8 Best Hacks for Homeschool Gardening

Now that it’s warming up outside, you may be thinking about starting to do a little homeschool gardening. If you’ve been interested in gardening as part of your summer learning, I want to encourage you that it’s well worth the time and money you will invest.

The educational opportunities in and of themselves are reason enough, but gardening also has many other benefits. Your family will naturally eat more healthy foods, and you will probably also save a little money on your grocery bill.

Benefits of Homeschool Gardening

Besides the obvious benefit of your child learning about plants and plant growth, homeschool gardens:

  • Cultivate and offer experience for life lessons such as patience, nurturing and faithfulness, life cycle,  reaping what you sow, and much more!
  • Teach in-context science lessons such as PH levels, photosynthesis, etc.
  • Teach applied mathematics such as calculating plant spacing using a square foot method or quantifying harvest and yield.
  • Enhance your homeschool day by offering constructive break time to tend the garden.
  • Add valuable learning time and “something constructive to do” during the summer months even if you do not homeschool through the summer.
  • Enhance your health and offer healthy foods grown organically in your own backyard; with success, it can supplement your food supply.
  • Offer unlimited science lessons and experiments for botany.
  • Multiply your unit study and field study opportunities for various gardening and agriculture topics.
  • Increase possible field trip ideas to complement your learning.
  • Enhance biography studies on various leaders in agriculture and plant science such as George Washington Carver or Gregor Mendel (an Austrian monk who discovered the basics of genetics through his garden experiments).
  • Offer plenty of opportunities for problem-solving. Kids will have to figure out how to keep rabbits out or how to protect tomatoes from an unexpected late frost. Slow your lifestyle pace down offering time for peaceful reflection.
  • Offer the perfect observation study on the environment or nature. There is no better way to understand your environment and learn about animals and their behaviors in your own backyard than to have and tend a garden. You can study everything about your little ecosystem-weather, insects, food chains, and more!
Gardening gives you an excellent opportunity to get up close to all kinds of creatures in your backyard ecosystem. Kids will learn what insects are good or bad for the garden. | Hip Homeschool Moms
Earthworms and ladybugs are a gardener’s best friends. Your child will learn about these good critters as well as the ones that can destroy your garden such as black swallowtail caterpillars and “cabbage moth” larvae.

Notice I added tend to the last reason. That’s because getting to know your backyard ecosystem takes time. It will require faithful dedication and consistency. During the course of at least one year, seeing all the seasonal changes, your child will get the best understanding of the plants and animals in your neighborhood.

Weather study is also a factor because a good gardener will have to watch the weather forecast! Understanding storms, rain, drought, and more (and how they will affect your plants), will enable your homeschool garden to grow to completion.

Bee on my tomatillos last year. | Hip Homeschool Moms
Though they didn’t mature fast enough last year ( I started them from seed) the bees on my tomatillos reminded me of the importance of my labor.

Hacks for Starting a Homeschool Garden

You also need to know what kind of homeschool garden you want to have and then build the structures you’ll need to have it.

Some Types of Homeschool Gardens

  1. Herb/Kitchen Garden (great for small spaces)
  2. Square Foot Garden
  3. Faith/Prayer Gardens
  4. Community Gardens
  5. Box or Container Gardens
  6. Raised Bed Gardens
  7. Vegetable Gardens
  8. Rose and Flower Gardens (Horticulture)
  9. An Experimental Garden
  10. Traditional Plot /Row Garden

This hack coincides with the above one. The type of garden you decide on will depend on what your purpose and goals for gardening are. Here are a few decisions you need to make:

  • Do you wish to have food grown that you will use in your kitchen?
  • Are you focused on a prayer garden and want to plant flowers and plants to create a peaceful environment?
  • Are you going to use taxonomy to teach your child how to categorize plants the way scientists do?
  • Do you want to teach your children all about math in the garden?

Decide your purpose and then begin planning your garden. Include your children in the planning process as this can be an important part of their education.

This is a practical gardening hack that can make a huge difference in how healthy your plants are and how long your garden lasts.

Have a raised box that you fill with your own soil mix. This will significantly reduce the majority of weeds and problems with crops not thriving due to malnutrition.

Some aspiring gardeners choose to compost, which can be a terrific way to reuse kitchen scraps to make a healthier garden. With a compost bin, pretty much anyone can start doing their own outdoor composting.

If you don’t have time to compost, you still might want to make your own gardening soil mix.

Though they didn’t mature fast enough last year ( I started them from seed) the bees on my tomatillos reminded me of the importance of my labor.

It’s a great learning experience to start seeds indoors in order to view the germination process and keep a closer eye on things, so if this is your goal for a homeschool garden, go for it.

At the same time, in terms of growing crops to harvest, I have found it is not worth the time. (The seeds rarely make it because of lack of sun and the “hardening off process”- weatherizing plants that have been raised indoors is difficult.)  

Therefore, sowing seeds right outdoors in the ground is the best course of action if your main purpose for gardening is having vegetables for your kitchen (unless you have a greenhouse). After that, sunlight and watering faithfully are the second most important factors once things get planted.

If you give your plants a good place to grow to begin with, it optimizes your chances of success right from the get-go.

Starting with small plants will save you time and help you get a jump start for faster results if desired. I recommend starting with young plants for tomatoes, peppers, cabbage family plants, eggplant, and strawberries, and onion sets for onions.

For most other plants, I begin them from seed to save money. Just be sure to start them at the right time. (Usually, packets have such information on them. You can also find this information online as long as you know your planting zone.)

A good garden takes at least five years to get established. Start with one thing and build on it each year. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember that you can rotate crops each year and plant different things in different places. (I use the square foot method, which makes this automatic.)

More than anything, gardens need care, so be prepared to start small and plant only what you can nurture long-term. The biggest mistake people make is planting more than they can tend. They get overwhelmed mid-summer and give up.  

Gardens start so very small and become so very big. It’s part of the lesson to see something with such a small start grow into something so great. So don’t overplant.

I guess homeschoolers do have homework after all. Moms are busy and we plan and do so very much. Please don’t get overwhelmed, but do the work. Read a little, and make it as enjoyable as you can. Let your kids join in on this and it can be part of their homework, too!

When you’re doing your homework, here are a few considerations:

Considerations for Homeschool Gardening

What type of garden you plan to have will be a factor in the location of your garden. If your intent is to grow food, then your garden must be located where it will receive eight hours of sunlight.

Take into consideration that in early spring most trees don’t yet have leaves. You must think about where the shade will be at different times of the year and of the day.

For instance, my garden boxes are in the middle of my yard. This is not ideal for mowing or looks, but because my priority is success and food on the table (not looks), I can live with a box in the middle of the garden as I can guarantee proper sunlight for my food-bearing plants.

Take the needs of each of your plants into consideration when planning your garden. Consider each of these factors when you plan:

  • Do they need more shade or sun?
  • How much spacing is needed? (depth as well as space between)
  • What’s the best location for my plants?
  • When is the best time to plant? Plant for your zone and the plant’s needs. For example, lettuce and cabbage can be planted very early; they like it cool. But you must wait till after the last frost for tomatoes and basil.
  • Should I plant Heirloom or non-heirloom seeds? 

Gardening as a family can give you the opportunity to teach your kids so many things, including diligence, faithfulness, and deeper truths about the grace and provision of a loving God. (If I’m totally honest, it can teach us moms those things, too!)

In addition to the practical things learned through gardening, you can connect the practice with so many other things, and the links below offer some printables, studies, lessons, and more to help you do just that! (And a terrific book you might enjoy is God of the Garden by Andrew Peterson.)

So, have fun learning together and stoking your kids’ curiosity as they watch the little miracle of growing things in your own backyard!

gardening hacks

A successful homeschool garden not only enhances your learning but can supplement your food supply and reduce grocery expenses no to mention adding healthy organically grown food to your table. | Hip Homeschool Moms

Lessons, Printables, and Unit Studies for Homeschool Gardening

What Homeschool Gardening Hacks Do You Have?

Share with me any garden ideas you have for this year. How do you get your kids involved? If you don’t have a homeschool garden yet, what is holding you back?

Featured Image by Photo by Maggie at Pexels

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  1. I think you have many good ideas for gardening and homeschool gardens. One type of garden that my family has planted is the butterfly/hummingbird garden. We planted it where we can see it from the front window and it has brought much joy to all of our lives. We have learned many, many things about butterflies, caterpillars, chrysalids, wasps (which hunt caterpillars for food for their young), butterfly host plants, and nectar plants for both hummingbirds and butterflies.

  2. Thank you for all this wonderful information and the lovely resources 🙂 We have been adding gardening to our summer and fall curriculum since the beginning of homeschooling, about 7 years ago! I have regretted nothing from it because, although I didn’t realize everything my children were getting from gardening alongside me at the beginning, I am seeing it now. Being a part of 4-H now and my children getting excited to grow what they are going to enter at fair is beyond exciting.! 🙂
    – Not to mention that at 9 and 11 they are beyond ready to start planting and planning their own part of the garden!!! 🙂 –
    This year they will be starting from seeds all the way up! I’m excited and will be using quite a few of the resources you shared here! Thank you again Stephanie 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Thank you for this wonderfully thorough post about homeschool gardening <3 The way that you have broken down each aspect that people should make sure and consider is great! If the truth be known, I wish I had read something like this before starting gardening and including it with homeschool lessons!
    I say that because there have been many times that I had this big vision for that year's garden. I have purchased the plants and/or seeds and away I go! Lol! I then find out that I did not properly plan the spacing of the plants, or that there are certain plants that do better when planted together and so on. The positive of this plant first and think later is that my children have a broader knowledge going forward, into the next year, of what to do and what we should plant the following year. The knowledge gained from my mistakes have made for successes <3
    This year we were finally able to plan our garden for the year and my children picked most of the plants! It helps because of all my children have learned and they will be able to use the plants that they grow for their submission to 4-H this year! That is a win-win, along with the knowledge they are gaining that they will use into adulthood. My children have a firm understanding of where their food comes from and what they need to do to grow that food! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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