Halton Environmental Network

School Year Garden Plan (Southern Ontario)


Providing Climate Change Education and Resources in the Community of Halton since 2004
Learn More About Our Programs

HEN School Workshops

Are you an educator or school administrator in the Halton Region? HEN provides climate change and environmental workshops for Grades K-12, including hands-on activities and valuable resources for teachers and children!

January - March


Garden Tasks

  • Garden planning (garden mapping with kids)
  • Ordering seeds
  • Procuring garden supplies, equipment, materials
  • Make a watering and garden maintenance plan with other teachers, parents… whoever will be working with the garden during the season
  • Start connecting with garden volunteers from the community (families, teachers, day cares, etc.) for summer maintenance
  • Work out summer watering logistics
    • How will water be accessed?
    • Where will tools (watering cans, hoses, etc.) be stored and how can they be accessed?
    • How will you schedule summer maintenance?

Garden Lessons

  • Garden planning (garden mapping with kids)
    • Students measure and map the garden
    • Students help plan what they would like to grow in the garden
    • Older students can help plan the layout of the garden, considering things like companion plants, space needed for different plants, etc.
  • Plant parts we eat
  • Plant life cycles
  • Seed viability testing/germination tests (to test health of seeds)
  • Compost/vermicompost
  • Seasonal changes/cycles in the garden

April


Garden Tasks

  • starting seeds with classes
    • Unless Easter is in late April, it’s a good idea to wait until after the 4-day weekend to start seedlings (4 days is a long time without watering for tiny plants!)
  • direct seeding in garden (depending on weather)
    • Some things can be directly seeded outside as soon as the ground has thawed, for example peas, spinach, radish…
  • Check out the spreadsheet on this website for and estimate of planting dates (both indoor and outdoor): https://www.yougrowgirl.com/the-lazy-gardeners-seed-starting-chart/
    • It allows you to enter your town/region’s average last frost date, and it will calculate when to start seedlings indoors, when to direct seed outdoors,  and when to plant seedlings outdoors 

Garden Lessons

  • Seed starting indoors 
    • Students can predict what the plants will look like as they grow and when they are ready to harvest
    • Students can research the plants they are planting (history, uses, information about the variety), using seed catalogues, garden books and online resources.
  • Direct seeding outdoors
  • Plant life cycles
  • Seasonal changes/cycles in the garden

May - June


Garden Tasks

  • Pay attention to weather forecasts in your area to ensure weather (including overnight weather) will be warm enough to plant tender plants like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, basil, etc. 
  • Transplanting seedlings and seeding directly in the garden
    • Check the seed starting chart above for guidelines about timing
    • Note that exact timing for planting is dependent on the actual weather, not the historical averages. Make sure the weather is warm enough (including nighttime temperatures) before planting out tender plants, like tomatoes, peppers, basil, etc.
  • garden maintenance
    • watering
    • weeding
    • preparing garden for planting

Garden Lessons

  • Explore insects in the garden
    • beneficial insects (pollinators, etc)
    • detrimental insects/critters
  • Habitats and food chains in the garden
  • 5 Senses exploration with students
  • Remind students that they should only pick or taste anything with specific permission from a teacher
  • Seasonal changes/cycles in the garden
  • Invasive species
  • Harvesting and preparing food
    • salad and dressing (using herbs from the garden)
    • Kale: kale pesto, 
    • garlic harvest (end of June - garlic scapes can be harvested earlier)
      • Garlic can be kept in the ground until about mid-July, if someone will be in the garden at that time

        July - August


        Garden Tasks

        • Watering
          • The most important thing most summers
        • Weeding 
          • Ask summer volunteers to only weed if they feel comfortable doing so. This is often the task that scares parents and community members from volunteering to help in the garden. The most important thing is watering, so at least there are living plants to come back to in September! 
        • Harvesting
        • Planting fall crops (in August)
        • Is there an on-site or nearby daycare or day camp that could help with summer maintenance?

        September - October


        Garden Tasks

        • Harvesting
        • Weeding
        • Seeding fall/cool weather crops (early September)

        Garden Lessons

        • Harvesting - tasting foods in the garden; 5 senses exploration
        • Seed exploration and seed saving
        • harvesting/cooking:
          • kale and oregano pesto with pasta
          • kale chips
          • carrot taste testing (trying different varieties)
        • Garden exploration - getting to know the garden
          • Scavenger hunts:
            • Shapes in nature
            • Measuring using non-standard units (find something living taller than you, find plants that are longer than a trowel, find a leaf that’s smaller than a garden glove…)
            • Colours in nature/in the garden
        • Seasonal changes/cycles in the garden
        • Mapping and measuring the garden (useful to do at this time of year with students, in preparation for garden planning in the winter)
        • Soil studies
        • Invasive species

        October - December


        Garden Tasks

        • garden clean-up/winterizing:
          • Remove dead plants
          • weeding
          • plant cover crops
          • seed saving
        • Planting garlic (late October/early November)

        Garden Lessons

        • Making seed packages 
        • Compost/vermicompost
        • Seasonal changes/cycles in the garden
        • Garden mapping/planning
        • Biodiversity in the garden and in our food system
        • Where does our food come from? (food miles, food system, etc.)