SCHOOL HERBAL GARDEN
Plants play a major role not only in the life of a human being but also every living being and are the gift of the nature to protect, sustain life in this world. Some provide us edible material, food- grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, Some provide beautiful flowers which we offer in our prayer and also decorate a place to have a very aesthetic look, some provide us materials for making cloths, some provide wood for making our home and furniture, some provide fuel- bio-fuel. Plants provide oxygen for us to breathe. Tress provides shade for us to rest, helps cloud formation and rain, and prevents global warming. Some plants are used as medicines. Some plants are natural fertilizers, cattle feeds and some are natural insect repellents and pesticides. In simple terms life is fully dependant on the nature’s gift called plants. Though plants grow in the same soil, imagine the range of species that are available and also the natural variation within the same species. It is essential for everyone to be associated with creating and preserving a herbal garden, be it at school or home or industrial area, community park, hedge of plants and where ever possible.
“Herbs are defined as plants (trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, biennials or annuals) valued historically, presently, or potentially for their flavor, fragrance, medicinal qualities, insecticidal qualities, economic or industrial use, or in the case of dyes, for the coloring material they provide” - Holly Shimizu
- Demonstrative purpose - The purpose of the Herbal Garden is to demonstrate about the plants that have been the source of medicines in the past and present and also the future.
- Awareness creation - Creating awareness on the importance and traditional uses of medicinal plants for better health of school going children, parents and teachers.
- Conservation- Herbal garden paves the way preserving the medicinal plants, especially the rare, endangered and threatened (RET) species of medicinal plants.
- Herbal Garden in schools’ provide them an opportunity to work closely with herbal plants and inculcate a sense of familiarity from childhood with surrounding biodiversity
- To create medicinal plant resource in schools so that it can be replicated in the nearby areas, homes, hostel and also become available to the needy persons.
- Utilization - Increasing the availability of the medicinal plants utilized in Traditional Medicines and as simple home remedies
Creating a herbal Garden
The size and type of herbal garden need not be very big. It depends on the space available, water potential, protection from cattle, stray animals etc. An herbal garden may be informal with a mixture of herbs, flowers and vegetables, or it may be formal with paths and herb beds laid out in simple or complex patterns. The Paths or walkway can be made of a number of materials, such as brick, stone, gravel, red earth , river sand or grass, but in each case they should be wide enough at least 5 ft width.. For schools with limited space, herbs grown in a variety of containers make an attractive display on a balcony or near walkway .The sides of the walk way can have bushes- shrubs like Henna, Hibiscus which are both medicinal and ornamental.
Choose an area for growing herbs on which the sun shines four to six hours per day. Some plants perform well under shade of trees like coconut etc, but Tamarind tree does not allow plants to grow However, if you have a shady yard there are a number of herbs that will do well for you. A clear demarcation of the garden plots with stakes and string is essential and students should be involved in every activity including this activity. Once the outside perimeter in place, with the help of a predesigned garden map create garden designs with rectangular beds and plots, and straight pathways. If enough space is there circular beds, star-shaped plots can also be created. Create walkways around it and mulch the garden paths. Wood chips from tree pruning work well. The site must be well drained. If water remains on top of the soil, drainage is poor and herb growth will be affected. If a badly drained site is the only one available, tiling may be done or, , raised beds may be constructed. Raised beds can be built with extra soil kept in place by raised bed edgings of brick or stone. A mounded bed does not require an edging at all; however, this look is more appropriate in an informal plan. Adding a great deal of organic matter to the top two feet of soil can also improve drainage in heavy clay soils.
Garden Tools and materials
Basically a tap with water, hose pipes based on the length and breadth of the site, rose cans, sikatures, garden scissors, hand hoes, small crowbars , spade, spading fork, rake, trowel, hand weeder, pruning shears, sharp knife are required. The enjoyment of working in a herbal garden depends in part upon using the right tools. The quantity of each sort of gardening tool will depend on the budget and the scale of the program. Select only those that are needy, strong and durable enough for long years of service. Take good care of them and keep them in a convenient area ready for use.. The minimum needed is a good pair of pruning shears, a sturdy trowel, watering can or hose and a spade. It is better to buy less and get the best quality you can afford.
Who will mind them?
Students, who are members of the eco club, green club and students of biological sciences from class Sixth to 9th will carry out the garden creation and maintain them under the supervision of the biology teacher and Eco club coordinator. A each batch of students will be responsible for particular herbal plots. During school vacation, school gardener or guard will water the plants. Teachers and students from immediate neighborhood can also volunteer during holidays.
Where to get plants/ seeds/ saplings
Most of the plants of common use are generally available just around the School and roadsides, pond sides. Most of them multiply through stem cuttings or plantlets or seeds. So the propagation material can easily be collected. Seeds and Saplings could be collected from nearby forest nurseries, forest extension centres, horticultural dept farms, corporation parks and from private nurseries. Children could also be encouraged to collect plants from homes, roadsides, tank, river bunds etc,
Choice of Plants for School garden
The choice of plants for school herbal garden should be drought resistant, shrubs, small herbs, climbers. They should not have thorns as it may hurt children passing by. They should be safe, non-toxic and should be useful for common conditions that affect children. The nursery activity should commence in June as soon as school reopens after summer holidays and planting by end july. Following plants will be good to start with
1. Indigofera tinctoria – Avuri or Neeli
2. Hibiscus rosa sinensis - Chemparathai
3. Cissus quadrangularis – Pirandai
4. Aloe vera – Sottru Katrazhai
5. Bacopa monnieri - Neer Brahmi
6. Plectranthus ambonicus- Omavalli
7. Andrographis paniculata - Nilavembu
8. Tinospora cordifolia – Seendilkodi
9. Lawsonia inermis – Maarudhani, Henna
10. Adhatoda vasica - Aadathodai
11. Ocimum tenuiflorum – Thulasi
12. Centella asiatica - Vallarai
13. Vitex negundo – Nochi
14. Gymnema sylvestre - Sirukurinjan
15. Piper longum- Thippili
16. Lemon Grass – Cymbopogon citratus
17. Vetivera zizonoides- Vetiver
18. Alpinia calcarata- Chitharathai
19. Curcuma longa – Manjal