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Horticulture Project Ideas

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Would you like to teach your 6th through 12th grade students about horticulture? These conjoint group projects will allow them to cooperate, as they analyze horticulture and learn how gardens can improve the quality of life on Earth.

Why Horticulture?

Someone once said that 'working in a garden is like digging knowledge from the Earth.' As our planet becomes more and more crowded and our precious resources dwindle, it is of exigent concern we teach our students about horticulture and its value to all living creatures. Your middle and high schoolers will benefit from these three useful horticultural projects, as they work together to analyze old ideas and create new ideas.

Attention - always keep a bee sting kit handy in case a student is stung while gardening.

Start a School Garden

  • While reading about plants and learning their names and related characteristics is nice, nothing is a substitute for getting your hands dirty and growing your own plants. For this ongoing project, your students will create their very own gardens.

Materials: online access, paper, soil, textbooks, various items to use as planters, various plants and seeds, water, writing instruments

  • Since most teachers and school systems don't have large budgets for plants and planters, it is imperative to be creative and use available materials. Inexpensive ideas could include:
    • Cleaning old tires to paint and then potting plants inside them
    • Painting fence slats to look like people
    • Bucket gardens
    • Stackable gardens
    • Vertical gardens
    • Cinder block tomatoes

Note - make sure your rows are fairly narrow, so students can reach all the way across them. Also, make sure the spacing between rows is fairly wide, so your students don't step on the plants.

Easiest Plants to Grow

Don't discourage your students with plants that might easily die. While there exists no guarantee, easier plants to grow include:

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins

Bird-Friendly Plants and Butterfly-Friendly Plants

Herbs such as fennel, oregano, parsley, and thyme are easy to grow. They often attract bees and butterflies to the garden.

Advanced - consider adding composting bins and earthworms to your garden project.

Native Plants

Each state has native plants, and they tend to have a higher survival rate than non-native plants.

  • Have your students work in small groups to write five-minute skits in which they educate others on the importance of starting and maintaining a school garden.
  • Have your students create three-minute educational videos they can post online explaining the benefits of a school garden.

Optional - many teachers are not aware they can actually apply for school garden grants. You and your students can go online to explore the many opportunities to receive funding for your school garden.

Discussion Question: If every school in your country had a garden, how would that change problems with food costs and food waste?

Horticulture Large Wall Mural

  • A mural featuring dozens of different plant species will not only be educational, but will also liven up your room.

Materials: books featuring various plants; colored markers, pens, and pencils; roll of large mural paper; online capability; scissors; tape

  • Allow your students to look in their books or go online to find some pictures of their favorite plants. While they are doing this, you can tape the mural to the walls of your room.
  • Now allow your students to draw on the mural.
  • Also have each student write two-page papers detailing the different types of plants such as trees, shrubs, ferns, mosses, algae, and other plants.
  • In addition, have your students create true or false, multiple choice, and fill-in-the-blank quizzes about horticulture, and have them exchange them with one another.

Optional - allow your students to film the mural as it changes over the course of several weeks, and post the videos online for other students to view.

Discussion Question: Which plant looks best when it is drawn on a mural? Why?

Grow Plants from Kitchen Scraps

  • Did you know that people waste a disgusting 30% of all food worldwide, and that the total of 40% in America is even worse? Meanwhile, world population has ballooned to over seven billion people, many of whom literally starve to death.
  • In this project, your students will not only learn how to grow food from kitchen scraps, but also learn to appreciate the value of not wasting precious food.

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