It struck me that this sub-irrigated portable mini garden made from recycled kitty litter buckets had a colorful and playful quality and thought it would make a neat kids garden.
We have thousands of schools across the country that do not have school gardens. What they do have in abundance however is concrete, kids, and art and science teachers.
Working with sub-irrigated planters (SIPs) like these who knows the creative designs that would come out of the minds of art and science teachers working together? These SIPs are science based but in my view have play dough and finger paint qualities.
We could easily have very low cost but highly productive school gardens like this in every public, private and day care school in America. They would go a long way in solving our obesity, poor nutrition and hunger problems.
Sub-irrigated planters (SIPs) also teach some good science and simple technology. In my experience, there is as much or more STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in gardens created from SIPs than there is in traditional dirt gardening. These DIY SIPs also teach recycling, and respect for the environment by saving water and eliminating runoff.
To enhance plant science learning, it would be an easy matter to make clear walls on one side of some of the planters so that students could see the root system and capillary action at work. This could be done quite easily with clear Plexiglas and an adhesive like Goop. Drug store type hydrogen peroxide would take care of any algae growth.
Another advantage of portable micro gardens is that the SIP components can go home with kids over the summer. A rules-based SIP “adoption” program solves the problem of summer recess maintenance and provides even more student learning opportunity. Kids can learn valuable personal self-sufficiency skills by growing food at home during summer vacation.
What we need to make this happen are mainstream parents who are not dirt gardening ideologues to speak up. Currently we have too many misguided school administrators, teachers and gardening parents who think that “garden” and “growing” are synonyms for dirt.
Many of them are hooked into thinking that grandiose greenhouse projects costing as much as $2 million dollars are necessary. For example, think Edible Schoolyards and Alice Waters. Expensive projects like these are a superfluous luxury in a down economy, with rising food prices and so many people unemployed.
The real culprit behind this dilemma is our broken horticultural education system led largely by the USDA Extension Program and urban botanical gardens. I rarely find progressive information about modern food production methods from any of these institutions. Their comfort zone seems to be from a prior century when we were a rural society and all we knew was dirt farming and gardening.
Those days are gone. We will continue to become increasingly urbanized with an even greater need for technology based food production. It is time to move forward not backwards to a bygone time of Victory Gardens in the dirt.
Finally, if your kids school won't support a garden like this make one at home. It's easy to do. If you have questions, I'll be happy to help. Comment or email me at urbangreenscaper [AT] gmail.com
Lao Tzu - "Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him For a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him For a Lifetime"
This morning I shot a quick video showing how well my tomatoes and peppers are doing in this years batch of self watering containers. Near the end of the video I show how easy it is to fill the water reservoir that does NOT require a PVC or copper tube in order to add more water.