School garden – Rain barrels

Q: My daughter’s school is trying to establish a community garden. Are rain barrels an option for a school building?

A: Rain barrels are perfectly suited for a school once you get permission to cut into the gutters or drain system to attach a filler for the barrels. However, I do not recommend using the water on edible plants, due to the collection of dirt and dust on a flat school roof. Remember that edibles can be watered with no restrictions. Water with a hose, using mulch, of course, to minimize water loss. You might still have time to plant collards and onion bulbs in the garden. At this time of year you can also plant parsley and pansies, plus ornamental cabbage, kale and chard. Next March plant edible cabbage, carrots, spinach, lettuce and radishes. Since school is out by late May and few vegetables mature that early, I don’t recommend planting summer vegetables unless you just want the kids to see what the plants look like. Instead, plant herbs in April and challenge your students to identify them by smell in May.

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