a school garden during the summer amidst vacation plans is
a common challenge. You want to enjoy the break and
renew your spirits, but you don't want to see
all the hard
work from the school year transform from a beautiful
garden into a jungle of weeds. To help you, we offer a few
tips for summer maintenance.
low-maintenance plants. Focus on growing plants
that will thrive on their own without
much attention. Two characteristics to look for are drought-tolerance
and vigorous foliage that will smother or out-compete weeds. Choices
vary by region and the amount of rain or irrigation available
Check with your local Cooperative Extension Office for a list of
plants recommended for your area.
- Use mulch! A thick layer
of mulch reduces weed
growth and maintains soil moisture, and it enriches the soil as
it decays. In
vegetable and annual beds use inexpensive organic mulch such as
newspaper topped with straw. In perennial beds add
to 3-inch layer of a more durable organic mulch, such as shredded
bark or cocoa bean hulls.
- Install irrigation. Drip irrigation equipment
is available at most home improvement stores for a reasonable
price and you can set it up to run on inexpensive timers.
It might be worth your while to search for someone to donate
an automatic irrigation system.
- Many hands.... Enlist the
help of parent volunteers or service organizations such as Future
America, 4-H, scouts, and
groups. Create a schedule so that someone checks on the
on a regular basis. You can even hold a work
day one Saturday per month to knock down weeds and or other
- Host a summer camp. Many schools offer summer
school classes or kids' summer camps Get in touch with a teachers
or summer camp
counselors to see if
they are interested in taking advantage of your
outdoor classroom facilities
during the summer months in exchange for upkeep.
in the spring. Pick and use or distribute as much of
your vegetable harvest as is ready. Pick flowers and
or dry them for art activities in the fall.
Before you leave for the summer, remove all the plants and then
do one of the following:
it up. Cover your garden with a thick layer of mulch to discourage
water loss. The mulch will break down over
and provide organic matter and enrich the soil for next
- Solarize! Solarization is the process of using the sun's energy to kill
weeds and soil-dwelling pests, and it requires just a couple
simple materials that you probably already have on hand: clear
plastic and a garden hose. Visit
here for a step-by-step guide
from the University
a summer cover crop. A
cover crop, sometimes called green manure, is a short-lived
legume (e.g., beans) or grain (e.g., buckwheat) that you
plant to prevent
weeds, reduce soil erosion, and boost organic matter. They
also help maintain and/or increase the nitrogen content
of the soil.
more about cover crops here. You can also check
your state's Cooperative Extension Web site for additional
cover crop ideas for your area.