By Lisa Ray, The Gardening Advisor, Grow Something Today For Tomorrow
Children learn many lessons while gardening-from math and reading to various aspects of science like botany and weather. Patience, responsibility, and the pleasures of physical work are additional benefits. This is most likely to occur when the project is made to be a fun adventure.
Planning With A Child’s Eye
When planning a children’s garden, make sure that it is a joint project, basing decisions as much as possible on the child’s opinions and suggestions. Some children will want their own separate plot, while others are content to have a corner of yours. Choose a size that is reasonable for the number and age of the children involved, as well as your own ability to play a role in it. An area 6 by 6 feet to 15 by 15 feet is a good size to consider.
Starting from seed is usually the most exciting, but only with varieties that germinate easily. Use transplants with vegetables or flowers that are difficult to start to give better assurance of success. Kids love to water, so it’s a good idea to provide them with a small watering can of their own.
Selecting Plants For Children
To keep the spark of interest burning, plan the garden well so there’s something to pick or discover every day.
Build a teepee for the pole beans. There are purple beans or scarlet runner beans to make the teepee colorful. Children love to sit inside the teepee when the vines have covered it.
Plant some popcorn, few snacks are as healthy as popcorn. Plant seeds in blocks to ensure pollination, and allow the cobs to dry on the stalk
Radishes mature fast, so plants these first in early spring or fall, and the harvest begins in about 24 days. There are many colors to choose from.
Baby carrots are another early spring or fall crop. The round types, such as “Thumbelina” are quickest and easiest to grow, maturing in 50 to 60 days. Carrots are also available in many colors.
Looseleaf and butterhead lettuces are easily grown spring crops. Harvest leaf by leaf in about six weeks after planting, and then continue for another month or so.
Cherry tomatoes are a favorite because they are good to look at and to eat. They are the perfect size for little hands. They are available in red and yellow.
Squash are very easy and fast to grown. Children love to gather the yellow squash. It’s like hunting for surprises.
Gourds and pumpkins take up extra room, but are very rewarding to the children, especially if they grow a prize pumpkin.
Sunflowers are tall and fun to watch them follow the sun as it crosses the sky. The seeds are delicious and very good for the children or to feed the birds.
Don’t forget to add some flowers like marigolds, zinnias, or nasturtiums for added color and beauty. And of course, the garden will need a scarecrow.
The important things about your child’s garden is, it teaches your child, your child will be more willing to eat their vegetables, and you’ll be spending quality time with your child. Have fun!