As the founder of Outdoor-Classrooms.com, my mission is to inspire teachers and parents to create outdoor classrooms and backyard teaching gardens on a shoestring budget. When COVID 19 hit, I went into over-drive to provide virtual nature-based resources for parents and teachers to help them reconnect children with nature. My own COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine inspired garden story is about my Square Foot raised garden expansion made from recycled wood. This project has allowed me to try something new while also sharing tips and tricks that I am learning along the way with my outdoor classrooms community.
(before photo in my neighbor’s yard)
Time in the garden has been the silver lining for me during this horrible pandemic. When my friend Jan offered her old raised garden beds to me, I was thrilled to have a big garden project to keep me busy outdoors.
Gardening in raised beds was new to me, so you can imagine my excitement. Thanks to my husband and his handiwork we both were amazed to see how eight pieces of old wood could be given new life!
Once the raised beds were re-constructed into their new home, they needed some new soil specific for raised beds. After doing a little research, I used Miracle Grow for Raised Beds. These beds are 12 feet by 4 feet and 9 inches deep, so we had our work cut out for us!
Creating a Square Foot Garden during a pandemic feels like a return to the Victory Gardens. I’m grateful to have the outdoor space and a sunny spot and know these Square Foot gardens will provide food for our family during this uncertain time. I also know the food we grow will be healthier and will limit our time in busy grocery stores during the Pandemic. The bonus is that these gardens also offer opportunities for outdoor learning and teaching for my community of teachers and parents.
Eventually it was time to square off the beds using the one-square-foot gardening method. With measuring tape, string, hammer, and nails, in hand, my kids and I created the 1-foot squares for planting – a fun family activity we were able to do together because we were all in quarantine.
A few lessons I have already learned:
- Good soil is worth the money! I have never seen my veggies look so good!
- There are a lot of squares to fill in 2 huge 12 by 4 garden beds. Wow!
- Learning new things is awesome!
- Just when you think a seed is not going to grow, with a little sun, water and care–pop—there it is! Magic!
Garden Bed #1 includes tomato plants that I grew from seed. I’m very proud of how they are thriving this year. This bed also includes basil, carrots a head of lettuce, some herbs, and a few baby seed broccolis. I’m still working on filling all the squares!
Garden Bed #2: includes sweet potatoes, oregano, bush beans, red pepper, cucumber, and melons. Lots of lettuce. All that and I still have empty squares. We also hung some strawberries.
Little by little my Square Foot garden is starting to grow. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m proud of my first try at both planting in raised garden beds and Square Foot gardening.
I’m looking forward to growing an abundance of food and finding ways to share the food and all the lessons I am learning with my outdoor classrooms community.
What is your COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine inspired garden story about? Are you rethinking your outdoor space? What have you learned? If you are a teacher, what are your plans for teaching outdoors? What tips and tricks can you share with other teachers? If you are a parent, how are you transforming your backyard into the teaching garden?
I’m working on a project. If you are interested, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org along with pictures and/or a short video. We are all in this together and how wonderful would it be to learn from one another?
Are you new around here? Welcome! Come take a look around our virtual playground of resources that will inspire you to create an outdoor classrooms and/or backyard teaching garden. Try out the FREE 5 Day Nature Art Challenge, 30-day Nature-Art Studio, a 1-hour Nature-Based Workshop, or dig a little deeper with a 4 week Master Class.
Our International community of teachers and parents who are committed to reconnecting children with nature is growing. Come on over to our Outdoor Classrooms Facebook Group and introduce yourself.