As summer quickly approaches, now is the time to finalize summer plans for your school garden. First, your school garden team should decide if you want to continue growing during the summer months. After all the hard work you’ve put into the garden throughout the year, it may be hard to think about not growing delicious summer produce, but don’t feel obligated to do so.
Summer can be a great time to give the soil a rest and plant a cover crop. Cover crops add nutrients and organic matter to the soil, while acting like mulch to suppress weeds. For more details, check out these resources about the best summer cover crops and tips for cover crops in school gardens. If you don’t want to plant a cover crop, you can simply pull all remaining plants at the end of the school year, cover the garden with mulch, plastic, etc. and uncover the garden in the fall. Due to Georgia’s long growing season, you’ll still have plenty of time to plant a fall crop in August or September and harvest before winter (see our handy-dandy school garden planting and harvesting calendars). If you don’t already have a plan in place for maintaining your garden this summer, cover cropping or covering your garden may a great option for your school’s garden.
However, if your school garden team is determined to keep the garden active throughout the summer, there are a plethora of resources available for how to maintain a summer school garden (see below). To start your summer garden planning, you need to answer two main questions:
- Who will maintain the garden?
- What will happen to the produce after it is harvested?
The resources listed at the end of this blog provide in-depth explanations of various models for summer garden maintenance, but we’ve pulled out a few of our favorite ideas. Each of these models requires various levels of oversight, coordination, and funding, so keep this in consideration as you develop your plan. Make sure to talk with your schools’ summer maintenance/facility team to explain your summer garden plans and consider putting up signage in the garden to explain what is growing, who is managing the garden, and what will happen to the harvested produce.
Who will maintain the garden?
- Summer programs, like summer camps or summer school classes, handle basic garden maintenance
- Lead volunteers support specific projects throughout the summer (e.g. dedicated watering volunteer)
- Parents, teachers, neighbors, etc. adopt a garden bed for the summer and are fully responsible for maintaining their bed (and enjoying its produce!)
- Dedicated garden coordinator for all garden management
What will happen to the produce after harvested?
- Consumed by summer garden volunteers
- Incorporated into summer meals programs or summer camp meals and snacks
- Donated to local food banks
- Harvested by neighbors or nearby community members
Share your successful summer garden management
Resources for summer school garden management: