Did you know that March is Nutrition Month in Canada? What a happy coincidence that this month dedicated to learning about good nutrition coincides with the first day of spring. This presents an opportune time of year to introduce kids to horticulture, the part of agriculture connected to the business, science, technology, and art of plant cultivation. As we’re all about teachable moments at Teachers on Call, the start of spring presents a great chance for kids to start seeds with their families and classrooms. Read on for more lesson ideas on this topic for students.
Teaching children about gardening and horticulture is a great way to spark a healthy hobby (and healthy eating habits). We’ve got some great educational talking points for making this a fun family or school project!
Great Teachable Lessons on Plants
- Talking about seasons and growth cycles - In southern Ontario, because our growing season is a little bit short, certain plants need to be started indoors where it’s safe from frost—otherwise they won’t have a chance to come to maturity. Be sure to look up how long it takes your seedlings to mature, and then also when the last-frost date is for where you live, so you’ll know when it’s time to start, and when it’s safe to move your seedlings outside!
- Talking about planning – Most gardeners have at least a basic plan for how they’re going to design and plant! Get your child hyped by having them plan and draw their garden designs with you.
- Talking about different kinds of plants – There are lots of ways to have age-appropriate conversations during the planning and planting processes. Even very young children can weigh in on their favourite sorts of veggies, or whether they like ‘big tomatoes or little ones.’ Older kids can start to examine the upsides and downsides to specific cultivars—such as whether the tomato plant is indeterminate or determinate (how big will it grow?) and whether seeds can be saved for next year!
Early March Plants to Know About
Good candidates for indoor seedlings early in March are peppers and onions. Both are extremely yummy and nutritious, and don’t hesitate to point out the meals that your children may love these foods in, like nachos and stuffed peppers. Fun fact: these plants also do good things for one another when planted together! (We call pairing crops together for mutual benefit companion planting.)
If you’re nervous about starting onions from seed, did you know you can regrow green onions (scallions) from the root ends of ones you pick up from the grocery store? It’s true!
Late March Plants to Discover
Towards the end of March is a great time to start tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Tomatoes are a great crop to try for beginners. Broccoli and cauliflower are a little more advanced, because they will need some extra TLC. But it’s still lots of fun to try to grow!
The Process and Science of Hardening
All plants started indoors have to go through a period called ‘hardening’ in which you gradually introduce them to being outside. This period lasts between 5-7 days before planting outdoors, so don’t forget to make sure your seedlings have a safe, protected area which they can enjoy a little sun and fresh air without heavy wind or rain!
If your students are interested to continue learning for national Nutrition Month, feel free to check out our blog on food science with hydrating snacks. Good luck with your gardens!
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