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Learn to Garden

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Gardening is the best way to help out our ecosystem. It's great exercise. You can grow your own food. It's fun to see the fruits of your labor -- literally! Gardening is even better when you use your skills to build habitats, so adding elements like a birdbath are important. Using plants that help certain animals, such as milkweed that attracts butterflies, is also helpful. Best of all, gardening is a fun group activity. We would like to see a Community Garden in every neighborhood and in every school. 

Planting a butterfly garden in your backyard, in a pot on a balcony, or at school, is an easy way to get started with gardening. Butterflies can live in South Florida all year round. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Plant butterfly-friendly plants for the specific butterflies that live in or migrate through our city. 
  • Don't be too picky about keeping the garden perfect. When you let some of the grasses and wildlfowers grow and bloom, that provides shade and food for the butterflies.
  • Put shallow or flat dishes to fill or to catch rain. Butterflies do not like deep water.
  • Don't use pesticides (bug killers), which can obviously harm butterflies too. 

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) provides a helpful list of Trees, Shrubs and Vines and Annual and Perennial Plants of South Florida that attract and create a habitat for butterflies.

NABA can certify your home, school, place of worship, or organization as a Certified Butterfly Garden.

Trying an upcycled garden is another fun way do what's right for our environment. Not only do you create a beautiful green addition to your landscape, but you reduce waste too. Upcycling is taking something you would normally throw out and find a way to make it into something else actually improving the quality of the original object. Upcycled garden improves the original object by turning it into a source of food, an animal habitat, or even a home for a seedling tree.

Upcycled gardens are especially useful if you live somewhere you are not able to garden in the ground because you can do it on a balcony, patio, parking lot, or any surface. They can sit on a windowsills or front steps; they can hang from a wall, fence, or railing; they can be placed on coffee tables, nightstands, and kitchen counters, or you can create an upcycled piece for your in-ground garden,. The possibilities are endless!

Before you bust out the seeds and soil, you will need to find the perfect object to create your upcycled garden. The object will serve as a planter it needs to fit your plant of choice, hold soil, and have a place where you can create small holes for drainage. Ask your parents or adults at home what you can use, visit a thrift shop or neighbor’s garage sale for the perfect object to upcycle. Think about using: old dresser drawers, boots or shoes, hollow rubber toys, soda, coffee, soup, or paint cans, old kitchen strainers, Plastic bottles or jugs, tires, bird cages, buckets and more!

If you want to take your creativity a step further, try a vertical garden. Vertical gardening is all about using air space instead of acreage. You can build a vertical garden on a fence, a balcony rail, a wall, or hanging off a windowsill. Below are some interesting ideas for vertical gardening. 

  • If you have limited outdoor space, try growing herbs in this hanging vertical garden made out of a shoe organizer.
  • Grow annual flowers in this pallet garden that fits conveniently on a balcony or patio.
  • Save even more space by creating a gutter garden out of rain gutters along a wall or fence. 

If you are serious about soil, not playing about plants, or wowed by water, the Junior Master Gardener (JMG) Program offered by Broward County 4-H may be right for you. The program is a two year commitment that engages youth in service opportunities, leadership development projects, and special certifications all about gardening and the environment.  

High School Student Volunteers


 Junior Master Gardener Logo  Learn more about JMG, and how your teacher can bring the program to your school.
Broward Counthy 4H Logo  Learn more about enrolling through Broward County 4-H

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