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You Can Grow It: School garden club helps students grow a fun and healthy hobby

Meridian students learn to garden by planting succulents.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — These students are learning how to plant succulent planters as part of their gardening class at school.

No matter how old you might be, gardening is a lot of fun. So it’s great to see kids developing a love of gardening at a young age.

Garden master Jim Duthie takes us on a visit to a Treasure Valley elementary school’s garden club, where kids are not only learning about plants and how to care for them, but they’re also growing a healthy and fun hobby that they’ll enjoy for the rest of their lives.

It’s four o’clock, and school has just ended for the day. But the fun is just beginning for these students, because this is when their school garden club meets. And today, they’re doing something special.

Gardening isn’t always about what you plant. It’s about having fun while you’re planting, like these kids are learning at Chief Joseph Elementary School in Meridian, planting succulents.

Succulents are a good thing for beginning gardeners to start with, since they don’t require very much care, and use very little water.

The students chose their own containers, and some of them even painted the containers themselves. Each student contributed a little of their own money towards the project, along with help from the school PTO.  Edwards Greenhouses donated much of the planting materials, and 36th Street Garden Center in Boise generously donated a few trays of succulent plants.

Emily Anglin, of 36th Street Garden Center, even came along to help show the kids how to plant them.

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“So what’s really neat about these is they require less water," said Anglin. "So they kind of work like a camel. They hold their moisture in their leaves here, and then they just use it as needed.”

The kids line up to get some gravel and horticultural charcoal to line the bottom of their containers...

“If you accidentally water them too much, this will help so they can drain a little bit. You don’t’ want to over-water your succulents,” said Anglin.

Then they each select a couple of succulents for their planters. Echeveria, jade plants, aloe vera, and others.

After a few tips on how to design and plant their containers, the planting, and the fun begins.  And with some decorative rocks and figurines, the kids’ own creativity and imaginations begin to run wild.

“This is my pig that I chose to put in my succulents,” said garden club member Rowan.

“I think because I like black and red, and I noticed the pig is black, so I thought maybe pretty cool if the succulents were close to the pig, and so it looks like the pig was laying down in the sand. And then the flowers can be like the pig’s in a meadow or something. And then like even a different land where there’s weird plants and stuff.”

“I was thinking, since I love nature, I was thinking like a big pond around with lots of rocks on it,” said garden club member Heidi.

After all, blue is Heidi’s favorite color. And she even nestled a little deer among the plants. and being part of the garden club is important to her.

“Well, for me, I think it’s really important because it can let kids learn more about plants and how to plant them, because some kids don’t know how to plant, and they could just plant some,” Heidi said.

"This is a great group of kids. We have anywhere from second graders to fifth graders,” said 

“Each year they have to apply to join it," said garden club advisor Linda Conry.  "They have to write an essay as to why they should be in the garden club, and then they decide what we’re going to put in the garden. And during the summer we donate some of the vegetables to the food bank. So it kind of shows them the importance of growing the food and then sharing it with everybody.”

And the final creations are really living works of art, from the containers, to the plants, to the design and decorating. sharing and working together, these kids have also learned another important thing about gardening.

Those succulent planters will be displayed at the school’s art walk coming up in a few weeks. A larger succulent planter will be raffled off, and the funds raised will go towards a special bench to be installed in the school garden.

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