Plant a Garden in Your Home School

All plants have scientific and common names, and the scientific names are usually Latin: cabbage is properly known as Brassica. Your Latin student can translate common names to Latin and learn to write scientific nomenclature correctly. Seed catalogs are a good resource for examples of Latin terms.

For more work in math and science, make graphs and charts that document the amount of time required for different seeds to germinate, elapsed time from planting to harvest, rainfall, temperature, and first and last frost dates from year to year. Determine the effect of rain, temperature, and fertilization programs on the amount of vegetables harvested. Children could also find out what happens to a sun-loving plant when it grows in the shade.

Look through seed catalogs and talk about why all the beans are separated from the tomatoes, and why the leafy greens are together. Talk about their similarities and differences in color, whether the edible portion grows above or below ground, and whether the plant likes cool weather or warm weather. Your children will come up with numerous questions about the garden; find out the answers together.

Plant a garden for your home school this spring, and you will have an excuse to spend beautiful spring days outside while also “doing school.” Your children will find out where food comes from, and you all will get exercise, tasty food, and many happy hours inside too, when the weather is bad, as you make plans for your garden.

Watering Tips

• Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch to reduce water evaporation.

• When the garden soil is dry, provide enough water to penetrate an inch or so below the surface of the soil.

• Plants learn to tolerate drought better when you water deeply, applying ½ to 1 inch of water at a time to the roots of the plants instead of sprinkling the plants frequently with a little water.

Cool-Weather-Loving Vegetables

Broccoli, spinach, collards, lettuce, turnip greens (and other leafy greens), leeks, garlic, carrots, beets, parsnips, English peas, potatoes

Warm-Weather-Loving Vegetables

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, okra, beans, lima beans, crowder/Southern peas, sweet potatoes, corn, melons, squash, pumpkins

Consult your local extension agent, garden center, neighbor, or to find out the first and last frost dates for your area.

Additional Resources

• The National Garden Association’s website ( offers general gardening information.

• Visit to locate your local extension agent and find links to gardening information.

Mother Earth News magazine’s website ( contains information about gardening, homesteading, livestock, and “green” energy.

• To learn how to compost and to learn about its benefits, visit

• The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch

Mary Ann has gardened since childhood, and since having children, enjoys having them “help” in the garden while they learn about the natural world. She writes a weekly gardening column in her local paper and blogs about gardening at She lives in South Carolina with her two daughters, whom she home schools, her husband, nine chickens, and two dachshunds.

Copyright, 2012. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, March 2012. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

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