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Written by Kindra Plumb   

Grow Your Own Garden with the 4-H Gardening Project

Longer days and warmer weather can only mean one thing—spring is truly here! As we all start to anticipate the summer months, 4-H members who are enrolled in the 4-H gardening project are making preparations for their project completion.

The gardening project focuses on activities related to vegetable gardening: planning, planting, experimenting, understanding soils, seeds, insects, plant care, harvesting, processing and exploring careers.

The gardening project is divided into four units, with the lower units designed for younger or less experienced gardeners, while the upper units are for older, more experienced gardeners. Each unit comes with its own manual to help members with their gardening activities.

“See Them Sprout,” or Unit 1, is designed for members ages 8-18. Members will accomplish the following learning experiences in this unit: when, where and what to plant; types of soil; cool and warm season vegetables; soil preparation; rows versus hills; seed preparation; plant parts; garden tools; integrated pest management; when to harvest; and how plants are used.

This unit has 12 activities. It’s recommended that six activities are done in the first year of the project and the remaining six activities are done in the second year of the project.

The first six activities are titled: First You Plan, Plan It, Seeds Up Close, Take Time for TLC, Is it Ready? and Check Out the Veggies. The second six activities are: Second Year Garden, Make It Different, What’s It For?, Gearing Up For Safety, Use it Up and At The Greenhouse.

After a gardening member completes the above activities (usually after two years in the project), they move on to “Let’s Get Growing,” Unit 2. In this unit, members will accomplish the following learning experiences: changing plans to expand, seed varieties, rotating crops, starting seeds indoors, hardening off, plant properties, preventative pest control, specialty harvest, selling the harvest and horticulture careers.

Unit 3, “Take Your Pick,” expands upon the gardening basics that were taught in Units 1 and 2. In Unit 3, members will accomplish the following learning experiences: broadcast planting, herb garden, soil structures and pH, hybrids, pollination, seed damage, animal pests, preservation and food industry careers.

The final unit, “Growing Profits,” is designed for the senior 4-H member, age 14 and older, who has prior gardening experience. In the final gardening unit, members will accomplish the following learning experiences: undercropping/double cropping, space saving, greenhouses, cultivan trials, intensive gardening, biotechnology, hydroponics, diseases and deficiencies, power tools, pesticide safety and botanists and research careers.

To complete the gardening project each year, members present their completed gardening manual and record book to the judge on interview judging day. In addition to the manual and record book, members also complete a display board illustrating a topic investigated during the project year. During interview judging, the project will be evaluated on the quality of information completed in the manual and record book and the quality of the display board.

If you are interested in learning more about the 4-H gardening project, or any of the projects 4-H has to offer, please contact the Phillips County Extension Office at 970-854-3616. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.

 

Holyoke Enterprise April 4, 2013