We’ve all seen this challenge; a green, flourishing, fruitful school garden turns into a dry, twiggy, unkempt mess over the summer months and is in complete disarray by the time school starts. What kind of school garden program would we be if we didn’t offer practical solutions to the summer break syndrome?
- Gather your Resources: There are a multitude of resources, online and offline, that describe different techniques for maintaining a school garden over summer. If you are wholeheartedly committed to continuing your garden, study up! Check out this great resource as a starting point for more learning!
- Utilize Healthy Planet’s Website: On the Healthy Planet US website we have a collection of resources specifically for educating you about the garden. For summer gardening, you can use both the Maintenance Schedule or Watering Schedule so volunteers can sign up to help work in the garden throughout the summer, as well as the Garden Watering Frequency document to help everyone understand how often certain crops need to be watered!
- Harvest & Cover Crop or Cover Up: If you are planning to spend little or no time in the garden over summer your best bet for maintaining good soil is to harvest what is currently in your garden, clear out the beds and either cover crop or cover up! If you cover crop your garden you will need to water the beds at least once a week depending on your region. See this link for good cover crop seeds to purchase. If you are leaving the garden entirely unattended throughout the summer, we would recommend covering the beds. Here’s a step-by-step guide to sheet mulching your garden beds.
- Ask for Help: If you are in desperate need of some volunteer assistance, reach out to an organization near you to see if they have any resources. There are many regional organizations (Master Gardener Programs, community colleges or university campuses, etc.) that could have volunteers, as well as local organizations and businesses (local nursery, church, PTA, etc.).
- Drip, Drip, Drip Away: Drip irrigation can be a pricey investment, but it will be worth it in the long-term by reducing the amount of water used, the time spent in the garden, and the cost of buying new hoses and watering cans. Ask your local nursery or hardware store if they would be willing to donate some of their equipment so you can install a drip system in your school garden before summer. Check out this online resource about different systems as well as this resource about drip irrigation basics. Here’s another handy resource that describes installing drip into raised garden beds!