E.Thralls, UF/IFAS Extension, Orange County, Orlando, FL.
Situation: Florida Ag in the Classroom office requested a garden themed workshop for school teachers throughout the state in 2015 at the Mid Florida Research and Education Center. The idea for a wading pool hydroponic garden was included in the program. Methods: UF/IFAS Extension Orange County Urban Horticulture Agent Ed Thralls was invited to make a presentation before 82 school teachers. Additionally, it was requested that a hands-on demonstration relating to school gardens be presented as well. The presentation about how to start a school garden was helpful to teachers who did not have school gardens. The hands-on demonstrations provided practical methods for constructing school garden projects. The teachers were divided into three groups to increase the learning opportunity. One of the three demonstrations for the workshop would include the construction of a wading pool hydroponic garden for a school garden. This simple demonstration project of soilless gardening in the school garden was readily accepted because it had the potential to keep the children cleaner after working in the garden. Results: With a show of hands, all teachers (82) in each group believed that they understood how to build a wading pool hydroponic garden. Approximately half (40) of them said they would include a wading pool hydroponic garden in their school garden. Summer and early fall temperatures will heat the water in a wading pool hydroponic garden located in full sun and can stress plants. A shade covering the floating garden and providing about 30% shade compared to full sunlight could improve success with summer crops provided heat tolerant hydroponic vegetables are used. Conclusion: The enthusiasm shown by the school teachers motivated the author to submit a manuscript that became a new EDIS publication in October 2015. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep525.