WV School Garden Toolkit

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Lessons from Radishes

By Tanya Hunt, AmeriCorps Farm to School Coordinator, Wayne County, WV

Last Thursday, I did my first major F2S lesson with the kindergarten students at Buffalo Elementary. My plan was to plant radishes with the students so each of them had their own that will grow up and then be eaten before they leave for winter break. Below are some pictures and lessons I learned from the experience.

You think hamburgers come from where?!
Putting our farmer hats on!
I cut the top of milk jugs off to use as free scoops to put dirt into the milk jug pots.
Poking a hole to plant a seed.
Distribution of the seeds.
Planting the seeds. I cut the top off the milk jug for our pots and poked holes in the bottom of them so they could drain.
Watering – glass jars with holes poked in the top. Give it a couple shakes per kid to water the baby radish.

1. You need a lot of soil. I quickly found out that I had severely underestimated the amount of soil I would need to plant radishes for each kindergartner. In my defense, the only radish variety at my local store was white icicle radishes, which are much longer than a traditional radish, so they needed much more soil depth. Not in my defense, I really had no clue how much soil I would need.

2. How to logistically plan with teachers. This is an issue I have been having a lot of problems with. As I mentioned in my last post, every step seems to have ten minor steps associated with it in the school system. What I figured out was that I just needed to put a note in the teachers’ boxes that said: “I will be here at x:00 pm, on the xth of November to plant radishes with your students. Please provide 4 milk jugs the day before the lesson. Let me know if this does NOT work for you.” Nobody said no.

3. It was good I picked radishes. From what I know, radishes are resilient, easy-to-grow vegetables. Choosing to plant this vegetable with kindergartners was an excellent choice as they may water too much, too little, not plant them deep enough, not give them enough soil, and/or they may not be placed in a location with enough sunlight.

4. Have clear directions. There would be many times during the lessons that I would say: “everyone over here, stand over there,” and the whole class would run to that place, rather than the smaller group of people I had indicated.

5. Cross your fingers that the Harvest Goddess will send happy radishes your way. Or just buy some from the super market if this doesn’t happen. I’ll keep you posted on how they grow!

What are your experiences doing some container gardening with classes? Have you had white icicle radishes before?