School Garden Week of May 15th, 2023.

This is a weekly look at what is happening in the school garden to assist teacher educators engage their students in agriculture.  It can be used by garden students of all ages however!

Thank You Teachers!  You are Awesome!  I have enjoyed this past school year tremendously working with you and seeing the amazing job you are doing with your kiddos. 


We had questions at the focus groups on how long seeds remain viable.  I have a link on Growing Franklin with Seed Viability Information for you to learn about how long veggie family seeds are good for. 

CCS GTS Teachers!  It is time to get a last harvest and get your growing spaces cleaned and put to rest for the summer. 

Closing Up Your Garden

Please be sure that all of your garden systems are closed up before you leave for the summer. We are getting closer to the last day of the year and now is a good time to engage your students to assist you with garden clean up.  Here is some helpful information from Katie.

Outdoor Raised Bed:

  1. Harvest all of the remaining produce from the outdoor raised bed.
  2. Remove any weeds that are present.
  3. Cover with black plastic and use landscape pins to pin down the ends, middle, and sides of the plastic.
  4. Add some pavers or large rocks on top of the plastic to keep the wind from pulling the landscape pins out.
  5. If there is an issue with vandalism at your site, you may want to take your white hoops off of your bed and store them in your classroom.
  6. The black plastic is important because it will keep your garden free of weeds and pests over the summer.  Then in August, all you will need to do is roll back the plastic, mix up your soil, and you are ready to plant.  Please be sure to fold up this black plastic and store for use the following May.  This item will not be replaced each year. 
  7. Be sure to clean and fold up your fabric row covers and clips and store them for the following year. These items will not be replaced each year.


Row Cover Cleaning:

Row cover can be washed by hand in a sink or large tub of hot soapy water and then rinsed a few times in clear water. Or you can wash it in a washing machine on the gentle or delicate cycle. It’s best to dry it in the sun as it will also help disinfect it and brighten it.


Indoor Grow Stations : Cleaning your AeroGarden

Start by dismantling your garden and cleaning out your indoor plants and any leftover roots. Roots can grow into the filter, so be sure to clean it out and reinstall after you’ve finished cleaning the bowl. If the filter looks too worn, replace the filter to prolong the life of your pump. Be careful not to throw away your filter by accident! It’s easy to do when removing plant roots.

After clearing out the roots, you should clean and sanitize your AeroGarden® hydroponics growing system to help prevent the growth of root pathogens that can destroy your live plants. There are various ways to clean your garden:

If you have a dishwasher:

  • Put your grow deck and bowl in the top rack of the dishwasher.
  • Run through a warm or cold water cycle (do not use a hot water or heat dry cycle).
  • Reassemble to start your next round of gardening.

If you don’t have a dishwasher:

  • Fill the bowl with either water and a ¼ cup of chlorine bleach OR 5 cups of distilled white vinegar (no need to use water if you’re using the vinegar). Vinegar also helps prevent and clean up mineral deposits in your garden.
  • Let the water pump or aerator circulate the solution for 5 minutes.
  • Empty the solution, rinse well, and then fill with clear water (no bleach).
  • Allow the pump or aerator to circulate the clear water for 5 minutes.
  • Empty and rinse once more to ensure that all solution is rinsed from the bowl.

Cleaning the Grow Deck:

Sometimes roots will grow through the nozzles on the grow deck and prevent proper water flow. Separating and cleaning the grow deck of any stray roots can help keep the water flowing efficiently. The grow deck can be separated on almost all AeroGarden® models.

First, remove the grow deck from the bowl of your AeroGarden® and place it upside-down on a flat surface. Locate the tabs on the underside of the deck and push the tabs inward and down. The tabs are flexible and designed to be separated. Use a scrub brush or similar cleaning tool to remove the roots and any other debris from the grow deck. Snap back together in place.

 For your LED light and seed starting trays: 

  1. Clean trays and potting cups with soap and water (they are also top shelf dishwasher safe).
  2. Remove the sides of the LED light and place back into the box with the light panel.
  3. Store all of the potting cups, the timer, plug, and extension cord, trays and lights in a cabinet or storage tote.  If you have any extra potting mix, fertilizer, or seeds please store them with these other supplies.

CLICK for a PDF of the CLOSING THE GARDEN instructions –> Closing Up Your Garden


Outside in the raised beds:

Hopefully you are harvesting and tasting with your kiddos.  Only a short time left in the year!  Make sure to enjoy the harvest.

We are generally getting good rain but it can be hit or miss depending on where your garden is located.  Make sure to check your beds this week to see if they are dry or if the rain provided enough water for them.  We are about done with the need to fertilize.  You could try one more application of the pink crystal fertilizer in water if you have not fertilized in the past week or so. 

Inside in the Aerogarden:

Hopefully you are getting a harvest!  I had some delicious pizza made for me last week during a school visit.

Tomatoes are growing in the Aerogarden.   Follow the instructions for tomato planting carefully.  Make sure you are checking water levels and fertilize as needed.  Make sure you check water levels each Friday before you leave school so that the water level does not drop too low over the weekend.  CLICK HERE for the Aerogarden planting guide.

Keep your lights about 1-2″ from the leaves to avoid leggy plants.  Remember If you started two plants in your Aerogardens, you might need to thin to only one plant or they will overwhelm the Aerogarden eventually. You will need to start pollinating your tomato flowers once they appear.  Check the Aerogarden site for guidance on pollinating.  You will also need to do some pruning of your tomato plants to keep them growing correctly.

All of that is detailed very well in the Aerogarden Tomato Guide  –> tomato_planting_guide


Inside under LED lights.  

Make sure to harvest any remaining plants or transplant them outdoors as you will want to get your indoor LED lights, pots, and trays cleaned and stored before summer break.

Want to grow over summer in your own garden at home?

Check out the Full Year of Growing page that has 33 videos, webinars, fact sheets, and articles designed to assist the new to intermediate growers of produce and poultry.

If you need to contact me over summer feel free to email to Tim



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *