Use art projects and techniques to teach beginning vegetable gardeners.

How to Use Art to Teach About a Vegetable Garden

by Janet Beal

Over the centuries, gardens have inspired artists. Landscape designers, architects and home gardeners traditionally reach for pencil and paper before they pick up other tools. Many art forms, from painting to embroidery, celebrate the variety and beauty of vegetable and flower gardens. You can use art as a teaching resource at every phase of vegetable gardening. However you use it, art makes your garden and gardeners grow.

1. Planning Projects for Young Children

You don't have to draw well to use art as a garden planning tool. Give children catalog pictures, paste and large brown-paper garden plot. Whether they make a free-form collage or set out rows, they become familiar with the names and appearance of vegetables. Matching collage pictures with seed packet pictures makes the garden plan more real, especially if you start seeds indoors. Saving the empty packets lets your young gardener paste up another brown-paper garden, showing the location of the planted vegetable seeds and seedlings.

2. Planning Projects for Older Children

Older children or adults may prefer to draw a more realistic plan or create a visual code, like that of landscape designers who represent tree tops with circles. Creating a visual code challenges the code-builder to figure out a vegetable plant's most distinctive characteristics, whether it is a leaf shape or fruit color. A youngster who likes building can learn about gardening by making an elevation drawing, combining art and math. Making an elevation drawing is a new way to learn about arranging vegetable plants so they all get adequate sun.

3. Ongoing Art for Young Children

Younger children seldom need much stimulus to record experiences in art. One way to encourage interest in the garden is to make a visual record that pairs your children's drawings throughout the season with snapshots. Your children will learn a lot about how plants change as they grow. Use lumber scraps and child-safe acrylic paints to make tools that measure garden activity. Paint row-marking sticks, striped by inches, so children can measure how tall vegetables get. Paint a stick to hold a rain gauge and a small T-frame for a scarecrow, whirligig or wind-sock to keep wildlife visitors out of the garden.

4. Ongoing Art for Older Children and Adults

Before photography, botanical drawings were the only visual record botanists had to learn about new plants. A good botanical drawing include the seeds, stems, fruits and roots of a plant. Observing a vegetable plant in all its growth phases and cutting open seed pods, flowers or berries to show how they are constructed can teach gardeners a lot about how plants work.

5. Making Garden Books

Garden books keep a record of a season, a garden design or the evolution of a beginning gardener. Making book pages by sandwiching vegetable plant leaves and flowers between sheets of clear contact paper lets beginners study leaf shapes and flower forms. Pairing drawings with photos lets you create a record from early plan drawings through harvest and can be useful when you start making next year's plan. For a vegetable garden, consider adding recipes that used your own vegetables for a full-season memory book.

Photo Credits

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