Chapter 2 – How to manage your garden
Once your garden is up and running, ongoing care and attention is essential to ensure that you have a fun and safe outdoor learning space. The garden may differ slightly from a normal garden in that it is important to ensure that growing areas can be accessed by the children. Before you head out into the garden for the first time, there are a few things to consider:
- Time management and holidays
- Tools and other resources
- Health and safety
Don’t view your time in the garden as an additional task. Time spent growing and exploring the garden offers so many possible learning opportunities. Before heading outside, get organized before you start an activity with the children, or ask the children to help you with the preparation. The best sessions usually happen when you work with small groups. Also. match children’s attention spans by making planned experiences short.
One key issue that often comes up is how you plan to manage your garden during holiday periods. Communication is the key to overcoming this potential problem. Speak to colleagues and parents to see if you can draw up a job schedule to ensure that important jobs such as watering all done during the holidays. You may also think about choosing plants that don’t need harvesting during holiday periods. Squashes are often a good choice, as these don’t require harvesting until after the summer break.
Tools and other resources
Children’s gardening resources are available from many suppliers. High quality, wooden/metal resources are a good investment, as they invariably last longer than plastic resources. Child size tools and garden equipment is important to allow children to handle them successfully and with confidence. Encourage the children to get digging and offer an appropriate range of tools for them to do so. A large spoon may be suitable for the younger children. You will find below a list of some of the items that might be useful. Don’t be afraid to speak to local businesses, as you may be able to get some of these items donated by a local garden centre or farm/farm shop. Useful items include:
- flower pots and trays
- watering cans and buckets
- Garden string, garden canes and labels
- child-sized tools
- children’s gardening gloves
- magnifying glasses for looking at insects, seeds or flowers