Cilantro Dressing

  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  • 2 limes juiced

  • 1 TB white wine vinegar

  • 1 TB honey

  • 2 garlic cloves chopped

  • 1 tsp chopped shallots

  • 1/8 tsp salt

Creamy Herb Dressing

  • 1/2 cup sour cream yogurt may be substituted, but the consistency of the dressing may change

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herb leaves such as: basil, parsley, dill, marjoram, or oregano

  • 1 TB white wine vinegar

  • 1 lemon juiced

  • 1 garlic clove chopped

  • 1/2 green onion mainly the white part and some green, about 2-3 tablespoons Note: The green onions add a tangy bite. They may be left out of the recipe for a mild dressing.

Herbed Honey Mustard Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herb leaves such as: parsley, basil, dill, thyme or combination of herbs

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herb leaves such as: parsley, basil, dill, thyme (or combination of herbs)

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

  • 1 TB honey

  • 1 TB dijon mustard

  • 1 tsp shallots chopped


Lime-Cilantro Dressing

  1. Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the ingredients for 1 minute. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

This dressing is also a great marinade for chicken or kebabs.

Creamy Herb Dressing

  1. Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the ingredients for 1 minute until the dressing is creamy and the herbs are finely chopped. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

This dressing also makes a delicious a vegetable dip or topping for 20-Minute Fresh Salmon Burgers.

Herbed Honey Mustard Dressing

  1. Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 1 minute until the herbs are finely chopped. Store the dressing in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


For more in-depth information on indoor gardening, including space and lights, there are a variety of resources online at:

Considerations for Indoor Gardening

Choose the Right Container Type

Terracotta: Attractive and affordable, terracotta clay pots have been used for generations. This traditional choice can be heavy and costly in large sizes, and they will break if dropped or exposed to freezing temperatures. Clay also dries out more quickly than some other materials, but it’s still a favorite of many gardeners!

Glazed Ceramic: Durable ceramic containers offer a range of colors for added style in the garden. They are fairly winter-hardy, but can be costly and heavy to move.

Plastic: Plastic containers are affordable, durable, and lightweight. You may need to shop around the find a style that suits your design taste.

Wooden: Natural in appearance, wooden containers and half barrels make great containers. They will last several seasons. As they age, though, it becomes more difficult to move them.

Concrete: Of all the choices, concrete pots are the most durable — and the heaviest, so plan to place them in a permanent spot. Large sizes can be costly.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardening is using vertical space to grow vegetables (or herbs, or flowers, even root crops), often using containers that hang on a sunny wall. Vertical gardening gives non-climbing plants a space on the wall.

Vertical gardens take up less space, are easier to harvest, and easier to maintain. There are limitations to vertical gardening, including:

  • Need for sunny wall space.

  • They can be difficult to maintain if they are built too high. Don’t make them taller than you can reach.

  • The support system must be strong enough to handle the weight of everything.

  • The supporting wall must be able to withstand a lot of moisture. You can use polyethylene cloth to create a vapor barrier along the back of your garden if this might be a concern.

Vertical gardening is one of the most forgiving and flexible gardening systems. If you can already get a harvest from container gardens, vertical gardens should be no problem. For several examples of vertical gardening refer to this website.

If you have a small indoor space for gardening, here’s a link that provides some project ideas.

Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a water based, nutrient rich solution. Hydroponics does not use soil, instead the root system is supported using an inert medium such as perlite, rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss, or vermiculite.  Hydroponics allows the plants roots to come in direct contact with the nutrient solution, while also having access to oxygen, which is essential for proper growth


Advantages to Hydroponics

  • Greatly increased rate of growth in your plants. With the proper setup, your plants will mature up to 25% faster and produce up to 30% more than the same plants grown in soil.

  • Your plants will grow bigger and faster because they will not have to work as hard to obtain nutrients. Even a small root system will provide the plant exactly what it needs, so the plant will focus more on growing upstairs instead of expanding the root system downstairs. All of this is possible through careful control of your nutrient solution and pH levels.

  • A hydroponic system will also use less water than soil based plants because the system is enclosed, which results in less evaporation. Hydroponics is better for the environment because it reduces waste and pollution from soil runoff.

Disadvantages of Hydroponics

  • A hydroponics system of any size will cost more than its soil counterpart.

  • A large scale hydroponics system can take a lot of time to setup if you aren’t the most experienced grower. Plus, managing your hydroponics system will take a lot of time as well. You will have to monitor and balance your pH and nutrient levels on a daily basis.

  • The greatest risk with a hydroponics system is that something like a pump failure can kill off your plants within hours depending on the size of your system. They can die quickly because the growing medium can’t store water like soil can, so the plants are dependent on a fresh supply of water.

Types of Hydroponic Systems

There are many different types of hydroponics systems available. Some of the best hydroponic systems on the market combine different types of hydroponics into one hybrid hydroponic system. Hydroponics is unique in that there are multiple techniques you can use to get the nutrient solution to your plants.

Deepwater Culture

Deepwater Culture (DWC), also known as the reservoir method, is by far the easiest method for growing plants with hydroponics. In a Deepwater Culture hydroponic system, the roots are suspended in a nutrient solution. An aquarium air pump oxygenates the nutrient solution, this keeps the roots of the plants from drowning. Remember to prevent light from penetrating your system, as this can cause algae to grow. This will wreak havoc on your system.

The primary benefit to using a Deepwater Culture system is that there are no drip or spray emitters to clog. This makes DWC an excellent choice for organic hydroponics, as hydroponics systems that use organic nutrients are more prone to clogs.

Nutrient Film Technique

Nutrient Film Techinque, or NFT, is a type of hydroponic system where a continous flow of nutrient solution runs over the plants roots. This type of solution is on a slight tilt so that the nutrient solution will flow with the force of gravity.

This type of system works very well because the roots of a plant absorb more oxygen from the air than from the nutrient solution itself. Since only the tips of the roots come in contact with the nutrient solution, the plant is able to get more oxygen which fascilitates a faster rate of growth.


Aeroponics is a hydroponics method by which the roots are misted with a nutrient solution while suspended in the air. There are two primary methods to get the solution to the exposed roots. The first method involves a fine spray nozzle to mist the roots. The second method uses what’s called a pond fogger. If you decide to use a pond fogger then make sure you use a Teflon coated disc, as this will reduce the amount of maintenance required.

You may have heard of the AeroGarden, which is a commercialized aeroponics system. The AeroGarden is an excellent entry point to aeroponics. It’s a turn-key system that requires little setup. It also comes with great support and supplies to get you started.


Wicking is one of the easiest and lowest costing methods of hydroponics. The concept behind wicking is that you have a material, such as cotton, that is surrounded by a growing medium with one end of the wick material placed in the nutrient solution. The solution is then wicked to the roots of the plant.

This system can be simplified by removing the wick material all together and just using a medium that has the ability to wick nutrients to the roots. This works by suspending the bottom of your medium directly in the solution. We recommend using a medium such as perlite or vermiculite. Avoid using mediums such as Rockwool, coconut coir, or peat moss because they may absorb too much of your nutrient solution which can suffocate the plant.

Ebb & Flow

An ebb & flow hydroponics system, also known as a flood and drain system, is a great system for growing plants with hydroponics. This type of system functions by flooding the growing area with the nutrient solution at specific intervals. The nutrient solution then slowly drains back into the reservoir. The pump is hooked to a timer, so the process repeats itself at specific intervals so that your plants get the desired amount of nutrients.

An ebb & flow hydroponics system is ideal for plants that are accustomed to periods of dryness. Certain plants flourish when they go through a slight dry period because it causes the root system to grow larger in search of moisture. As the root system grows larger the plant grows faster because it can absorb more nutrients.

Drip System

A hydroponic drip system is rather simple. A drip system works by providing a slow feed of nutrient solution to the hydroponics medium. We recommend using a slow draining medium, such as Rockwool, coconut coir, or peat moss. You can also use a faster draining medium, although you will have to use a faster dripping emitter.

The downside to a system like this is that the drippers / emitter are famous for clogging. We prefer not to use drip systems, but it can be an effective method for growing if you can avoid the clogs that plague this type of system. The reason the system gets clogged is because particles from nutrients that build up in the emitter. Systems that use organic nutrients are more likely to have this kind of issue.


Hydroponic Useful Tips

  • We highly recommend changing the nutrient solution in your reservoir every two to three weeks.

  • Keep the water temperature in your reservoir between 65 and 75 degrees. You can maintain the water temperature by using a water heater or a water chiller.

  • An air pump with an air stone connected by flexible tubing can help increase circulation and keep your nutrient solution oxygenated.

  • If your plant doesn’t look healthy, either discolored or distorted, then the first thing you should check and adjust is the pH. If you determine that the pH is not the problem then flush your system with a solution like Clearex.

  • We recommend following the feeding cycle provided by the manufacturer of your nutrients.

  • Flush, clean, and sterilize your entire system after you finish a growing cycle. Drain your reservoir and remove any debris, then run your entire system for about a day with a mix of non-chlorine bleach and water. Use 1/8th of a cup of non-chlorine bleach for every gallon of water. Then drain your system and flush it thoroughly with clean water to remove any excess bleach.


How to Build a Hydroponic Garden

Visit the website below for information on how to build a hydroponic garden of your own, step by step, so you can grow a hydroponic garden at home.

Planting in Pots: Activity

Tower Gardens

Tower gardens are a great way to plant indoors (or outdoors). If you have limited space, they allow for you to grow your garden vertically. Some come with stackable planters and/or a space for composting. 

If you are a District 6 employee, you may be able to request a tower garden from the Nutrition Services Department (or assistance with applying for grant funding if tower gardens are not available). For more information, please contact the Wellness Specialist or Food Hub Manager: 

Below you will find an interactive tool that was developed by the Garden Tower Project  ( , Direct link:

If you plan to use a tower garden, this tool below is a great way to plan your space.

Outdoor Gardening

When to Plant Video


In this video, Katrina will discuss some considerations in planting, such as seasons and weather. 

In the next sections, you will read about how to build your garden, companion planting, and pest management. 

Colorado Zone Map

Here is a photo of the plant hardiness zone map discussed in the video, found at the USDA website: . This map shows gardeners what plants are more likely to thrive in their location. You can look at your county and find what zone you are in. For example, Arapahoe County is in Zone 5b. You can find Zone 5 plants and calendars here: Don't limit yourself to this one resource, there are tons out there!

Building Your Garden

Depending on your budget, age group, and intentions for the garden, there are several options for growing structures.

  1. Pre-made raised beds: This is the least labor-intensive, but also most expensive, method. Pre-made raised beds can be purchased from home improvement stores, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot, for $100-$200 per bed, depending on size and type.

  2. Build your own raised beds: While this requires some basic construction skills, it is much more economical than purchasing pre-made beds, and allows you to customize the beds to different sizes and shapes, depending on how much space you have available and how creative you want to be. Beds can be built from timber or cinder blocks, and typically cost under $100 per bed.

  3. Mounded rows: This is the cheapest method and is very practical, although less aesthetically pleasing than raised beds. Mounded rows are exactly what they sound like; long rows of mounded garden soil which crops are grown in. These can be cheaply covered with polytunnels from PVC pipe and plastic, to insulate the plants and extend the growing season. This is a great option for beginning gardens who do not have the funding to fully invest in a raised bed garden.


Consider the size of your garden site, the age (and size) of your students, and any needs for physical accommodation when deciding how large you want your raised beds to be. For example, 6’x8’ raised beds would provide much growing space, but elementary school students would barely be able to reach into the beds; 4’x6’ raised beds might be a better option for this age group.

11” is the most popular height for raised beds as it can be achieved easily by stacking two 6” boards and is also deep enough for the roots of most plants. Taller beds, around 24,” would be a better option for gardens wishing to accommodate individuals with bending or mobility challenges; at this height, most participants can sit or stand comfortably.



Depending on how large your garden is, purchasing sufficient high-quality topsoil can be expensive. Here are some tips for reducing this cost:

  • Visit your local nurseries or home improvement stores to request a discount or even donation

  • If you have access to cheap but lower-quality soil, request free compost from Nutrition Services (made in-house from CPK kitchen scraps!) to improve your soil.

  • Use Nutrition Services compost to augment your soil every year (either before or after your growing season) instead of purchasing fertilizer or other soil amendment.

Companion Planting

What is companion planting?

Like in human societies, certain plants tend to work well together and encourage each other’s growth (ally) by providing nutrients in the soil, while others prevent growth (enemy). Companion planting can also be used for pest control, pollination, shade for sensitive plants, and maximization of space.


Below are some common garden vegetables and their allies and enemies.

  • Asparagus

    • Allies: basil, parsley, tomatoes

    • Enemies: none

  • Beans (bush)

    • Allies: beets, cabbage, carrots, catnip, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, marigolds, potatoes, savory, strawberries

    • Enemies: fennel, garlic, leeks, onions, shallots

  • Beans (pole)

    • Allies: corn, marigolds, potatoes, radishes

    • Enemies: beets, garlic, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, shallots

  • Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

    • Allies: beets, buckwheat, calendula, carrots, chamomile, dill, marigolds, mint, nasturtium, onions, rosemary, sage, thyme

    • Enemies: strawberries

  • Cabbage and Cauliflower

    • Allies: broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, chard, spinach, tomatoes

    • Enemies: strawberries

  • Cantaloupe

    • Allies: corn

    • Enemies: none

  • Carrots

    • Allies: cabbage, chives, early potatoes, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, rosemary, sage

    • Enemies: none

  • Corn

    • Allies: beans, cucumbers, early potatoes, melons, peas, pumpkins, soybeans, squash

    • Enemies: none

  • Cucumbers

    • Allies: beans, cabbage, corn, early potatoes, radishes, sunflowers

    • Enemies: late potatoes

  • Eggplant

    • Allies: green beans, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes

    • Enemies:

  • Kale

    • Allies: Aromatic herbs, buckwheat, cabbage family, marigolds, nasturtiums

    • Enemies: pole beans, strawberries

  • Lettuce

    • Allies: beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, strawberries

    • Enemies: cabbage family

  • Marigold

    • Allies: plant near all garden crops to stimulate vegetable growth and deter insects

    • Enemies: none

  • Marjoram

    • Allies: plant near all garden crops to stimulate vegetable growth

    • Enemies: none

  • Onions

    • Allies: beets, cabbage family, carrots, chamomile, lettuce, parsnips

    • Enemies: beans, peas

  • Oregano

    • Allies: plant near all garden crops to deter insects

    • Enemies: none

  • Peas

    • Allies: beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, early potatoes, radishes, turnips

    • Enemies: garlic, leeks, onions, shallots

  • Peppers

    • Allies: basil, carrots, eggplant, onions, parsley, tomatoes

    • Enemies: fennel, kohlrabi

  • Potatoes

    • Allies: basil, beans, cabbage family, corn, eggplant, marigolds, peas, squash

    • Enemies: apples, cherries, cucumbers, pumpkins, raspberries, sunflowers, tomatoes, walnuts

  • Radishes

    • Allies: cucumbers, lettuce, melons, peas, nasturtiums, root crops

    • Enemies: hyssop

  • Rosemary, sage

    • Allies: plant near cabbage family and carrots to deter cabbage moths and carrot flies

    • Enemies: none

  • Spinach

    • Allies: celery, cauliflower, eggplant, strawberries

    • Enemies: none

  • Strawberries

    • Allies: borage, bush beans, lettuce, spinach

    • Enemies: cabbage family

  • Sunflowers

    • Allies: cucumbers (can climb up sunflowers)

    • Enemies: potatoes

  • Swiss Chard

    • Allies: bush beans, kohlrabi, onions

    • Enemies: pole beans

  • Tomatoes

    • Allies: asparagus, basil, cabbage family, carrots, parsley, onions, rosemary, sage

    • Enemies: fennel, kohlrabi, potatoes

Pest Management


Avoiding chemical pesticides in the school garden ensures safety for all participants (even pesticides approved for use at home need to be applied carefully to avoid harming sprayers, and children are more susceptible than adults to the effects of pesticides) and provides a valuable learning system about ecosystem interactions. Below are some techniques to help control common garden pests:

Structural Remedies for Prevention


  • Build healthy soil and block weeds: augment your soil with Nutrition Services compost, and cover your beds with wood chips (in the winter) or straw (during growing season) to block weeds from growing in your beds. Note: some plants overheat when the soil is insulated in the summer, so remove the straw around these plants if you notice them wilting despite consistent watering.

  • Remove weak and/or infected plants: even if they are not infected, weak plants can attract predators.

  • Clear out potential pest habitats: weeds and other garden debris provides breeding areas for insects

  • Rotate crops: this maintains soil health by rotating which nutrients are added to and removed from the soil each season, and also switches out the food source of pests, thus avoiding providing pests with a steady supply of their favorite food. Crop rotation should take into account the entire family, rather than a single crop; for example, rotating onions and garlic would not provide the benefits of crop rotation, while rotating onions and tomatoes would. 




Peas, beans


Spinach, beets, chard


Cabbage, collards, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, turnips, radish


Carrots, parsley, celery, parsnips


Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants


Squash, pumpkin, watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers, gourds


Lettuce, endives, Jerusalem artichokes, sunflowers


Onions, garlic, shallots, asparagus




Introducing Friendly Insects

Friendly insects

Not all insects are bad for your garden! Many insects are known for controlling or eliminating unwanted pests; this works best when you are able to identify specific pests and choose insects that prey on these particular pests. You can bring them to your garden by purchasing them from nurseries or online, or by attracting them with certain plants that they are partial to.

  • Ladybugs: ladybugs and their larvae eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects

  • Tachinid flies: tachinid fly larvae burrow into caterpillars and destroy them from the inside

  • Aphid midge: larvae paralyze aphids with their toxic saliva, then eat the aphids

  • Braconid wasps: adults lay eggs into host insects (caterpillars, moths, beetle larvae, aphids) and larvae eat their way out.

  • Damsel bugs: adults prey on aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, thrips, and other pests.

  • Ground beetles: adults and larvae prey on slug and snail eggs, cutworms, cabbage maggots, caterpillars, and other pests.

  • Lacewings: adults and larvae eat aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, scales, thrips, and whiteflies.

Homemade Remedies for Prevention


Rather than spraying harmful chemical pesticides, create your own non-toxic sprays to deter pests. Again, this works best when you are able to identify the pest and choose the correct spray components. When spraying, be sure to coat the whole plant, including the undersides of leaves, where many insects hide. Below are some common garden pests and their corresponding sprays.

  • Aphids, mites, and mealybugs: 1 tbsp canola oil + several drops dish soap (see below for guidelines on the type of dish soap to use) + 1 quart water

  • Mites and other insects: 2 tbsp cayenne pepper + several drops dish soap + 1 quart water

  • Fungal disease: 1 tsp baking soda + 1 quart water (+ several drops dish soap if desired, to help spray stick to leaves)

  • Powdery mildew: equal parts water + milk

Additional tips:

  • Choose soaps with biodegradable, natural ingredients, without perfumes, degreasers, or anti-bacterial agents, which can damage your plants.

  • Try to spray in the evening or on cool days, to avoid “cooking” the plant

  • To ensure that your spray is not damaging to your plant, spot-test it on a small portion of the plant’s leaves and wait 24 hours to see if there is any effect.

  • If you have hard water, you may want to use bottled water to prevent the minerals in water from interfering with the spray and building up soap scum on your plants. Otherwise, tap water is fine.

Other Remedies

Other remedies

  • Slugs, insects, and soft-bodied garden insects: sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the edges of garden beds and plants. Diatomaceous earth is made from fossils of diatoms, and deters many insects due to its shiny appearance. Any daring insects are destroyed by its sharp edges and ability to suck the moisture out of them. Note: this also harms beneficial insects.

  • Japanese beetle grubs: if you have a serious grub infestation, inoculating the ground with milky spores (Bacillus popilliae, a bacteria harmless to humans) will provide an effective and long-term solution; the bacteria infect grubs’ intestines and kill them. However, it can take several years to completely inoculate the area, and is ineffective when there are too few grubs to quickly spread the disease.


When to plant:

David Whiting (CSU Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist) created this chart to provide some guidance of what to plant, and when, in Greeley’s climate.

Below are some popular crops we suggest for each season:

  • Spring planting (start indoors at the end of February and transplant around spring break, or start directly in beds around spring break): beetroots, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach

  • Summer planting (start outdoors in early May, or start indoors in late April and transplant once winter crops are harvested): basil, beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes

  • Fall planting (start outdoors in late July or early August): fast-maturing cold crops, such as kale, lettuce, radishes, spinach

Cool Season Crops

Caring for cool season crops

Even though cool season crops can tolerate lower temperatures, they often need extra care and insulation, particularly with Colorado’s sporadic frosts. Below are several techniques to help your crops through colder days and nights.

  • Keep your soil well-watered: Moist soil holds heat longer than dry soil; well-watered beds are less likely to freeze than damp beds

  • Blanket your beds with mulch: Winter mulch acts as a blanket to keep soil and roots warm, and protected from the cold air. Multiple [materials] can be used for this mulch, including hay, straw, compost, and dried leave.

  • Floating row cover: Floating row cover is a lightweight fabric that transmits most available light and rain while protecting plants from wind and cold, typically to around 28 °F. It can be placed directly over plants, or suspended above them with hoops or a frame.

  • Polytunnel: Also known as a low tunnel, this structure is essentially a mini hoop house constructed with metal or PVC pipe bent in an arch over the bed, and covered with clear plastic sheeting (or a floating row cover, for less frost protection) to allow light in while blocking wind and rain, and creating a warmer and more humid microenvironment.

  • Cold frame: This structure is essentially a mini greenhouse, and can be purchased prebuilt from a home improvement store such as Lowe’s (although this can be expensive) or constructed from lumber and recycled glass windows. While these will be better at standing up to heavy snowfalls than polytunnels, they are typically smaller and more expensive (and polytunnels should be able to stand up to snow as long as they are periodically brushed off).

  • Starting seeds indoors: While this will not help cool season crops started in the summer and growing through the fall, it is a helpful technique to extend the growing season by starting it in the spring, as early as February. Cool season crops can be started indoors in February, then transplanted outdoors at the end of March or beginning of April. Note: transplanting root crops, such as carrots or potatoes, tends to be less successful and is not recommended.

Keeping your plants alive

Katrina discusses that it's okay if your plants die - this is part of the learning process. Even commercial farmers, who plant for a living, have plants that die due to weather or plant disease. 

Garden Planner: Activity

This garden planner was created by and can be found on If you would like, use the activity below to plan your garden, including size and what you'd like to plant. If you cannot view the screen below, please click the "full screen" or open using the link provided above. 

Creating a Garden Plan

Below you will find a document used by some District 6 schools to plan their garden. When you are ready to plan, feel free to use this document as a resource. 

How To Create a Garden Plan

Integrating Gardening into Curriculum


When we asked teachers what is the biggest barrier to integrating gardening into classroom curriculum, most teachers said:

  • Time and
  • Inexperience

Before you begin gardening with your class, it is important to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will your whole school be using the garden, only certain grade levels, or a student club? This will help you determine how much time will go into maintaining your garden. 
  2. What is the experience of the teachers using the garden? Inexperienced teachers may need to visit portions of this course or assist with smaller tasks (ex: weeding, watering). 
  3. How involved do the teachers want to be involved in the garden? 
  4. What resources does your district offer to support gardening? At Weld County School District 6, teachers are allowed to rent out gardening supplies, sell produce back to the cafeteria, and request materials such as seeds and compost.
  5. Does your school or district have a garden coordinator or someone who is experienced with gardening? Check with your school's Wellness or Nutrition Department
  6. How much time do the teachers want to spend in the garden? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly?
  7. Do you have a water source? How will this be used - Does facilities need to bring out the hose? Does the water need to be shut off during winter to prevent pipes from freezing? This information will help with scheduling planting, harvesting, and putting the garden to bed (i.e., cleaning up your garden before winter hits)
  8. If teachers are not out in the garden daily, is there anyone (such as facilities or the building manager) to help with gardening? Is there an automatic watering system facilities can set up? 

Once these questions are answered, develop a system or calendar for classrooms to follow. Below is a simple calendar of 3rd and 4th grade classes utilizing the garden bi-monthly. 




April 2017
































Mr. Smith’s 3rdgrade class

Mrs. Johnson’s 3rdgrade class

Ms. Kym’s 3rdgrade class

Ms. Reynold’s 3rdgrade class

Mr. Telles’ 3rdgrade class










Ms. Ronald’s 4thgrade

Mr. Winfrey’s 4thgrade

Mr. Boyd’s 4thgrade

Ms. Valentine’s 4thgrade

Mrs. Nancy’s 4thgrade class










Mr. Smith’s 3rdgrade class

Mrs. Johnson’s 3rdgrade class

Ms. Kym’s 3rdgrade class

Ms. Reynold’s 3rdgrade class

Mr. Telles’ 3rdgrade class










Ms. Ronald’s 4thgrade

Mr. Winfrey’s 4thgrade

Mr. Boyd’s 4thgrade

Ms. Valentine’s 4thgrade

Mrs. Nancy’s 4thgrade class
















in the next few modules, you will learn some examples of how to integrate gardening into science, reading and writing, and math.

Life Science

Objective: Teachers will learn how to integrate gardening into curriculum.

Activities will address the following standards below: 

  • Living things have characteristics and basic necessities; develop in predictable patterns

  • Described/sorted in physical properties

  • Offspring have characteristics similar to parents, organism has physical characteristics to help it survive

  • Depend on habitat’s nonliving parts to satisfy their needs

  • Each plant or animal has different structures or behaviors that serve different functions.

Life sciences can be explored within the garden in many different ways for teachers with little or extensive experience. If you are inexperienced, the first time you are in the garden will be a discovery period for both you and your students. You do not need to expert. Do not worry about killing your plants; even experienced gardeners and farmers have plants/crops that die due to weather, pests, or plant disease. Below are some easy methods to integrate indoor or outdoor gardening into your curriculum, and will be separated into easy, medium, and advanced methods/topics.

Preschool through 2nd grade

Preschool through 2nd grade

Before using the garden, discuss with students that all living things have physical properties, characteristics, and basic needs. For example, plants need soil, water, and sunlight. While you are out in the garden (or while using your indoor garden), have students view the plants that are growing. Have students draw the two different plants and then write their physical properties or structures. Are the plants tall, small, wide? Do the plants have many leaves or stems? What color are the leaves? Is one plant darker than the other? If the plant is producing, where is it producing? Does the produce hang low to the ground or high? Does the plant produce grow underground, slightly above ground, in a tree, or in a bush?  

Here is a handout that describes the parts of the plant. 

You can use what you find outdoors as a method for observation and discovery. For example, the baby bugs shown below are often found in garden plots that grow squash and are often confused with stink bugs. Have students observe them, draw their shape and color (physical characteristics), and write down what the bugs are doing in the garden. Are they wiggling in the dirt or eating the leaves? Are they trapping other bugs? Are they buzzing around flowers? If they are wiggling in the dirt, eating or trapping other bugs, or pollinating flowers, they are probably “garden-friendly” bugs that help the garden. If the bugs are eating the plant, they are not garden-friendly. This will help students think critically and use discovery in science. When you get back into the classroom, have a discussion with the students. If students identify these critters as stink bugs, pull up a picture of a stink bug and have them compare the structure of the bug.

img source:

Other discovery questions include:

  • Where are the bugs living?

  • Can the students find how they shelter themselves from bad weather or prey?

  • What does the bugs habitat look like and feel like? (i.e., is the soil soft or dry, does it have shelter such as holes for the bugs to hide? Are their predators? Are there other flowers, such as companion plants, to draw the bugs?)

  • Does each student’s picture look alike? Have students compare their bug pictures to bring up the topic of genetics and offspring.

  • If there are bugs in the garden and students notice eggs (picture below), this would also be a good time to discuss offspring.

img source:

By using this one teaching tool of observation of discovery, we have covered earth science (soil, pollination, and plant science) and biology. As you can see, we can use a lot of science with gardens. Please note: it is important to have a discussion with students about the difference between “garden-friendly” and “friendly” bugs. Spiders fall into the “garden-friendly” category because they are carnivores that eat other bugs, but are not seen as a friendly critter. Caterpillars, on the other hand, are NOT “garden-friendly” because they are herbivores and will destroy the garden

3rd through 5th

Third through Fifth Grade

  • The duration and timing of life cycle events such as reproduction and longevity vary across organisms and species

  • All living things share similar characteristics, but they also have differences that can be described and classified

  • Comparing fossils to each other or to living organisms reveals features of prehistoric environments and provides information about organisms today

  • There is an interaction and interdependence between and among living and nonliving components of systems

  • All organisms have structures and systems with separate functions

Other activities or methods to use to integrate science standards into the curriculum is using the garden as a way to explore the interdependence between living and nonliving systems. A garden is an ecosystem that allows different plants and organisms to thrive (or die). For example, if one garden plot that is thriving may have a variety of insects, such as worms or spiders that help the plants grow and keep out bugs that may destroy the garden. A second plot might be dying because the soil might be dry, might not get enough sunlight, or might have soil that contains too much clay (prevents water from penetrating to plant roots).

Different bugs can also be studied and connected to prehistoric environments. A pill bug, or as most students know it as, a roly-poly, are similar to the prehistoric trilobites. Trilobite fossils and pill bugs can be examined and explored to discover relationships between the two organisms.


Secondary (6-12)

Gardening can be integrated into lesson plans, however, due to the nature of secondary schools (multiple classes per subject), it would be difficult for an English teacher to use class time for gardening. If you are interested in integrating gardening in "non-related" subject (such as math, English, or history), find resources that discuss gardening, the food system, historical events, and project-based learning. For example, if you wanted to integrate gardening with world history, you could discuss the history of migrant farmers and plant similar crops. Books such as 'The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair, which describes the meat industry, can be compared to current farming and agricultural practices. Students could also design their own garden using math by calculating the area, estimating the number of crops they could plant, and predicting the yield using equations. 

Earth Science



Preschool through 2nd

Preschool through 2nd

  • Earth’s materials have properties and characteristics that affect how we use those materials

  • Events such as night, day, the movement of objects in the sky, weather, and seasons have patterns

  • The sun provides heat and light to Earth

  • Earth’s materials can be compared and classified based on their properties

  • Weather and the changing seasons impact the environment and organisms such as humans, plants, and other animals

Explore earth science with your students by discussing how different soils might affect plant life. Plant the same type of seed (ex: squash) in two separate pots (or in different plots if using an outdoor garden). Use two different soils in each pot. Make sure they receive the same amount of sunlight and same amount of water. Have students track how the plant grows. You can use a variety of tools to track growth of a plant, such as drawing pictures, measuring, counting how much the plant produces, or even how big the squash grow. If there is a difference, this would be an opportunity to teach the kids how different soils have different properties and characteristics that may help or hinder certain plants from growing.

You can dive deeper into this subject by having students compare and classify objects in the garden based on their properties. Using the same example, if the two different garden beds are being watered equally but soil in one is wet while the other is dry, have students describe why this is occurring. Is one plot getting more sun? If so, you can teach that the sun provides more heat and light to that spot. Is the soil in one plot harder than the other? If so, you can teach that some earthy materials (such as clay) make it difficult for water to get to the plants.

Once the weather starts getting colder and plants begin to die, you can use this as an opportunity to discuss with students how changes in weather impact how food and plants grow, where bugs live, and how other animals (such as birds) may migrate to.

3rd through 5th

Third through Fifth

  • Earth’s materials can be broken down and/or combined into different materials such as rocks, minerals, rock cycle, the formation of soil, and sand – some of which are usable resources for human activity

  • Earth and sun provide a diversity of renewable and nonrenewable resources

  • Earth’s surface changes constantly through a variety of processes and forces

  • Weather conditions change because of the uneven heating of Earth’s surface by the Sun’s energy. Weather changes are measured by differences in temperature, air pressure, wind and water in the atmosphere and type of precipitation

One way to integrate gardening into earth science is by modeling the water cycle. Use a bottle to place on top of one plant - this can be down outdoors or indoors. Continue to water the plant near its roots. When the bottle starts to heat, the water will begin to evaporate. Water droplets will be form on the bottle and trickle down back to the soil.

Soil erosion can also be modeled in a controlled setting. Use plastic bottles and fill with different types of soils or earthy materials, such as bark (shown below). Instructions on how to make the bottles and water catcher found here:

Have students water the plants and take notes on the color of the water that is collecting in the cups. The dirtier or darker the water, the more the soil is eroding. If you have an outdoor garden and it is windy, take the students out the next day to see if any soil was blown away or any plants topple over. After this experiential lesson, have students discuss or write how erosion can affect people, cities, or farmers.


So far we have covered a variety of topics that can be directly integrated with gardening, such as biology and life sciences. These topics are easier to directly integrate into curriculum and learning than topics such as math or social studies. It is recommended that the garden is used as a a supplemental learning experience for students when integrating with math.

PreK through 2nd grade

PreK through 2nd grade

For students who are just learning about shapes, the garden would be a great opportunity for students to observe and draw the different shapes they see in the garden. For example, the garden bed might be square or rectangular. Flower might have a circular ovary or round petals.

img source: 

There are many items within the garden they can practice counting. If you are just starting your garden, have students count the number of seeds they would like to plant in a certain bed or pot. When plants start growing, they can count the number of petals or leaves they are growing. Once the plant starts to produce or fruit, students can count and track the number of fruits or vegetables they harvest throughout the growing season. You can also use the produce as a visual for students to count. For example, you can asks students (or provide a worksheet) “Today we picked 3 squash and yesterday we picked 5 cucumbers. How many vegetables did we pick in those 2 days?”

Another way to use the garden is to create a grocery store for students. Vegetables and/fruit can be harvested, washed, and refrigerated. Have students color and cut out their own fake money. The next day, create a grocery store for students. Students can learn how to:

  • Add up the cost of food

  • Use math to spend money or write checks

  • Use math to make sure they receive the right amount of change back

After the activity, you can divide the vegetables or fruit between the class to make a healthy snack.

3rd through 5th

3rd through 5th

One method to integrate math with gardening is to teach students about measurement, such as inches, meters, and feet. Students can measure items such as the garden bed, the growth of a plant, or garden pots. Use this as an opportunity to discuss width, length, and depth. As a fun activity, students can create a collage or picture (graph) of the plants in the garden (picture shown below). Reinforce measurement by requiring students to draw their graphs to scale.

Img source:

Other calculations, such as area and volume, can be taught using garden. Have students measure certain objects, such as the garden plot or pot. They can measure the height, width, and depth. Make sure they understand different metrics (inches vs feet). After students complete the calculation, provide a concrete example to reinforce learning. For example, if you are measuring the volume of a pot, have students measure soil into a pot to see if they were right. If they were a bit off, you can use this as an opportunity to discuss approximations or rounding. Another way to make math functional in the garden is have students scale the garden on graph paper. They can then use the area to estimate how many seeds they can plant in the garden. After they calculate, have students actually plant the amount they calculated.

Other ideas for calculations include:

  • Predicting rate of growth

  • Rate of growth of a plant

  • Calculate percentage error for rate of growth prediction

  • Calculating the amount of fertilizer to use within the garden

Integrating into your Classroom


How to Plan for Garden and Curriculum Integration 

As with everything else in your garden, feel free to start small- even with just one garden-related lesson in the fall, and another in the spring. If you and your students enjoy the garden lessons, you can add more garden lessons- holding a lesson in the garden once a week and arranging with your school’s garden coordinator to water and/or weed during this time would greatly assist with garden maintenance.

Additionally, garden lessons do not necessarily require a full 50 minutes of class time in the garden- if your class is large and easily distracted, or if the weather is not cooperating, you can gather garden materials and hold the lesson in the classroom; grow an indoors classroom garden to base your lessons on; or hold half the lesson outdoors and the other half in the classroom. One of the best things about the garden is how flexible it is and how creative you can be in your use of it!


Suggested steps for planning garden lessons:

  1. Plan for garden curriculum integration at the start of the year or semester, when you are looking ahead and planning for future lessons.

  2. Examine your district’s suggested lesson plans if provided or your State Standards Grade Level Expectations, Evidence Outcomes, and Skills and Competencies (or equivalent). Identify a lesson (or more) where garden curriculum could be easily integrated- look over our lesson plan ideas in Lesson 4 for suggestions and inspiration.

  3. Develop lesson plan, using your SS GLEs, EOs, and Skills and Competencies.

    1. Make sure to consider how the time of year when you normally hold this lesson would affect your garden lesson, particularly the weather and the state of your garden. For example, if your lesson normally takes place in early spring, will any plants have germinated by this time? Or if your lesson takes place in late fall, will your garden be “resting” and no longer producing?

    2. Again, a little flexibility and creativity will allow you to hold garden lessons at any point in the year, even in the dead of winter.

      1. Even in its resting state, your winter garden provides many opportunities for hands-on learning about topics such as soil types/quality, seasons/climate, compost/decomposition, and much more.

      2. If your lesson specifically deals with growth or plant parts, with some advance planning, you and your students can grow your plants indoors in seed starter trays or pots. Make sure to read the back of your seed packet (or consult Google) to know when to start your seeds so that they will be at the appropriate growth stage for your lesson.

  4. If you have a School Garden Coordinator, contact them to let them know when your lesson is planned for. They may want to assist, or can help with scheduling if there are multiple teachers trying to use the garden for lessons.

  5. Get your students excited about the garden! If you have time in the weeks leading up to the lesson, take them out into the garden for a 10-15 minute “Vitamin D Break,” to introduce them to the garden, answer any questions, and let them explore the garden. Greater familiarity with the garden will help students adjust to learning in a new space, and will also cut down on the amount of time you will need to answer garden questions at the start of the actual lesson.


Suggested plants for school gardens:

Speedy growers: these plants germinate and produce quickly, which is especially important for young learners

  • Radishes (25 - 30 days to harvest)

  • Green onions (22 – 27 days to harvest)

  • Arugula (22 – 27 days to harvest)

  • Leaf lettuce (26-31 days to harvest)

  • (Baby) spinach (35 – 40 days to harvest)


Container-happy plants: these plants are perfect for teachers growing in their classroom or in outdoor pots

  • Planter depth: 4 – 6 inches

    • Chives, lettuce, radishes, other salad greens, basil, coriander

    • NOTE: for these relatively shallow planters, be extra careful about keeping soil well-watered, as they will dry out more quickly

  • Planter depth: 6 – 8 inches

    • Bush beans, garlic, kohlrabi, onions, Asian greens, peas, mint, thyme



One barrier to gardening within a classroom is figuring out how it fits into curriculum, or district curriculum standards. When fitting gardening into the curriculum, take a look ahead at the year. What are you already teaching? Some lessons might include:

  • Reading a book on agriculture, such as "Esperanza Rising" in Reading, Writing, and Communication
  • Discussing plant life or the parts of plants in Science
  • Discussing life science, such as insects, animals, or human biology in Science
  • Learning about volume and area in Math
  • Learning about agricultural communities in Social Studies

While this is not a comprehensive list, this shows there are plenty of opportunities to integrate gardening. The lesson you choose to integrate can be done in a variety of ways, such as:

  1. Teaching an entire lesson on science (such as plant life) and taking the class outside to harvest and identifying plant structure
  2. Using a partial lesson to reinforce learning, such as having students use math adjectives (round, oval, square) to describe plants
  3. Use worksheets to reinforce another subject, such as garden worksheets to teach counting

When integrating lessons, your plan can be as creative as you like. The important thing is to plan for your lesson and work in methods you are comfortable using.

Gardening lessons to not have to be all year long. If you only plan to work on gardening for a few weeks, keep in mind to pick plants that will be ready to harvest in that amount of time. Also, if you can only spend a few weeks outside in your garden, consider indoor gardening or partnering with other classrooms. 

Specific standards are shown below (Colorado-based, prek-5):


  • Preschool
    • Science
      • Physical Science - Standard 1: Describe how objects are similar and different (apply to plants, soil, water)
      • Life Science - Standard 2: What do living things need to survive? 
      • Earth Science - Standard 3: Use scientific tools to investigate and play with rocks, soil, sand, and water. What patterns to do you notice about the weather? How does that affect plants?
    • Math
      • Number Sense, Properties, and Operations - Standard 1: Counting (counting seeds and plants, estimating how many plants garden can produce)
      • Shape, Dimension, and Geometric Relationship - Standard 2: Describing shapes of plants, vegetables, and fruit. Discuss in the garden and use garden-based worksheets to reinforce learning. 
    • Reading, Writing, Communication
    • Social Studies
      • Economics - Standard 3: Discuss trade, buying food, where food comes from and how it gets to the grocery store


  • Kindergarten
    • Science
      • Physical Science - Standard 1: Describe how objects are similar or different. Can be applied to different types of plant vegetables (broccoli vs cauliflower)
      • Life Science - Standard 2: What do living things have in common (plants, animals, humans). How do we classify groups of organisms such as bugs in the garden, cruciferous vegetables (i.e., broccoli) that belong in the family Brassicaceae)
      • Earth Science - Standard 3: Describe how the Sun impacts the Earth, soil, plants, etc. 
    • Math
      • Number Sense, Properties, and Operations - Standard 1: Counting (counting seeds and plants, estimating how many plants garden can produce)
      • Shape, Dimension, and Geometric Relationship - Standard 4: Describing shapes of plants, vegetables, and fruit. Discuss in the garden and use garden-based worksheets to reinforce learning. 
    • Reading, Writing, Communication
      • Oral Expression and Listening - Standard 1: Build oral communication skills by having students work on garden-based lessons (such as drawing the parts of plants) and turn to their partner and teach them what they drew
      • Inferential and Evaluative Listening - Have students practice how to ask for tools or help while in the garden, describe good listening skills before providing instructions/directions for gardening activities. 
      • Reading for All Purposes - Standard 2: Interpret how the structure of written English contributes to the pronunciation and meaning of complex vocabulary. Use illustrations as instructions on how to care and maintain plants. Have students interpret pictures before going out into the garden. Teachers can also use garden-based stories to teach students about garden care (use to sound out words and evaluate comprehensive of writing). 
    • Social Studies
      • Geography - Standard 2: Describe the geography of the surrounding community. What makes it easy or difficult to garden? Describe the difference between rural, suburban, and urban communities. How does their geography differ? 
      • Economics - Standard 3: Discuss how resources are reallocated. Can discuss topics such as local agriculture (food and meat) and scarcity of food in different regions. 
    • Health
      • Physical and Personal Wellness in Health - Standard 2: Discuss how food fuels our body and how do healthy foods help our body. Use examples from plants in the garden. Discuss what fuel plants use (sun, water, soil) to produce vitamins and minerals


1st grade

  • 1st Grade
    • Science
      • Physical Science - Standard 1: Reinforce learning by discussing what liquids (water versus another liquid) and solids (plants, soil) have in common. Discuss why some plants may not survive in snow, even though it is a liquid (what are the properties of snow that make it harmful to some plants)
      • Life Science - Standard 2: Analyze how organisms grow, develop, and differentiate. Students can write about how the plants in the garden are similar and different. Discuss diversity within populations of plants or garden bugs
      • Earth Science - Describe how humans are dependent on the diversity of resources provided by Earth and Sun. Discuss how different soils may help or impede the growth of plants. Discuss how many of our resources come from plants. 
    • Math
      • Number Sense, Properties, and Operations - Standard 1: Understand the structure and properties of our number system. Have students practice counting in the garden by 2, 4, etc. Teach students the value of big numbers (such as 50) and provide visual representation (can be in seeds, plants, leaves, etc.)
      • Apply transformation to numbers, shapes, functional representations, and data: If doing a taste test, lay out all harvested produce. Have students estimate how many vegetables there are (total or of each type). Have students count after estimating. When handing out produce to taste, visually show transformations (addition or subtraction)
      • Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability - Standard 3: Use growth of plants as data to show the rate of growth. Can compare to the rate of growth of a student. 
    • Reading, Writing, Communication
    • Social Studies
      • Geography - Standard 2: After explaining and discussing the purpose of a map, have students draw a map of their garden. Make sure the maps have all key components. 
      • Explain places and regions and the connection among them: Discuss communities (agricultural or rural) and how people use resources in that local community
      • Economics - Standard 3: Discuss what types of jobs farmers do, how they get to that job, and why people may choose different jobs (why would someone want to be farmer or would not want to be a farmer)
    • Health
      • Physical and Personal Wellness in Health - Standard 2: Discuss how food fuels our body and how do healthy foods help our body. Use examples from plants in the garden. Discuss what fuel plants use (sun, water, soil) to produce vitamins and minerals

2nd grade

  • 2nd Grade
    • Science
      • Physical Science - Standard 1: Reinforce physical science by having students identify forces used when moving soil, plants growing, water moving into the soil, water moving up plant stems, etc. 
      • Life Science - Standard 2: Explain examples of how living systems interact. Describe different needs of soil, plants, and bugs within the garden. Describe how each relationship helps one another. Teach the different struct of plants and animals needed to survive (such as roots to take in water). 
      • Earth Science - Standard 3: Describe how weather patterns affect plant life. Describe how we would prepare the garden for inclement weather. 
    • Math
      • Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability - Standard 3: Use growth of plants as data to show the rate of growth. Have students measure their plants (indoor or outdoor). Compare growth rate month by month. 
    • Reading, Writing, Communication
    • Social Studies
      • Geography - Standard 2: After explaining and discussing the purpose of a map, have students draw a map of their garden. Make sure the maps have all key components. 
      • Explain places and regions and the connection among them: Discuss communities (agricultural or rural) and how people renewable and nonrenewable resources (such as food, water, gas, oil). Discuss boundaries and what they may look like (such as fences, garden beds, welcome signs, etc.). Discuss recycling, reducing, reusing, or throwing something away (can also discuss composting and integrate this with science). 
      • Economics - Standard 3: Discuss scarcity and resources used in various communities (such as agriculture and rural communities or gardening in the school community)
    • Health
      • Physical and Personal Wellness in Health - Standard 2: Discuss how food fuels our body and how do healthy foods help our body. Use examples from plants in the garden. Discuss what fuel plants use (sun, water, soil) to produce vitamins and minerals. Describe benefits of drinking water - compare to plants needing water. 

3rd grade

  • 3rd Grade
    • Science
      • Life Science - Standard 2: Study and describe the lifecycle of plants in your garden. Study and describe the lifecycle of bugs in your garden. Compare them.
      • Earth Science - Standard 3: Investigate and identify soil, rocks, and sand. Use the garden as a discovery tool. Describe how soil is formed. If comfortable, can use composting as a hands-on method to describe the breakdown of Earth's materials. 
    • Math
      • Number Sense, Properties, and Operations - Standard 1: Use garden produce to demonstrate fractions (i.e., cutting up cucumbers into slices)
      • Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability - Standard 3: Use growth of plants as data to show the rate of growth. Have students measure their plants (indoor or outdoor). Compare growth rate month by month. 
      • Shape, Dimension, and Geometric Shapes - Standard 4: Reinforce learning by using produce and garden beds to describe shapes
    • Reading, Writing, Communication
    • Social Studies
      • Geography - Standard 2: Have students describe what physical features provide challenges to regions to grow food
    • Health
      • Physical and Personal Wellness in Health - Standard 2: Describe the nutrients found in foods (use food from the garden as an example). 

4th grade

  • 4th Grade
    • Science
      • Physical Science - Standard 1: Describe how energy exists in a system. Can use plants storing energy or human storing energy as examples.  
      • Life Science - Standard 2: Analyze how various organisms grow, develop, and differentiate during their lifetimes. Discuss the classification system (can use garden plants as an example) and how species are related to one another (can use bugs that are similar 
    • Math
      • Number Sense, Properties, and Operations - Standard 1: Use garden produce to demonstrate fractions (i.e., cutting up cucumbers into slices)
      • Patterns, Functions, and Algebraic Structures - Standard 2: Use numbers and symbols to problem-solve. Problems can be garden based such as "how many seeds can we plant in this bed" or "how wide or deep does the garden bed need to be."
      • Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability - Standard 3: Use growth of plants as data to show the rate of growth. Have students measure their plants (indoor or outdoor). Compare growth rate month by month. 
      • Shape, Dimension, and Geometric Relationships - Standard 4: Use measurement to create and design projects, such as garden beds or garden pots (use materials such as the bottom of a liter of soda). 
    • Reading, Writing, Communication
    • Social Studies
      • History - Standard 1: Analyze key historical periods and patterns of change over time within and across nations and cultures. Discuss how technological advances have changed Colorado (include agricultural advancements). 
      • Geography - Standard 2:  Develop spatial understanding, perspective, and personal connections to the world. Use local food maps to describe farming regions in Colorado. Describe how the geography of Colorado regions are beneficial for agriculture. 
      • Economics - Standard 3: Understand the allocation of scarce resources in societies through the analysis of individual choice, market interaction, and public policy. Describe how different goods and services (such as food and agricultural products) are important n different times in Colorado's history.
    • Health
      • Physical and Personal Wellness in Health - Standard 2: Describe the nutrients found in foods (use food from the garden as an example). Discuss how different foods help the body in different ways.

5th grade

  • 5th Grade
    • Science
      • Physical Science - Standard 1: Mixtures of matter can be separated. Discuss the Earth's layers (ex: rocks are mixtures of minerals). Apply this to the garden. Have students explore the soil and identify different parts of soil. 
      • Life Science - Standard 2: All organisms have structures and systems with separate functions. Students can identify different parts of plants and animals that carry out the same function. Discuss adaptations of plants and animals used for survival (ex: lady bug's exoskeleton).
      • Life Science - Standard 2: Human body systems have basic structures, functions, and needs. Discuss with students how food functions in our body, such as what vitamins and minerals do, how fiber helps our colon, etc. 
    • Math
    • Reading, Writing, Communication
    • Social Studies
      • Geography - Standard 2: Use various geographic tools and sources to answer questions about the geography of the United States. Use local food maps to describe farming regions in Colorado. Describe how the geography of Colorado regions is beneficial for agriculture. Have students create their own map of the garden, complete with all labels and tools to read the map. 
      • Geography - Standard 2: Causes and consequences of movement. Discuss migrant farming. 
    • Health
      • Demonstrate the ability to engage in healthy eating behaviors. Discuss healthy eating, trying new foods, and key nutrients the body needs. Discuss key nutrients found in vegetables grown in the garden. 

Classroom Management

Classroom Management Example

Because teachers often have different barriers to overcome, such as classroom size or lack of availability of classroom aides/paraprofessionals, this section provides a general overview of what to consider before planting with your class. This video was created by the District 6 Wellness Team, and will provide examples of how to manage students while planting indoors

Classroom Management

Often teachers do not want to take their students because they are afraid that they will get too excited and distracted by the outdoors. This is all natural and can be part of the learning process. Use distractions as educational tools to facilitate learning. For example, if students notice bugs, have them observe the bugs to see what they are doing. Below are some tips on how to manage a classroom outdoors.



  1. Establish clear rules and guidelines for acceptable garden behavior with appropriate consequences. Make sure to gain student buy-in by allowing students to make their own rules and/or agree upon the rules.

  2. Give clear instructions in the classroom and after you enter the garden.

  3. Establish clear objectives before you enter the garden. Are you planning on weeding, watering, planting? Do you want students to explore the garden?

  4. If you have a large portion, break students up into manageable rotations. Allow students to work within their own workgroups. You can also establish a rewards system that will allow students to work in their own groups based on points earned throughout the week.

  5. After harvesting, allow students to make their own simple recipe. For example, grow herbs and allow students to make their own tea.

  6. Recruit volunteers to help in the garden. This could include classroom aides, parents, or university student volunteers.

Quiz and Evaluation


The course presented skills in a helpful sequence

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

The course helped me understand gardening concepts more clearly

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

The content was easy to understand and informatiive

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

The course was easy to navigate/use

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

I will apply this information I learned in the classroom

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree