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The Neighborhood Gardener –
Back-to-School (Gardens) Shopping List

It's time for kids to go back to school, which also means it's time for teachers to start thinking about their school gardens.  You can help a local teacher and school garden by purchasing a few things on their school garden shopping list. 

School & Office Supplies

  • Pens or permanent markers: for labeling plant markers, spray bottles, seed packets, etc.
  • Graph paper: for laying out fall or spring garden plans
  • Ruler: for straight boxes and rows on the garden plan
  • Notebooks: the small pocket-sized ones are great for taking notes while in the garden or bringing to the nursery, home center, etc.
  • Blunt-tip scissors: plenty of stuff to cut, so get a decent pair
  • Popsicle sticks: great as labels for transplants, seed flats, or in-garden bed plantings


  • Hobby/utility knife: cutting string, fabric, bags, plastic mulch, etc.
  • Linseed oil: for preserving and maintaining your garden tools


  • Plastic baggies/paper lunch bags: use these to hold packets of seeds, soil to be tested, and for distributing the harvest to friends, neighbors and food banks 
  • Plastic containers with lids: store seeds, soil amendments, bulbs, tools, etc.
  • Cooking knives: for removing or chopping up plant matter bound for the compost pile
  • Towels: for wet cleanups
  • Colander: for washing your freshly harvested veggies prior to bringing them inside


  • Child-sized rubber boots: keep several sets for the classroom
  • Aprons or big shirts: to cover the kids school clothes when in the garden
  • Large hats: keep small faces and bodies covered in shade


  • Insect repellant: check with parents before applying to a child
  • Sunscreen: protect from sunburns, but, again, check with parents before applying
  • Hand sanitizer: goes without saying, with what kids get their hands into


  • Boxes: for new planting areas or for your worm bin
  • Newspapers: for that worm bin

Nursery (check to see if they'll donate)

  • Seedlings: these are often better for schools, since kids can see them growing immediately
  • Seeds: these are cheap and kids love seeing their plants pop out of their ground
  • Worm bin: fun project for classrooms
  • Mulch: always a needed supply for the school garden
  • Potting soil: another always in need supply for the school garden
  • Pots: several different sizes are always good for teachers
  • Compost bin: these are great projects for classrooms, and the best ones for classrooms are the ones that can be turned and are off the ground

Although most of the supplies needed to start gardening or composting will be purchased by the individual schools, supplemental funding for the program comes from a variety of other sources.  Help is always needed, so check with your local schools to see what they may need. 

Sometimes the best help is sharing your knowledge, so don't forget about all of the great (and free) University of Florida vegetable gardening information!


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