Already published on my desertification weblog on May 25, 2007
May 25, 2007
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Gardening in Containers
Growing in Small and Soilless Spaces
So, you have more asphalt than soil in your schoolyard; students who, because of physical challenges, cannot easily access your outdoor garden; or simply little growing space. Consider what cool containers filled with vibrant colors, living lunches, or ethnic plantings can do for school entrances, classroom windows, or a corner of the community — not to mention, the curriculum. Your students certainly wouldn’t be the first to try their hands at confining garden plants. Historically, evidence abounds of plants perched in pots, but perhaps the most famous example is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built by King Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century B.C. near modern-day Baghdad. These immense gardens were not actually hanging, but consisted of a daunting number of container gardens cascading from a terraced hillside. We’re not suggesting anything nearly so elaborate. Even the smallest outdoor nook can sport a thriving crop of vegetables, herbs, and flowers in containers. With some creative thinking and recycled materials from baskets to old shoes, your students can design special theme plantings, entice butterflies and other insect visitors, or create products such as hanging fragrance gardens or “patriotic” baskets to sell or donate.
Unlike conventional gardens where plants are, well, rooted in place, containers offer flexibility; you can move them to meet your students’ needs or the plants’ needs. And because plants in containers depend, in large part, on the gardener to meet their needs, they can inspire a variety of student-designed growing investigations. Here we share the essentials for growing in containers. The Curriculum Connections section features some sample container projects and offers ideas for making container culture an investigative learning experience. The Resources section describes Web sites, books, and container gardening tools to help you dig deeper.
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