Veggie Bytes Volume 11 Issue 1 | February-April 2020

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School Gardens are Greauxing Throughout Louisiana!

Last year the LSU AgCenter sponsored gardens in 67 different schools. Teachers are reporting that students love gardening. Beyond pulling weeds and harvesting fresh produce, a school garden provides students the chance to learn science and math and more outside the classroom. Students at Meadowview Elementary use rulers to measure out individual squares in their garden, and then keep measuring for proper plant spacing. The Meadowview students also watched insect cycles in the garden everything visited form, ladybeetles, to praying mantis, frogs and more. Mrs. Lisa Wiggins from Northwestern State University Lab School had students writing bibliographies about gardening, planting vegetables and trying out aquaponics. Her students even turned the tune of “High Hopes’ into a song about gardening! South Beauregard Upper Elementary students germinated vegetable seeds using different lights, regular light bulbs, sun and special grow lights to record and monitor growth. Parks Primary School developed a morning garden club and had pine mulch races – weed prevention made fun. Students from all schools tasted vegetables throughout the year. Growing a garden is more than learning where your food comes from. It’s an outdoor lab. From science to art, music, health, engineering history and literature, a garden is a useful classroom tool.

Girls holding flowers

Kids surrounding raised garden bed.

Special grow lights on plants.

Wondering What to Plant?

February

Direct Seed into the Garden

Beets, turnips, mustard greens, parsley, radish, lettuce, snap beans, and Irish potatoes

Transplant into the Garden

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce

Start Seed in Classroom

Tomato, pepper, and eggplant

March

Direct Seed into the Garden

Snap beans, Swiss chard, radish, lettuce, collard greens, mustard greens, and turnips

Transplant into the Garden

Tomato, pepper, and eggplant

Start Seed in Classroom

Cucumbers and squash

April

Direct Seed into the Garden

Snap beans, butter beans, radish, collard greens, and cucumbers

Transplant into the Garden

Sweet potato slips, tomato, cucumber, pepper, squash, and eggplant

Squash Student Jitters By Planting Squash

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Squash is a plant that keeps on giving all growing season! Squash plants make great additions to school gardens as in most cases they are ready to harvest before school lets out. This is especially true if you start squash seed in your classroom in early March and then plant the seedlings outside in early to Mid-April. (Earlier plant dates for south La schools, later for north La schools). Space squash about 18 inches apart and water as needed. When flowering begins, fertilize once a week with a water-soluble fertilizer. A healthy squash plant should produce fruit all summer long.

A common problem in squash is incomplete pollination, resulting in squash fruit rotting on one end. To remedy this, plant flowers near or in your vegetable garden. A great option is zinnias—they bloom from spring until frost and attract plenty of pollinators to your garden. Vegetable flowers need to have a bee visit them several times for successful pollination. Squash plants (pictured above left) have big yellow flowers that are either male or female. The male flowers open first to attract bees to the area, then the female flowers a few days later. You can tell the difference between male and female flowers by looking at the base of the flower. A female flower will have a bulbous end, indicating the ovary where a squash will form if pollinated. If pollination occurs, a squash will develop on the female flower and will be ready for harvest when it is about the length of your hand. If you still do not see pollinator activity around your garden, have your students use Q-tips or paint brushes to move pollen from male flowers onto the stigma of the female flowers. A great active lesson for those students who just cannot sit still.


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Female flowerjpg

Male flower on the left and female flower on the right.

Zinnias Help Attract Pollinators to Your Garden

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A successful vegetable garden needs pollinators. Zinnias can help you attract them. Zinnias are an annual cut flower that are known for having large, brightly colored flowers.

Zinnias need to be planted in full sun, after the threat of freezing temperatures has past (usually late spring). You can buy seeds at your local nursery and plant them directly in the garden. You can even plant them next to vegetables, they won’t mind! Water thoroughly after planting. Invite the pre-K and K students to the garden to pick a zinnia and practice writing their “Zig Zag Z’s.”

You Can Learn What in the Garden?

Teachers throughout Louisiana are using the garden to teach all kinds of subjects.

Garden Grammar: Prefixes or Suffixes

Directions: In each sentence, underline words that have a prefix and circle words that have a suffix.

  • The gardener replanted her tomato seeds.
  • Take the okra outside and wash it.
  • The scarecrow is standing by our garden hose.
  • The 4th grade class helped the kindergarteners pick squash.
  • Do not be careless and plant the seeds too deep.
  • A thoughtful student brought leaves for our garden.
  • Our basket is so full of vegetables it might explode!
  • This is the sweetest strawberry I have ever tasted.
  • If you are unable to get your hands dirty, wear gloves.
  • Did our lettuce disappear, or did the deer visit again?


LSU AgCenter Growing Gardens!

Kathryn “Kiki” Fontenot, PhD
163 JC Miller Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

Mary Sexton, MS
161 JC Miller Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803


William Richardson LSU Vice President for Agriculture

Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Stations, Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, LSU College of Agriculture

The LSU AgCenter is a statewide campus of the LSU system and provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. Visit us at the LSU AgCenter website.

5/10/2021 8:49:28 PM
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