Hi, I’m writing because the Parent Council at my childrens’ school would like to enhance our gardening options. Currently, we have garden beds in the front of the school along the walkway, as well as four trough planters at the side of the school in the playground. We may be able to expand our front of the school garden, as well. There is a flagpole surrounded by grass on the west side of the building. The school is mostly north facing with the troughs on the west side of the school. The school is located near the Eglinton flats. The front of the school is also shaded by some large trees. I would really like some suggestions of native flowers we could grow in the front of the school. Ideally, perennial and low maintenance. It would also be nice if the kids were able to grow the plants from seeds in their classrooms. As for the troughs, we are looking for suggestions of food crops that could help teach food sovereignty. We were thinking about native wild strawberries in one tough. I know one of the difficulties last year was watering the toughs over the summer months, so maybe edibles that are very hardy. Although, we are going to try and better organize a watering committee this year. We would greatly appreciate your input. Thanks, Candace.
Thank you for reaching out to Toronto Master Gardeners about your school plantings.
This link from the City of Toronto has excellent suggestions for native plants suitable for shade and nurseries where you can find them.
Ontario Nature has good tips and a step-by-step process on how to grow native plants from seed.
Food crops that produce fruit, such as tomatoes and zucchini, require 6+ hours of direct sunlight/day and consistent watering through the summer months. I suggest planting crops that mature quickly, such as radish, and which don’t need a lot of sunlight, like lettuces and kale. These are easy to start from seed indoors and the students can have the opportunity to reap their harvest before leaving for summer holidays. Seeds and supplies are readily available at this time. See here for veg suggestions and planting technique: Grow Veg. Perennial herbs like chives and chocolate or pineapple mint are fragrant and fun (sink or grow in a pot so they won’t overtake the beds).
When your watering system is set up things that mature in the fall, like tiny or medium size pumpkins, will be fun for the children to harvest.