Science is not my forte, nor will it ever be. When a friend suggested this class, “PLANT 220: Gardening for Fun and Profit”,  I quickly grabbed a spot in the greenhouse to fulfill a General Natural Science credit. This science, I needed to handle.

Plus, the class has the word “fun” in it - so logic states there is no way it was going to be a difficult class. And it wasn’t. But it was also so much more.

This class was more useful than my Calculus I class and probably my 5 other Gen. Eds. combined. Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. Fresh veggies every week

Erin O'Neill

One of the first labs of class, we cleared out a raised bed garden with some overgrown vegetables. I took home a zucchini the size of a small child that day.

Then we planted seeds of spinach, beets, carrots, jalapeños, peppers, like 8 varieties of lettuce and tomatoes. The instructors, Elsa Sanchez and Bob Lamont, let us have free reign in what we wanted to plant.

A couple weeks later, after lecture, we could go out to the garden and harvest what we wanted. I brought home bags of fresh spinach every Monday. I had more lettuce than I knew what to do with. It forced some healthy eating habits.

2. Hands-on labs

cheese, sandwich, pizza
Erin O'Neill

The 2-hour labs on Monday’s never failed to intrigue and get us thinking about what we could include in our future property. Examples of the labs included:

Beekeeping: We ate honey straight off the comb.

Nut trees: We learned about nut trees, cracked, and ate varieties of nuts that I’d never heard of. 

Wine making: Spoiler - its not the color of the skin that determines the color of wine.

Home food preservation: Jam, anyone? 

Flower arranging: See #4.

Fruit trees and bushes: Peaches, apples, blackberries, etc.

3. Final: Future Homeowner's Project

water, duck, cake, bird
Erin O'Neill

The class had 3 exams, and they were a fair test of what we learned in the labs and lectures. Instead of a cumulative exam, we were given a final project - the “Future Homeowner’s Project”.

It was very open ended. The instructors wanted us to create a real or imaginary landscape, a dream house or fixing up our parent’s house.

But the key was that we used the methods we learned in class to create a maintenance plan. It really got me thinking, and I created my dream property including horses, chickens, a giant veggie garden, fruit trees, indoor and outdoor plants, big oak trees and more.

Students projects ranged from gardens on a ship, a minimalist landscape in California, to a 20-acre property with a giant Christmas tree and fountain in the center of the driveway, ‘cause why not?

4. Houseplants, poinsettias, flower arrangements - to keep.

Erin O'Neill

The flower arrangement lab was definitely at the top of my favorite-lab-list. We picked a variety of flowers and learned what shapes and formations worked best.

And then we were let loose to make our own creation. I brought it home for Thanksgiving and I think even my green-thumb grandma was impressed.

We also propagated house-plants which was really neat. Until the next day when I found out I am allergic to 1 of 15 varieties of said houseplants...

But they were beautiful nonetheless and it was super cool to see them grow through the semester. We could take them home before break - so naturally I gave mine to a friend.

5. Real life application

Honestly, I think my parent and roommates laughed every time I brought up my class “Gardening for Fun and Profit”, but I would take this class 10 times over if I could.

I learned more about maintenance of a home and elements of a landscape that can enhance any property. Oh, and I ate some pretty good food in the process.

I'll never forget the first day of class, Bob went around the room and asked us our major, and why we took this class. The majors ranged from Russian to Finance and not one horticulture major.

After we all introduced ourselves, he said, “See, it doesn’t matter what major you are in or what career you land, at the end of the day, we all need to eat.”