Last year I received a grant from Opportunity Alliance for extending the gardening season. With it we built a seedling grow station, a small hoop house and purchased row covering materials. We also purchased materials for supporting a lot of tomato plants. Everything except the hoop house worked as hoped for last year. The hoop house didn’t take us through the winter as hoped, but it did lengthen the season some. This year I changed up the usage of these materials some to really support growing our own food source and not just experimenting.
Decided to grow only seedlings we had success with last year and ate: cabbages, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squashes, kale, lettuce and herbs. I’ll support our local farmers with some seedling purchases of broccoli, brussels sprouts, and early crop of lettuce.
Some seeds were early into the garden and sprouting under row cover. Our warmer weather seedlings are hardening off outside during the day and in at night this week. They’ll make their way into the garden shortly, as frost date is past and warmer regular weather. Also have a good variety of seeds that like the warmer soil and onion sets to get in the ground. The onion sets and larger seeds are very small hand friendly for my young planting helpers. The herbs are into the hoop house this year to see if we can lengthen their harvesting season.
We also have last year’s leaves to mulch the rows with, mixing in newspaper we’ve recycled and been using for scissor practice.
Gardening with children of any age offers so many learning opportunities. At the preschool age the following indicator areas of the Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards (MELDS) are supported:
- Emotional Development – self concept, self-regulation
- Social Development – building relationships with adults
- Approaches to Learning – initiative & curiosity, engagement & persistence
- Early Language and Litaracy – comprehension & collaboration, presentation of knowledge & ideas, vocabulary acquisition & use, integration of knowledge & ideas, research to build & present knowledge-writing
- Physical Development and Health – nutrition, fine motor, gross motor,physical health status
- Math – mathematical practices, counting & cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, geometry, measurement & data
- Science – earth science, life science
- Social Studies – civics and government, economics, geography, history