The Q&A Archives: Using Gardening to Teach Science

Question: I teach Field Studies Biology in Orlando, FL. My class is beginning a unit on gardening. Our school is located in western Seminole County. Please list several highlights that I should cover to make sure my students get a well-rounded picture of gardening. We plan to begin plants indoors, then set them out in their own garden plots here at school after the last freeze this spring. Any help would be appreciated. Scott Kinsey Orlando, FL

Answer: You should probably start talking about the soil and how critical good soil health is to growing plants. You can talk about organic matter and it's functioning to provide nutirents to plants as well as talk about the major and minor nutrients needed by almost all plants. Beyond that, you can get into site location and siting factors such as sun exposure, wind, wetness.... and how to select the right plants for the right places. Landscaping considerations such as the use of the plant (edible, screen, hedge...), traffic flow patterns, eventual size of the plant should be considered when landscaping. For annual gardens, other than soil conditioning, you can talk about cropping schedules, companion planting, pest control and differenet wateringand fertilizing techniques. Obviously you can go on and on, but hopefully this gives you a few ideas for your class.

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