• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
  • r ranson
  • Jay Angler
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • paul wheaton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Timothy Norton
  • Christopher Weeks
gardeners:
  • Saana Jalimauchi
  • Jeremy VanGelder
  • Ulla Bisgaard

Beginning gardening class: What would you teach?

 
gardener
Posts: 1047
Location: Zone 6 in the Pacific Northwest
532
2
homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am teaching a beginning gardening class at my church this Friday and I have ten minutes to teach people how to grow food.  My notes and outline have grown too long and as I'm looking at what to cut out, I thought I'd ask you all what you think are the top things that everyone needs to know to be able to find some success in growing their own food. I'll use your input to refine my presentation.

Someone else is taking a few minutes to talk about why people should grow food and the benefits of gardening.  My part is the practical side. 10 minutes is to keep this a short introduction, then we are having hands-on planting seeds and I'm going to have a bunch of things for people to look at and ask questions about afterwards, like some common edible weeds, upcycled growing containers, easy seeds for direct sowing (calendula, marigolds, dill, peas, etc), fresh food to taste from my garden, and so on.

So if you only have 10 minutes to talk about food gardening, and you don't want to overwhelm or scare people, what do you think is the number one thing people should know?
 
gardener
Posts: 3790
Location: South of Capricorn
1975
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If I were to teach this class for 10 minutes (and the activity immediately following is planting seeds), I'd teach them how to read a seed packet, identify different amounts of light and drainage (maybe give a list of basic food plants that like full sun, part shade, wet feet, dry feet), and plant to the correct depth.
If I were giving a handout I'd maybe add some extras about common plants (plants to stake, plants that need to be covered against pests, plants for spring/early summer, high summer, fall or whatever the corresponding thing is in your environment).

I'd try to emphasize that time solves most problems, you don't need anything fancy, and nature's got it down, we just need to move along with the flow.
 
steward
Posts: 15128
Location: USDA Zone 8a
4150
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like Tereza's suggestions.  

Learning how to read a seed packet is really easy and the seed packet has all the information about how to plant that seed.

My first lesson was how to plant seeds.  I am not really sure when that was though I suspect that it was third grade.

After I married and started growing the first plants I used that same method.

The lesson included some seeds, like pinto beans, an egg carton, and cotton balls.  Once the seeds and cotton balls were placed in the egg carton compartments, the seeds were watered.  Using an egg carton allowed me to take the plants home once they had sprouted to be planted in our backyard.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2945
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
951
dog forest garden urban cooking bike fiber arts
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jenny Wright wrote:I am teaching a beginning gardening class at my church this Friday and I have ten minutes to teach people how to grow food.  My notes and outline have grown too long and as I'm looking at what to cut out, I thought I'd ask you all what you think are the top things that everyone needs to know to be able to find some success in growing their own food. I'll use your input to refine my presentation.

Someone else is taking a few minutes to talk about why people should grow food and the benefits of gardening.  My part is the practical side. 10 minutes is to keep this a short introduction, then we are having hands-on planting seeds and I'm going to have a bunch of things for people to look at and ask questions about afterwards, like some common edible weeds, upcycled growing containers, easy seeds for direct sowing (calendula, marigolds, dill, peas, etc), fresh food to taste from my garden, and so on.

So if you only have 10 minutes to talk about food gardening, and you don't want to overwhelm or scare people, what do you think is the number one thing people should know?



Ten minutes to teach beginners about gardening??? That's as good as impossible!
You might try to teach them about the principles of permaculture. First the three ethics and then the twelve design principles.
Probably this will surprise your beginners class. Maybe they will think you'll tell them what are easy plants to grow, or how to treat the soil. But I think the principles are the way to start.  And they (at least the twelve) are really 'practical'.
 
Jenny Wright
gardener
Posts: 1047
Location: Zone 6 in the Pacific Northwest
532
2
homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Ten minutes to teach beginners about gardening??? That's as good as impossible!
You might try to teach them about the principles of permaculture. First the three ethics and then the twelve design principles.
Probably this will surprise your beginners class. Maybe they will think you'll tell them what are easy plants to grow, or how to treat the soil. But I think the principles are the way to start.  And they (at least the twelve) are really 'practical'.


πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ Oh yes, ten minutes is so short. I've written so much, I'm thinking I have a nice outline to turn into an actual book.
But the idea is to get people to just grow something and hopefully that sparks a desire to know more and build off of this short introduction. I'm definitely going to talk about permaculture principles woven throughout.
 
Jenny Wright
gardener
Posts: 1047
Location: Zone 6 in the Pacific Northwest
532
2
homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been thinking what made me start gardening because growing up into my young adulthood , I would have rather done anything other than gardening (I think it was my allergies- I just usually felt miserable outside because I was so itchy and swollen when I touched anything). But I think it was the fact that I didn't like what I was finding in the grocery store to eat and I remembered how delicious things tasted from my parents' garden. So that's what motivated me in the beginning.

I feel like if people can grow something delicious and if it was cheaper and easier than going to the grocery store, then they will be more likely to grow more and learn more. So I think that is my goal- to give them the knowledge they need to grow something delicious with minimal labor (and how they can eat the weeds and things taste better with good soil fertility and when you don't use chemical sprays and fertilizers.)

People are going to have all sorts of motivation for starting a garden but I think it's the reward you get at the end that gets people to keep growing.
 
Jenny Wright
gardener
Posts: 1047
Location: Zone 6 in the Pacific Northwest
532
2
homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tereza Okava wrote:If I were to teach this class for 10 minutes (and the activity immediately following is planting seeds), I'd teach them how to read a seed packet, identify different amounts of light and drainage (maybe give a list of basic food plants that like full sun, part shade, wet feet, dry feet), and plant to the correct depth.
If I were giving a handout I'd maybe add some extras about common plants (plants to stake, plants that need to be covered against pests, plants for spring/early summer, high summer, fall or whatever the corresponding thing is in your environment).

I'd try to emphasize that time solves most problems, you don't need anything fancy, and nature's got it down, we just need to move along with the flow.



Oh yes, reading seed packets is something I wanted to do but I forgot to write that down! Thanks!

I liked to emphasize that for the best success, you have to work with nature and not fight against it!
 
Tereza Okava
gardener
Posts: 3790
Location: South of Capricorn
1975
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jenny Wright wrote:Idelicious things....


so what sort of delicious samples will you have for them to taste?
 
Jenny Wright
gardener
Posts: 1047
Location: Zone 6 in the Pacific Northwest
532
2
homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Miller wrote:

The lesson included some seeds, like pinto beans, an egg carton, and cotton balls.  Once the seeds and cotton balls were placed in the egg carton compartments, the seeds were watered.  Using an egg carton allowed me to take the plants home once they had sprouted to be planted in our backyard.


I've never thought of using a cotton ball. Is the idea just to keep them moist to germinate, like using a paper towel? Fun!
 
Jenny Wright
gardener
Posts: 1047
Location: Zone 6 in the Pacific Northwest
532
2
homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tereza Okava wrote:

Jenny Wright wrote:Idelicious things....


so what sort of delicious samples will you have for them to taste?


😁
Well I want people to see that they can grow year round in our climate so I thought a kale salad with chives and celery, all growing through the winter here.

A nettle smoothie with blackberries picked last summer.

I'm going to bring some bitter cress to nibble on to show them that weeds are fun to eat.

Then I have popcorn (and popcorn seeds). And I might make some mini corn muffins- not sure about that one because not everyone has room to grow corn and the popcorn is a smaller plant than the flour corn, plus flour corn requires a bit more effort to process. But they'd be delicious anyway.

I have leeks growing right now too but cold leeks don't sound very appetizing to me. Maybe leeks in the muffins (though I'm usually a strictly sweet cornbread kind of girl!)
 
Anne Miller
steward
Posts: 15128
Location: USDA Zone 8a
4150
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jenny Wright wrote:

Anne Miller wrote: The lesson included some seeds, like pinto beans, an egg carton, and cotton balls.  Once the seeds and cotton balls were placed in the egg carton compartments, the seeds were watered.  Using an egg carton allowed me to take the plants home once they had sprouted to be planted in our backyard.



I've never thought of using a cotton ball. Is the idea just to keep them moist to germinate, like using a paper towel? Fun!



Yes, that is the idea.   Keep them damp until they sprout, then plant the seedling and the cotton ball.

I like your idea about having fresh food to sample so people can see how much better home grown food tastes!
 
gardener
Posts: 1628
Location: Central Maine (Zone 5a)
612
homeschooling kids trees chicken woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would make sure to talk about compost and mulch. Here is a quote from one of my previous posts on why I think it is important.

...let me summarize a secret of gardening that is common among all of the popular gardeners (Eliot Coleman, Ruth Stout, Paul Gautschi, Charles Douding, and so many others), and all of their various, effective, methods of gardening. If you want the best garden you can have, you need mulch and compost. I am using compost in the loosest definition here as "something organic turning back into soil". Whether this is compost, mulch, compost as mulch, composting mulch, or any combination there of, the key to each of these various methods is that they are creating a living soil that contains all the nutrients (macro and micro) that plants need. Look at all the methods and you will see this common theme.

 
pollinator
Posts: 529
410
forest garden trees books building
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jenny Wright wrote:I am teaching a beginning gardening class at my church this Friday and I have ten minutes to teach people how to grow food.  My notes and outline have grown too long
...

So if you only have 10 minutes to talk about food gardening, and you don't want to overwhelm or scare people, what do you think is the number one thing people should know?



But overwhelming can be a *good* and fun thing, too, you know?  If I only had 10 minutes to talk food gardening, the number one thing I would teach is...

What do plants need?
  • Sun
  • Healthy soil
  • Air
  • Water
  • Warmth
  • Space
  • Protection
  • Pollination / propagation

  • I taught some 3 and 4 year olds this during a workshop a year or two back.  I used hand and arm gestures in an attempt to help increase kinesthetic learning.  My gestures were similar to the table below.  Discussion was a lot more at the kid-level, naturally.  I still wanted to work in key concepts and words, though, like photosynthesis.

    Gardening in 10 minutes:
    1. Spend 60" with a chalkboard/whiteboard asking people "Today we're going to talk about 'What do plants need?'" to get them thinking critically.  Come up with a list together, but have your own list ready to read off of regardless.

    2. Quick 30" introduction and transition:

    "Okay, great list everyone!  Now I'm going to pick 8 things from our list that plants need, and we're going to come up with a gesture for each one of them to help us remember what plants need!  We'll do a gesture, with everyone joining in, and then we'll talk about it for one minute."

    3.  Discussion points. 60 seconds each.

    Plants need...GestureDiscussion
    SunSaluting to shade your eyes.Plants photosynthesize to make sugars. Winter vs Summer solar arcs.  Too much sun can burn seedlings.  Lanky plants are reaching for more light.  Tall plants go in the back just like tall people go in the back.
    Healthy soilReaching down to grab the ground.Microbes are good! Feed the soil to feed the plant. Macronutrients are NPK, micronutrients exist.  Ph range determines if nutrients are up-takeable by the plant. But who cares, because organic matter & compost is like love, covering over a multitude of gardening sins.
    AirTaking a deep breath in and out, with arms moving in unison.Plants photosynthesize CO2, but also have respiration in roots!  The % of healthy soil which is air is about same as % water.   Compaction bad.  Airflow & wind good, but like with people, some stress is healthy, too much is bad.  Trees 'eat' the wind to make wood. Windbreak is important.
    WaterTrickling fingers like rain, but bottom to up.Don't over do it...Plants don't "drink" water like we do.  Need moisture to unlock soil nutrients and siphon them up through plant.  1" water per week is enough.  Deeper and infrequent is better than shallow and frequent.  Mulch is good.   Don't water the leaves from above, water the ground up instead (Genesis 2 style)
    WarmthShivering.Frost bad. Frost dates determine when you can plant things. USDA zones exist. Back of seed packet helps with timing.  But microclimates exist too!  Be a rebel sometimes and push your zone.  Take notes each year to be a better rebel. Mulch good.  Windbreak good.
    SpaceHolding arms out like Maria from Sound of Music.People need space.  Roots need space.  Shoots need space.  Back of seed packet helps with spacing. Square foot gardening method exists. Crowns touching rule for perennials.
    ProtectionHands out like "stop" sign.Haters gonna' hate.  Nibblers gonna' nibble.  Bugs will be bugs. Kids will be kids. Dogs will be dogs.  Deer will be dinner.  Discuss fencing and bug control, and planting enough for everyone to enjoy.
    Pollination / propagation / seed-bearingHands like a butterfly.Birds and the bees.  Biennial vs. perennial vs annual.  Seed saving.


    4. 30" finish off with all the gestures of "What do plants need?" in a row.
     
    Jenny Wright
    gardener
    Posts: 1047
    Location: Zone 6 in the Pacific Northwest
    532
    2
    homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator

    George Yacus wrote:

    But overwhelming can be a *good* and fun thing, too, you know?  If I only had 10 minutes to talk food gardening, the number one thing I would teach is...

    What do plants need?

    Gardening in 10 minutes:
    1. Spend 60" with a chalkboard/whiteboard asking people "Today we're going to talk about 'What do plants need?'" to get them thinking critically.  Come up with a list together, but have your own list ready to read off of regardless.

    2. Quick 30" introduction and transition:

    "Okay, great list everyone!  Now I'm going to pick 8 things from our list that plants need, and we're going to come up with a gesture for each one of them to help us remember what plants need!  We'll do a gesture, with everyone joining in, and then we'll talk about it for one minute."

    3.  Discussion points. 60 seconds each.

    Plants need...GestureDiscussion
    SunSaluting to shade your eyes.Plants photosynthesize to make sugars. Winter vs Summer solar arcs.  Too much sun can burn seedlings.  Lanky plants are reaching for more light.  Tall plants go in the back just like tall people go in the back.
    Healthy soilReaching down to grab the ground.Microbes are good! Feed the soil to feed the plant. Macronutrients are NPK, micronutrients exist.  Ph range determines if nutrients are up-takeable by the plant. But who cares, because organic matter & compost is like love, covering over a multitude of gardening sins.
    AirTaking a deep breath in and out, with arms moving in unison.Plants photosynthesize CO2, but also have respiration in roots!  The % of healthy soil which is air is about same as % water.   Compaction bad.  Airflow & wind good, but like with people, some stress is healthy, too much is bad.  Trees 'eat' the wind to make wood. Windbreak is important.
    WaterTrickling fingers like rain, but bottom to up.Don't over do it...Plants don't "drink" water like we do.  Need moisture to unlock soil nutrients and siphon them up through plant.  1" water per week is enough.  Deeper and infrequent is better than shallow and frequent.  Mulch is good.   Don't water the leaves from above, water the ground up instead (Genesis 2 style)
    WarmthShivering.Frost bad. Frost dates determine when you can plant things. USDA zones exist. Back of seed packet helps with timing.  But microclimates exist too!  Be a rebel sometimes and push your zone.  Take notes each year to be a better rebel. Mulch good.  Windbreak good.
    SpaceHolding arms out like Maria from Sound of Music.People need space.  Roots need space.  Shoots need space.  Back of seed packet helps with spacing. Square foot gardening method exists. Crowns touching rule for perennials.
    ProtectionHands out like "stop" sign.Haters gonna' hate.  Nibblers gonna' nibble.  Bugs will be bugs. Kids will be kids. Dogs will be dogs.  Deer will be dinner.  Discuss fencing and bug control, and planting enough for everyone to enjoy.
    Pollination / propagation / seed-bearingHands like a butterfly.Birds and the bees.  Biennial vs. perennial vs annual.  Seed saving.


    4. 30" finish off with all the gestures of "What do plants need?" in a row.


    I love your actions! I came up with a game involving running around that would teach about plant families and plant characteristics but I don't know if I'll have time to use it.  But I was planning on talking about what plants need and all those points.  This is a great idea to get people up and moving and remembering!
     
    Posts: 523
    Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft Grafter, veggie gardener
    23
    • Likes 3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    In my ten minute class I'd discuss when to plant what crops. And I'd hand out a copy of that guide. The paper copy would include suggestions on what to direct seed and what to plant as seedlings. I'm assuming I'm teaching a local class so everyone could plant on the same day.
     
    gardener
    Posts: 828
    Location: Central Indiana, zone 6a, clay loam
    589
    forest garden fungi foraging trees urban chicken medical herbs ungarbage
    • Likes 4
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    10 minutes to teach this is a challenge! I would probably focus on getting them excited about gardening so they're inspired to keep learning and then maybe give them some ideas about how to keep learning. I think introducing and exploring the principle of observe and interact would be highly beneficial towards that end and it goes hand in hand with the idea of working with nature, rather than against it.

    I don't know that you could teach them how to compost in that amount of time, but certainly making a point of how beneficial compost is and how simple it can be seems important. Perhaps for some of these things you could introduce the idea and give them some handouts with more information and/or resources to learn more?

    Since overwhelm is a concern, perhaps a reminder that they can start small, even just a container or two, would be helpful. I think the small and slow approach is much more likely to lead to success and continued growth as a gardener. It also makes it more accessible, since not everyone will have the space or time to devote to a bigger garden.

    Maybe you could direct them to some friendly forums where people talk about gardening all the time as well...
     
    Jenny Wright
    gardener
    Posts: 1047
    Location: Zone 6 in the Pacific Northwest
    532
    2
    homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
    • Likes 7
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Whew, wow! I am exhausted!!! So much work for 10 minutes! Well actually teaching the whole group for ten minutes (And I may have gone sightly over but I know I didn't go past 15 minutes), and then I was able to talk to individual people and answer their questions and get people thinking about gardening in a different way than they were used to, all under an hour.

    Here's what I ended up doing...

    I made about 8 pages of worksheets and charts to pass out and cover the very basics that I knew I wouldn't get to. I spent my 10 minutes talking about goals and how to plan a garden based on one's goals. I talked about plant families, rotating crops or planting with families mixed together to head off disease and pests, how they can plant root crops with leafy crops and taller fruiting crops. I talked about living mulch and I also talked about eating weeds and the benefits of leaving some weeds in place. And I had a huge display of pictures of different weeds and insects that all had some beneficial qualities but looked horrid and weedy and creepy crawly. Then I asked what they should get rid of if they saw it in their garden, which was tricky since they were all good except for one thing. I had a picture of poison hemlock among all the good things because it has killed several people in our state over the last decade. So I showed them how to identify it and that this plant was the only thing they needed to be afraid of in their garden, but, with the exception of personal allergies, everything else I had pictures up of were good and beneficial. (Yes, Western Washington is quite idyllic πŸ’•)

    Then I had a big table with a lot of things for people to look at and ask questions about. I dug up some bitter cress and a kale plant and vase of stinging nettle. Nobody took me up on the offer to learn how to eat fresh leaves of nettle but tons of people liked the stinging nettle smoothie. And we had corn muffins and popcorn and a kale salad too. Every bit was eaten up except the popcorn, which I think was probably because it was lightly salted but didn't have any butter on it and people probably aren't used to eating popcorn without butter. Maybe? I also shared a lot of my seeds that I've grown for myself and I talked people into taking walking onion home with them. I think most everyone planted some tomatoes or peppers to get started.

    When I'm not so exhausted, I'll figure out how to share my worksheets and stuff on here with y'all if you are interested.
     
    Jenny Wright
    gardener
    Posts: 1047
    Location: Zone 6 in the Pacific Northwest
    532
    2
    homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
    • Likes 5
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Oh I forgot this... I started out by talking about how there is always something new to learn about gardening and no matter how many years, there will always be more that you don't know. But this isn't a bad thing. It just means that gardening is always exciting and you can never get bored. And then I said that as long as you are trying to grow, you will succeed. There is only one garden that I consider a failure... And I showed them a picture of a paved parking lot.

    If all your plants die but you have some weeds growing, then that is success. You are successfully growing weeds. Look them up, identify them, find out what they are good for. Wallah! They are no longer weeds and you are successfully growing a plant in your garden.
     
    Posts: 19
    9
    • Likes 3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Jenny, sounds like you did an awesome job. Bet your enthusiasm was contagious. Like your attitude about judging success and always more to learn, lots of right answers to lots of different situations. Hope you keep teaching.
     
    Paper beats rock. Scissors beats tiny ad.
    We need your help - Permies server fundraiser
    https://permies.com/wiki/260600/Permies-server-fundraiser
    reply
      Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
    • New Topic