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Colonial America – Tending to the Garden

August 8, 2011
Working together to clear the garden of weeds.

Working together to clear the garden of weeds.

Children in colonial times helped in the garden.  The garden was important for the families survival all winter.  Since we did our activities in the spring, it was a perfect time to have them prepare the garden for planting.  If this is done in the fall, children could prepare a garden area to be planted the following spring.

Colonist didn’t have a wide array of tools. Many tools were adapted from what they had in their environment.  So instead of having everyone bring in garden tools, we found a few heavy sticks that were about 2’ long to use to dig and turn over the ground.  It made the activity more authentic.

Using heavy branches as a hoe to work the soil.

Using heavy branches as a hoe to work the soil.

If you are able to plant the garden, the most common plants were:

  •  cabbage
  •  beans
  •  corn
  •  pumpkins
  •  sage
  •  onions
  •  rosemary
  •  mint

You can begin plants in the classroom with egg cartons.  They work really well because they keep the moisture in so the soil doesn’t get dried out and filter the light so the seeds don’t get burned in the sunlight.

All you need to do is put a little soil in each egg section and let your students put seeds in each section.  Perhaps having every student bring in an empty egg carton so they can plant a variety of seeds.  Have them make a chart to identify what seeds they put into each sections.  For example:

Rosemary      Onion          Corn        Onions        ______           ______

______        ____          ____       ____           ______           ______

Or you could have egg cartons assigned for each seed so when it’s time to move them outside it will be easy to identify and keep all the same plants together.

When the plants are a few inches high, it’s time to transplant them outside putting all the same plants in the same rows. Have your students make signs with popsicle sticks to label the rows.

The group effort has really paid off!

The group effort has really paid off!

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