Make a game out of pulling weeds! Be creative about addressing kids and getting them to do garden chores. Kids will happily weed if the task is proposed as a search-and-destroy mission for the "weed of the week". Show students the "weed of the week" and see how many they can find.
Example: See which team can pull the biggest pile of weeds.
Children often dont know the difference between the weeds and the good plants. Make weeding easier for the kids by showing them pictures or examples of the weeds they are going to pull that day.
Example: Today we are going to pull all of the dandelions. You might consider making a photocopy booklet of common weeds for your garden site to which the children can refer. Or, one class can create a common weeds flip book for other classes to use.
Assign classrooms to areas of the garden. By getting children involved from the beginning (with planting the seeds or plants), they will feel like they have ownership of the garden. This will depend on what type of garden you have and how many classes are involved.
Example: Ms. Johnsons class plants the bean teepee area; therefore, they are responsible for pulling weeds, watering, and harvesting that area of the garden and Mr. Jacksons class is responsible for planting and maintaining the herb bed.
Tip: At many sites, each class has their own garden plot within the overall school garden for which they have complete responsibility, and there may be joint common areas as well. The maintenance plan in these instances might only need to address common areas and maintenance during holidays and summer months. Create a plan that works for your site, conditions, and users.
In spring, before school is out for the summer, have families sign up to adopt the garden for one week during the summer. This way, the responsibility does not fall on one person or family.
Example: During Week One the Ramirez family is responsible for watering, weeding, and harvesting the garden.
Tip: If possible, have two (2) families assigned for each week, so that the garden will be maintained even if one family is not able to fulfill their obligation. In hot summer months, a week without maintenance, especially water, can be the death of a garden!
Divide classrooms into teams and rotate teams through different garden tasks.
Example: Rotations might be watering, weeding, harvesting, or cultivating.