Getting Your Green Thumb:

Planning, Maintaining, and Teaching from the School Garden



“Getting Your Green Thumb” is a free, fun, and practical professional development series for primary and secondary educators. Now in its fourth year, the series covers garden planning, gardening techniques, and curriculum connections. Lessons draw on the Ranch, the Huntington’s urban agriculture research station. Classes include lecture, discussion, hands-on activities, gardening practice and demos on the Ranch, and free materials.

We welcome beginning gardeners as well as those who are looking to take their next gardening step. Participants can choose to take all of the classes or can select the ones that best fit their needs. Teams of educators are encouraged to attend together.

All classes take place at the Huntington on the second Saturday of the month (except May, which is the third Saturday). Each class starts 9:00 AM and runs to noon. Parking is free. The registration deadline is one week before the class date although advance acceptance into the series is preferable.


How to Register


Aug. 10, 2013, Teaching Greenhouse

Planning for the Gardening Year

Working in the classroom and garden, you will learn about vegetable and herb selection and pairing, weeds to look out for, cover crops, and more. Which crops will come in fast? Which are poor bets? How should you prepare for fall rains? What happens at the end of the school year? And all this just in time for Southern California’s prime gardening season!


Sept. 14, 2013, Teaching Greenhouse

Worms, Worms, Worms

Get up close and friendly with one of our invertebrate allies: worms. See the variety of worm composting bins you could use and how to maintain a bin over the long haul. Learn how you can set up one in your classroom and the lessons these little wrigglers can teach your students.

Oct. 12, 2013, Computer Classroom

Intermediate Techniques

Learn how to make your school garden both beautiful and bountiful. First we will discuss factors that affect plant growth such as temperature, day length and soil quality, and apply that to what we see happening in the garden. Then we will learn ways to incorporate native and exotic annuals and perennials in and around the garden.

Nov. 9, 2013, Brody Lab

The Laboratory and The Garden

Pairing our teaching lab with the Ranch, this class will delve into the relationship between flowers and fruits, the difference between fruits and vegetables, and touch up on the living nature of what we grow and eat. We will use the  microscopes to take a closer look at plants.

Dec. 14, 2013, Teaching Greenhouse

From Bare Root to Bearing Fruit

Learn how to select, plant, and care for fruit trees and include ideas for curriculum tie-ins. We will start out learning about the history of various fruits, then move on to how to select and care for trees in Southern California. We will also talk about growing fruit tree in containers, their pests and diseases, and ways to connect this to a life sciences curriculum. Finally, we will eat some delicious fruit and talk about nutrition.


Jan. 11, 2014, Computer Classroom

Gardening at the (Common) Core

The way a garden can inspire students is amazing. Drawing on your school garden, learn how to engage students in writing, reading, and research. How about garden-based poetry? Why not write a research paper on the bug that ate your green beans? Taste the foods of the cultures you are studying. Review curricula and practice lessons in the garden.

Feb. 8, 2014, Teaching Greenhouse

Gardening from the Ground Up

Composting is both a great lesson in recycling and also an excellent way to build healthy garden soil. This class is all about organic soil management. It will cover basic soil science including the roles of pH, soil texture and type and how that affects plants. The class will also cover different methods of composting. We will discuss compost bins and also how to compost without a bin and discuss what methods might work best at your school site.

March 8, 2014, Computer Classroom

Math and Science in the Garden

Learn how a school garden can enliven math and science lessons. From simple arithmetic to statistics, from observation to experimentation, there are numerous lessons that rely on the garden. Review curricula and discuss their application to your classroom as well as practicing a few in the garden.

April 12, 2014, Teaching Greenhouse

Advanced Techniques

Learn techniques that address some of the most challenging situations for school gardens: pests, weeds, and watering. Become good identifying some of the most common insect pests and weeds along with innovative ways to deal with them. We will also examine ways to use water more wisely in the garden, how to handle summer heat, plan for garden care during school vacations and more.

May 17, 2014, Computer Classroom

Seeds are Alive!

Seed saving and seed study are the perfect way to end the school year. Your winter and spring crops should be going to seed so gathering them up gives everyone something to look forward to: planting home-grown seeds in the fall! Math, science, and language arts are all tied in to this sustainable practice.

How to Register

NOTE: All classes are full and we are no longer accepting applications for 2013-14. Please check back later. 


To be considered for participation in any of the classes, a one-time application must be completed. Once accepted, registration for individual classes may be done via email to the course coordinator. Participants may choose to take all the classes or only those that best fit their needs. Class size is limited. Preference for registration will be given to teams of two or more educators from one school site. Registration deadline is one week prior to class start date unless otherwise noted.


Cost and Stipend

Classes are free. Participants will receive a $100 stipend for every three classes completed.


About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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