Garden Shed February 2021

February 11, 2021
5 minute read

Happy New Gardening Year!

Though teaching gardens are covered with snow it’s time to plan ahead for the new gardening year. To ring in the new gardening year we’re pleased to announce several new initiatives to better serve teaching garden leadership teams and teachers. Below we’ll introduce you to First Wednesday Zoom meetings; weekly garden care tips; teaching garden coaches, and instructional videos. Please don’t miss the list of 2021 teaching garden theme options.

In-Person Leadership Team Visits

Covid-19 has kept the GW/SDAITC staff and teaching garden leadership teams apart. We miss you! During the next couple of months we, as staff, want to reconnect with teaching garden leadership teams by making in-person visits. Can we visit your team? If so, use the attached registration form to suggest a date.

First Wednesday Leadership Team Zoom Meetings

To enhance communications with teaching garden leadership teams, we are launching monthly Zoom meetings. The first Zoom meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 17, 3:30 p.m. to review the 2021 Theme Garden options. Starting on March 3, we kick-off monthly teaching garden Zoom meetings to be called First Wednesday. While the meetings will be scheduled from 3:30-4:30 p.m., they will likely be 30 minutes or less in length. This will be an opportunity to discuss teaching garden care, share teaching garden ideas, answer questions from teachers, and introduce garden-based lessons. The First Wednesday Zoom meetings will be offered this spring, through the summer, and into the fall. The first, First Wednesday of the 2021-22 school year will be September 1. Reminders and Zoom links will be emailed out the Tuesday morning before each Wednesday meeting.

Weekly Teaching Garden Care Tips

Starting in mid-April leadership teams will be emailed a one page, Weekly Teaching Garden Care Tips. Each tip sheet will outline timely ideas for best practices for growing a thriving teaching garden that will inspire students, teachers, and communities.

Teaching Garden Coaches

In partnership with SDSU Extension Master Gardeners, we will be training and supervising a team of teaching garden coaches. Coaches will provide gardening expertise to teaching garden sites. Each week, during the active growing season, the coach will visit their assigned teaching garden to monitor potential challenges from insects, weeds, and weather. After the garden visit, the coach will contact the garden manager to suggest ways to best respond to the garden challenges. With approval from GW/SDAITC, SDSU Extension Master Gardeners, and the local school, some coaches could assist teachers and students with work and lessons in the teaching garden.

If you want more information for a coach to be assigned to your teaching garden please indicate on the registration form.

Grow Light Kits

Table top grow light kits are available to all teaching garden sites free of charge. The kits includes the hanging light structure; self-watering seed starting flats; heating pad; timer for setting lights to a 16 hours on and 8 hours off schedule; and seeds.

March 15 is the time to start pepper and annual flower seeds under grow lights. Tomato seeds should be started at the end of March through the April 1.

If your teaching garden site doesn’t have a grow light kit and wants one please make your request with the button below when you request your themes.

If you need to replenish your grow light kit supplies please place your order with the button below when you request your themes. The photos below show the grow light structure and the needed supplies.

Teaching Garden Instructional Videos Pilot

One of the benefits of the restrictions of Covid is that we all have become comfortable using online instruction. Starting in March, we’ll be posting teaching garden instructional videos on the GW/SDAITC YouTube channel. Don't forget to subscribe!

The videos will be no more than five minutes, with the GW/SDAITC staff and Master Gardeners as primary teachers. Examples of videos: growing plants under grow lights; preparing the garden soil for planting; using the theme garden grow sheet to plant; identifying weeds; harvesting; simple meals to prepare for students from the teaching garden; garden tour of selected teaching gardens, etc. Some videos will demonstrate a science, math, history, and language arts lessons that can be taught to students while doing a task in the garden. Please remember this is a pilot initiative. We’ll be counting on you to tell us what works, and what doesn’t.

2021 Theme Garden Options

Garden themes provide teachers with a structured and guided approach to the planting and care of teaching garden beds. Seed packets and transplants are provided for each theme garden by GW & SDAITC. Each theme garden packet provides the exact numbers of seeds, transplants, and supplies to successfully plant a 4’ x 10’ raised garden bed. The theme garden packet includes a Grow Sheet with step-by-step instructions to plant and care for each theme garden. Teachers with little, or no, gardening experience can easily teach and demonstrate planting a teaching garden bed using a theme garden packet.

2021 theme gardens include:

  • *Spring Salad Bar: Lettuce, spinach, kale, and one each of cherry tomato and pepper plants
  • *Fall Salad Bar: Lettuce, spinach, kale, and broccolini
  • *Combination Salad Bar: Planting of Spring and Fall Salad Bars using the same garden bed. (Edible cover crops will be planted during the summer months for all salad bowl options)
  • Magic Beans: A collection of colorful and highly nutritious dry beans for fall harvest.
  • *Pizza: Tomatoes, peppers, onions, herbs, and wheat for late summer and fall harvest.
  • Stone Soup: Potatoes, carrots, onions, and dry beans for late summer and fall harvest.
  • Three Sisters: Native American varieties of corn, pole beans, and winter squash for fall harvest.
  • *Salsa: Tomatoes, peppers (sweet and mildly hot), onions, and selected herbs for fall harvest.
  • Underground Mysteries: Carrots, potatoes, radishes, sweet potatoes, and beets for fall harvest.
  • Movie Night: Popcorn and sunflowers for fall harvest.
  • *Pollinator: Culinary herbs and edible flowers that attract bees, butterflies and wild pollinators.
  • Sweet Treats: Day neutral strawberries are transplanted in the spring and maintained during the summer. The strawberries will be fruiting when students return to school in the fall.
  • Fall Festival: Colored corn and small pumpkins
  • The Flower Bed: Combination of annual flowers that can be cut for bouquets.
  • Down on the Farm agri-theme: Field corn, soybeans, sunflowers, wheat, or oats.
  • The Story of Corn agri-theme: Teosinte (progenitor of modern corn), open pollinated corn, and hybrid corn.
  • Dirt Made My Bacon Cheeseburger agri-theme: Livestock feed crops: alfalfa, oats, field corn, soybeans representing the science and economics of SD animal agriculture.
  • Let it Rest: Use cover crops for a season to replenish soil fertility and suppress weeds.

*Designates that some, or all, of the plants can be started indoors using a GW & SDAITC grow light kit. To obtain a Grow Light kit, please send an email to:, or call, 605-275-9159.