Lifelong Learning:

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How to garden in February

You might find it hard to imagine a garden this time of year, when all you see is snow, ice and frozen everything.  Diving into a seed catalogue is an inexpensive way to experience a bit of summer.

Planning a garden is a perfect way to do family literacy activities that the whole family-from toddlers to elders-can learn from and enjoy.  Planning a garden can involve reading, using numbers, making diagrams, using a computer, learning new words, doing research, organizing thoughts, using your imagination, and of course having fun.  Here are some ideas to get you and your family started.
 

  • Draw a picture of the garden you want to have, the garden of your dreams, or even a fantasy garden with plants no one has ever heard of.  Let everyone in the family create their own garden on paper, and then describe them to each other.
  • Look at a seed catalogue together.  They usually arrange vegetables in alphabetical order.  List the vegetables you might like to try for the first time and the family favourites.
  • Using the seed catalogue or website, find out what the seeds cost for each vegetable on your list.  Write down the prices and then add them together.  Decide how much you want to spend on your garden. 
  • Cut out photos of vegetables and flowers from the seed catalogues or from magazines.  Use them to make a collage.  Add words or sentences to the collage to describe your garden.
  • Plan your garden space.  Will you be using a plot, one or more raised beds, planters or pots?  Measure the space you have for growing vegetables, then figure out the area you will have for planting. 
  • How much space do different plants need?  What other conditions do the vegetables need to grow well?  How will this affect what you plant where?  Do some research using garden books, seed catalogues or gardening websites to learn about growing the vegetables on your list. 
  • Draw your garden space to scale on a large piece of paper.  Cut out photos, draw pictures or make labels of the vegetables you want to grow.  Stick them on to the garden diagram where you might plant them.  As you learn more about the plants you want to grow, you may need to move them around on your garden mural.
  • If you've never grown a garden, do you know someone in your community who has?  Ask them for advice.  Most gardeners are happy to share what they know.
  • Start a gardening club at your school or community recreation centre.  Involve all ages.  If you want a community garden, you might want to begin planning now. 
  • Read books about gardens and gardening.  There are many books for all ages, including children's stories, and how-to books for adults and children.  Check at your local library. 


In an upcoming blog, we’ll share our list of books on gardens.  Planning a garden can take you down all kinds of learning paths, so dig in! 

Here are a few helpful sources of information.

Seed catalogues

You can order a catalogue by phone or on the website. 


Growing food in the north


-        Marianne Bromley

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NWT Literacy Council © 2014