I am so excited to have today’s guest return to Freckles Crafts! You may remember Susan’s popular post about story crafting, and today she is back to talk about gardening with kids! Not only is Susan is an amazing gardner, she is also my big sis! I can vouch for her gardening skills since I spend most of the summer trying to talk her into sharing her veggies with me, ha! And aren’t my adorable nieces the perfect garden helpers?
Take it away sis!
Looking for a fun summer project to do with your child? Why not start a simple garden? After all, there is something magical about watching a seed sprout, grow into a plant and eventually yield something yummy to eat! Besides, any parent knows that if they grow it, they’re more likely to eat it. And, we all want our kids to eat their veggies, right?
In my experience, the key to introducing kids to gardening is to keep it SIMPLE. One of the best ways to do this is to start with container gardening. All it takes to get started is a few large pots, potting soil, seeds or plants, and a sunny location.
Some of the best plants for container gardening are lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pole beans, and herbs. Cherry tomatoes and pole beans will do best in a pot that is at least 16” in diameter and 16” to 18” in depth. Both will need a long stick or dowel rod for support. Use good potting soil!
If you want to take it one step up from container gardening, try a raised bed. Raised bed kits can be purchased at most home/gardening stores and it’s surprising how many veggies you can grow in a three by five raised bed. A raised bed is also an ideal spot to try a themed garden such as a pizza garden. Grow everything needed for a veggie-loaded home-made pizza including Roma tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano, and green peppers.
If your child doesn’t have a desire to grow vegetables, then why not try growing a playhouse? That’s right … grow a play house. Here’s some simple directions for both:
- In a sunny spot, dig or hoe a five by five furrow in the shape of a square. (8×8 for a larger house)
- Leave a two to three foot space on one side for the door.
- Plant sunflower seeds (mammoth variety) about one inch apart.
- As the sunflowers grow, walls will take shape. Make sure to water often.
- Be patient— it will take almost three months before your sunflower house is in “move-in” condition!
Pole Bean Teepee:
- Using dowel rods or long sticks, form the shape of a tepee and secure at the top. Results will be best if you use at least seven dowel rods.
- At the base of each dowel rod, plant three to five pole bean seeds (scarlet runners or Kentucky Wonder seeds work great) and water often.
- Pole beans are fast growers. The teepee will start to fill out within a month!
Whether you’re planting a large garden, small raised beds, or just a few containers, remember to introduce gardening to your child in a stress-free manner. Don’t make a big deal out of weeds and never turn gardening into a chore. Initially, this may mean that you have to sneak out to the garden every once in a while to pull weeds or flip a few beetles off the bean leaves. These are chores that your gardener can take on once they’ve gardened for a few years. For now, it’s best for them to enjoy the magic of successfully growing a beautiful flower or tasty vegetable. Plus, think how proud they’ll be to bring something to the table for the whole family to enjoy!
In order to ensure gardening success, it’s best to start with fast growing or easy to grow plants. Here’s a list of some fool-proof crops to get your little gardener off to a good start:
From Seed: lettuce, carrots, radishes, beans, peas, sunflowers, pumpkins
From Nursery Plants: tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers
Bulbs, Sets, Starters: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic
Susan lives in the country with her husband and four children. When not busy playing in the garden with the kids, she enjoys writing mysteries. You can find links to her stories here: www.sfurlongbolliger.com