Garden Bed Layout Garden Bed Layout Garden Bed 1 Garden Bed 2 Garden Bed 3 Garden Bed 4 Garden Bed 5 Garden Bed 6 Garden Bed 7 Garden Bed 8 Garden Bed 9 Garden Bed 10 Garden Herbs Garden Toolbox

Bed 1

Carrots

It’s hard to go wrong with the carrot. Such a tiny seed! Such a succulent treat! Plant a few rows in early summer so that they’re ready when students return to school in the fall. Students are often so anxious to get to the orange root that they accidentally rip off the top before pulling it out of the ground. Show them how to use a garden fork to loosen the soil first, and you will make fast friends.

  • Wheat
  • Zinnia
  • Tithonia
  • Sunflower
  • Hyacinth Bean
  • Bachelor’s Button
  • Amaranth

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Bed 2

Wheat

The bedrock of Western civilization, wheat spends most of its life looking like your neighbor’s un-mown lawn. Plant in mid-May so that it comes ready for the beginning of school. Then, give students the opportunity to harvest, thresh, and winnow it.

Zinnia

Zinnia is another great cut flower for bouquets and is known to attract beneficial insects.

Tithonia

Tithonia, or Mexican Sunflower, makes a great cut flower for a bouquet. Even better, it attracts a variety of butterflies, particularly the Tiger Swallowtail. It grows over 6’ tall with dozens of 4” blooms all around.

Sunflower

Sunflowers attract beneficial insects, grow to gargantuan heights, and have edible seeds! If birds are getting to your sunflowers before you do, slip some panty hose over the head to protect the seeds. Recommended: ‘Mammoth Grey Stripe’

Hyacinth Bean

The color contrast of a purple hyacinth bean twining around a yellow sunflower makes a great photo.

Bachelor’s Button

Bachelor’s buttons, also known as cornflowers, attract beneficial insects to the garden by the gallon. Their fuzzy, dart-like seeds germinate right in the garden when direct seeded in the cooler temperatures of early May. Bachelor’s buttons are known to have edible flowers, but they tend to have the texture of tissue paper.

Amaranth

The deep red, almost purple leaves, stem, and seed stalk of this Mexican native stands out in the garden. It’s the plant that most passersby ask about. We always tell curious inquirers that the leaves of the young plant are edible, but that the seeds are where the real flavor pops. You can also grind the magenta seed husks into a paste for use as dye. Recommended: ‘Hopi Red Dye’

  • Ground Cherry

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Bed 3

Ground Cherry

Ground Cherry, Husk Cherry, Cape Gooseberry… these are all names for the most popular snack that can’t be bought at the store. After foraging for them on the ground around the plant, remove the papery husk and pop the golden yellow fruit into your mouth. It’s related to the tomato but tastes more like a cross between a pineapple and a kiwi. Good thing these plants are prolific!

  • Sweet Potato

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Bed 4

Sweet Potato

The sweet potato is more closely related to the morning glory than a standard potato. Students love finding the central crown of the plant in the fall and then digging up the tangle of edible roots.

  • Nasturtium
  • Basil
  • Cherry Tomato

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Bed 5

Nasturtium

Who knew flowers were edible! Nasturtium makes a colorful, peppery addition to any salad.

Basil

Basil complements the tomato both in the garden and in the kitchen. As a companion plant, it drives away some tomato pests. As a culinary element, it adds a spicy complexity to the tomato.

Cherry Tomato

Grow cherry tomatoes. They are more prolific than slicing tomatoes, they are tolerant of cool summer temperatures (which usually reduce tomato yield), and they are sweeter than standard tomatoes. Kids who think they hate tomatoes can be found hiding behind a bush inhaling ‘Sun Gold,’ tomatoes. Choose an open-pollinated variety such as ‘Honeydrop,’ or ‘Black Cherry’ to make fall seed-saving lessons possible.

  • Mulch
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Broccoli (Fall)
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage

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Bed 6

Mulch

Mulch retains moisture in the soil, suppresses weeds, mitigates erosion, and adds organic matter back to the soil as it decomposes. Good mulch materials include straw, leaf mold (leaves that have decomposed over two winters), grass clippings, newspaper, cardboard, and burlap. Wood chips don’t decompose quickly enough to be useful for annual crops. Come next spring, their presence complicates the tilling of the soil.

Cilantro

The leaves of this cool-season crop are great for making salsa or for sprinkling (with lime) atop a roasted sweet potato. As the season progresses its seed stalk will start performing and you’ll get the highly aromatic seeds known to chefs as coriander.

Dill

This one’s handy to have around for its yellow flower heads (which picklers love) and because it’s a host plant to a few different butterfly larvae, particularly the Black Swallowtail.

Broccoli (Fall)

‘Piracicaba’ is the fall broccoli par excellence. It doesn’t create much of a central head, but the side shoots are prolific and very sweet. Make sure it’s near the edge of the bed so that students have easy access to its irresistible florets. Encourage grazing!

Kale

Kale is rich in Vitamin A and even provides some iron. As an alternative to coleslaw, make a kale-beet salad. Grate the beets, finely slice the kale, and toss it together in a honey mustard dressing made up of olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt. Recommended: ‘Lacinato’

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is delicious roasted, but many schools don’t have the capacity to roast it on site. Instead, try pickling this broccoli relative as you would beets—in a salty brine at room temperature for two weeks. The already outrageous amount of Vitamin C found in cauliflower will go through the roof.

Cabbage

Cabbage and the nearby carrots can be combined to make a delightfully sweet coleslaw.

Bed 7

Popcorn

We’ve experimented with a number of different types of corn in the three sisters system. Sweet corn tastes delicious, but there’s only a very short window when it’s at its peak. Popcorn is far more forgiving. It will stand in the field for a few weeks after it reaches maturity. It also provides a great lesson on the three different types of corn: flint, dent, and sweet. Kids and unsuspecting thieves are both equally surprised to learn of the difference. Be sure to choose a tall variety so that the beans don’t choke it out. Recommended: ‘Pennsylvania Dutch Butter’

  • Strawflower
  • Marigold
  • Parsley
  • Pepper

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Bed 8

Strawflower

Strawflower is a favorite with kids for its crinkly flowers. It’s also an everlasting, so it keeps its color when it dries, brightening up the bleakest mid-winter.

Marigold

Signet marigolds make small edible flowers with a citrusy scent.

Parsley

Like dill, parsley is a host plant to several different butterfly larvae. It’s great for making tabbouleh and gazpacho. It’s also great for freshening your breath! Flat leaf parsley, as opposed to curly, is preferred by most chefs.

Pepper

Few non-gardeners are aware that a green pepper is just a red pepper that’s been picked before it’s ripe. ‘Jimmy Nardello’ is great because it can be strung on a ristra as you would a cayenne pepper, but it’s not at all piquant or spicy. After drying it, fry it and salt it for a savory treat.

Bed 9

Popcorn

We’ve experimented with a number of different types of corn in the three sisters system. Sweet corn tastes delicious, but there’s only a very short window when it’s at its peak. Popcorn is far more forgiving. It will stand in the field for a few weeks after it reaches maturity. It also provides a great lesson on the three different types of corn: flint, dent, and sweet. Kids and unsuspecting thieves are both equally surprised to learn of the difference. Be sure to choose a tall variety so that the beans don’t choke it out. Recommended: ‘Pennsylvania Dutch Butter’

  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Leek
  • Fingerling Potato

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Bed 10

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum flowers by late April and keeps its honey-scented flowers until after the first frost. It attracts beneficial insects by the hundred, so getting it into the garden early provides both fodder for a great lesson on insect ID, and consistent protection for the rest of the garden.

Leek

Leeks are the “onion” of choice for school gardens. Trying to grow an onion can be frustrating because it usually needs to be harvested just before school starts, robbing kids of the experience. Leeks, though, can stand in the field until Thanksgiving (and beyond). Use it to make a creamy potato leek soup! Recommended: ‘King Richard’

Fingerling Potato

Judging by the exclamations you hear on harvest day, you’d think every last kid had struck oil. Truly, the humble potato is the bedrock of civilizations. It’s the pride of Peru, the intimate of the Irish. Kids see its value immediately, especially if its purple! Fingerling potatoes are smaller than the supermarket standard, but they produce more potatoes per plant. Recommended: ‘Purple Peruvian’

  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Chives

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Herbs

Sage

The nectar of spring sage flowers is a favorite of both pollinating bees and schoolyard kids. The leaves make a great addition to your roasted butternut squash.

Thyme

Thyme flowers in April and is a favorite of many beneficial insects. Its stems make a great addition to chowders and soups.

Mint

This perennial is great for nibbling in the garden. It also makes a soothing cup of tea for a blustery fall day. Beware that it spreads rapidly and can take over a bed within a few years.

Chives

This stalwart perennial provides a light oniony flavor to a variety of dishes, especially spring frittatas. The flowers are edible if you like to chew on tissue paper.

Toolbox

Tools

24 Garden Gloves
24 Transplanter Trowels
2 Large Watering Cans
8 Small Watering Can (1L)
8 Pruning Shears
1 Harvest Knife
2 Garden Spades
4 Garden Forks
4 Garden Claws
2 Bow Rakes
1 Stirrup Hoe
1 Warren Hoe
2 Wire Brushes
4 Tub Trugs (3.5 gal)
4 Buckets
8 Yardsticks
5 Stakes (rebar)
1 Post Driver (red)
1 Rubber Mallet
1 Log Book & Cover
1 Hose
1 Shower Nozzle & Valve
1 Max/Min Thermometer
1 Rain Gauge

Instructions: Click on the beds above to view individual bed details.