How Uncle Sam Teaches Gardening to Children

This is the first article in April of the School for Housewives 1904 series published on Apr 4, 1904, and is about teaching children gardening.

School for Housewives – How Uncle Sam Teaches Gardening to Children

Photographs Reproduced by Courtesy Of “Floral Life,” Philadelphia.
Practical Work among Vegetables and Flowers for Public School Scholars

A few years ago the Department of Agriculture hit upon he happy idea of interesting public school children in practical gardening.

The plan was received with enthusiasm by the little circle of thinkers to whom it was first made known.

Here was a simple and pleasurable way of accomplishing a number of good ends. A way to keep the children interested and occupied in the open air and to stimulate their power of observation, at the same time causing forlorn or dilapidated back yards to blossom like the wilderness.

In he beginning the philanthropy was beset by many difficulties. One of the greatest of these was the fact that few teachers knew a pea vine from a pie plant.

Various methods were used to introduce the children to the seeds. In some instances little envelopes containing the latter were distributed to the pupils, with the laconic direction, “Plant.”

It is likely that all of the seeds were planted – but not all of them grew.

One tot carefully covered the envelope with six inches of soil, and eagerly awaited results. Several bricks were removed from the pavement by another youngster, the seeds most carefully distributed upon the earth and the bricks as punctilious returned to their former location.

Since that time civic leagues, woman’s clubs and similar institutions have helped along the good cause by distributing seeds, with directions for planting on the packet.

The results here have been much more satisfactory than by the first method.

The lasting and most valuable results, however, must be obtained through intelligently teaching the subject in the schools. In a short time the public schools of Washington, D.C., hope to be a model in this work for other cities.

The chief of the Bureau of Plant industry of the Department of Agriculture, Dr. E.T. Galloway, realizing the value of well-organized work through the medium of the public schools, placed at the disposal of the Normal School, a workroom, a greenhouse and all material necessary for an elementary course in horticulture. The course is under his careful guidance. Two ??? a ??? during one term is the time allotted to it.

By this method the child receives an addition of ??? to its teaching crops each year, equipped to handle the subject intelligently with children under their immediate care and to give inspiration and ideas to other teachers.

All facts are taught by experiments, the workroom being really a laboratory.

Germination experiments are performed in the spring, showing seed vitality, conditions for planting and depth of planting. Plant propagation by cuttings, budding and grafting are taught. Geraniums scarlet sage, hydrangeas, begonias, ivy are propagated in the fall and grown in the greenhouse during the winter. Cuttings of forsythia and privet for hedges are buried in sand to be ready for planting in the spring. Young apple seedlings are grafted. Bulbs are ??? for winter blooming. This material is used to beautify schoolrooms during the winter and school grounds in the warm weather.

In the spring each student has her home garden in which she applies her learning.

The beautifying of back yards is not the primary object in this course. it comes usually as a result of the effort expended, but the real aim is to cultivate close observation of plant life; to instil a love for plant culture, and by so doing awaken the young student teachers to the ??? influence of plants ins school or home, and to enable them to be an inspiration to others from the fullness of their pleasure in the work. Some of the students prefer to devote their ??? to but one variety of plant, bringing it to a high state of perfection. Sweet peas, poppies and nasturtiums have been prime favorites for such work. Others have remodelled yards after methods of good planting, keeping the centre of the yards in grass and massing the plants in borders. A number of them have had to resort to box gardening, but, whatever the form, i has always brought pleasure with it.

In addition to the work mentioned, the course of instruction calls for planning improvements of school grounds.

A school very much in need of attention is selected. Each student submits a plan for improving its grounds without reducing the playground.

The best plan is accepted and followed.

Marion Harland

OTHER ARTICLES ALSO PUBLISHED…
A Collection of Good Recipes of General Interest
Housewives, Parents and Children Discuss Topics of Mutual Interest – Little Talks with Marion Harland
Starching – For Young Housekeepers

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