man reviews plants in a greenhouse on cover of greenhouse manualAcross the United States, a growing number of schools and educational programs are planting gardens, engaging in Farm to School activities, and integrating plant science into the curriculum. To support and expand these hands-on learning activities, schools are exploring ways to build new infrastructure or reinvest in existing facilities such as greenhouses. Unfortunately, many school greenhouses are underutilized or only a single knowledgeable and dedicated teacher is enabling their use.

The United States Botanic Garden, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and City Blossoms recognized the emerging need for user-friendly guidance on operating these educational greenhouses and maximizing their potential. To that end, we have developed this introductory manual for educators wanting to better use new or existing greenhouses for programming. The manual clearly and concisely lays out a basic understanding of greenhouses, how to integrate them into lessons, and how to effectively use greenhouses in classroom curricula and out-of-school activities. The manual includes lesson plans as well as basic information on layout and operations of a greenhouse, growing plants (especially during the school year), growing from seed, seedling nutrition, identifying and treating disease and pest management in greenhouses, basic budgeting, and succession planting.

This useful resource will help facilitate transformative learning experiences in schools nationwide, while cultivating students’ appreciation of the importance of plants.

Download the manual as PDF »

Contents Outline:

  • How This Manual Works—An Introduction
  • Part 1: A Strong Foundation—Getting Started
    • Factors to Consider about a Greenhouse
    • Designing for Your Climate
    • Connections to Standards and Evidence of Benefits
    • Spotlight: Grown By Kids, For Kids in Livingston, Montana
  • Part 2: The Best Greenhouse For You—Design & Budget
    • Questions to Ask in Preparation: What, Why, Where, When & How
    • Greenhouse Types
    • Infrastructure Elements: Temperature, Orientation, Ventilation & Light
    • Creating an Interior Layout
    • Hydroponics
    • Budgeting for a School Greenhouse
  • Part 3: Plants, Plants, Plants—Growing in Greenhouse
    • Planning with the School Year & Growing Season
    • Creating a Planting Schedule
    • Greenhouse Planting with Students
    • From Seed to Seedling: Soil, Water & Nutrients
    • Soil Mix Ingredients
    • Steps for Starting Seeds
    • Caring for Seedlings
    • Seedling Nutrition
    • Environmental & Space Factors
  • Problem Solving: Pest & Disease Management
    • Beneficial Insects
    • Pests
    • Tools for Managing Greenhouse Plant Diseases
    • Spotlight: Helping Hands in Washington, D.C.
  • Part 4: Let’s Learn Together—Education & Engagement
    • Not Just Science! Creating a Larger Vision
    • Project-Based Learning
    • Time to Harvest: Connecting a School Greenhouse with a Farm-to-School Program
    • Spotlight: Growing Greens in Washington, D.C.
    • Budget Template
    • Greenhouse Seedling Planting Schedule
    • Succession Planting
    • Further Resources


Key words: Green house, greenhouse, hoop house, high tunnel, project based learning, Pests, lesson plans, farm to school, raised beds, passive solar green house, lean to green house, cold frames, green house glazing, plant based curricula, Greenhouse-based Curricula, Garden-based Curricula, greenhouse/sustainable development, planting schedule, succession planting, germination test, soil mixes, seed starting, seedling trouble shooting, greenhouse pests and disease,


Download the manual as PDF »