Plant life cycles: use light-excluding material (eg, a length of old carpet) to clear a bed of weeds and explore: Growing plants (1b); Helping plants grow well (2b); and Plants and animals in their local environment (3b). Explore why some weeds are more persistent than others and gain an understanding of how plants store food efficiently and need light to photosynthesise.
Skills of measuring, counting, calculating, recording, presenting and interpreting results can all be developed. Estimate number of seeds to sow, divide seeds and measure planting distances. Record germination rates using percentages and probability. Take measurements to calculate the effects of light, temperature and water on plants and seeds.
Develop research skills using the internet and other sources of information; distinguishing between fact, fiction and opinion. Language can be explored through the design of literacy trails around the school grounds. Investigate the many colourful stories connected with unusual fruit and vegetable varieties.
Bring social history to life through food studies. In what ways did the expansion of trade and colonisation, industrialisation and political changes affect diets? How might techniques of food production, varieties grown and their availability reflect social changes in Britain? Use produce you have grown to introduce historic events, such as the Irish potato famine.
Sustainability is at the heart of organic gardening. Pupils can study today's modern varieties and research their origins (eg today's cultivated carrot came from Afghanistan). Involve pupils in the design of growing plots: draw plans and maps at a variety of scales. Discuss issues such as how and why people seek to manage environments sustainably and think about how they can get involved.
Free downloadable leaflets for teachers and pupils are available on the HDRA website: www.hdra.org.uk: "Growing from Seed", "Vegetable Gardening" and "Growing in Containers". There are also three science investigations to trial: How does temperature affect germination? What do plants need to grow? What affect does using different soil treatments have on growing plants?