The following is a guest post by Michelle of Lagniappe Academy.
Previously, I wrote about the numerous benefits of starting a garden with your children as part of your homeschool experience. Since we started our own gardening adventure a little over a year ago, we’ve stumbled a bit along our way to success. It’s all part of the process, and we definitely honed our problem-solving skills. To help you make the most of your efforts, I’d like to share five tips for selecting plants and building a home for your budding garden.
Tips for Beginning to Garden with Your Children
Start with easy crops.
Plant these easy and quick-growing seeds for a better chance of success: sunflowers, lettuce, radishes, snow or snap peas, pumpkin, and strawberries (use starter plants). Just be sure to check if they are cool or warm season growers and when is the best time to plant them in your area. Also, throw in some flower seeds with your veggies, which will bring in pollinators and deter pests. We love nasturtiums (edible flowers & leaves), zinnias, and marigolds sprinkled among our veggies.
Try a potato planter bag.
For under fifteen dollars, you can get a potato planter bag, which is a reusable container designed specifically for growing and easily harvesting three to five potato plants. Buy a few seed potatoes or let an organic potato sprout (conventional potatoes are sprayed with chemicals to prevent sprouting), cut it in pieces with at least one eye on each piece, and plant according to the directions on your bag. My girls love finding all those little baby potatoes growing just under the surface!
Pots and window boxes make a great portable salad bar.
Most vegetable plants can be grown in pots, and herbs do especially well in containers. Container gardening helps teach kids about trial and error. If your plants start to sag in the afternoon heat, move the pots to a spot that is a bit shadier later in the day. Plants not growing? Find a sunnier location for your containers.
Build up with raised beds.
If you have a good location picked out, consider building raised garden beds. These are perfect for kids, because they require no difficult initial digging, you don’t have to bend over as far to tend them, they are super easy to weed, and they are a little more resistant to some pests. Plus, plants love the loose, nutrient dense soil. Consider building yours with cedar fence pickets for a cheap, untreated wood option.
Visit local nurseries.
Local nurseries are a great place to get plants that are sure to do well in your area, and the staff are usually more knowledgeable and have more time to help than some of the staff at your larger chain stores. We even found a great source for cheap heirloom vegetable plants (and information) at our weekly farmer’s market. In my experience, small local nursery owners love helping out new gardeners, and they especially love seeing little ones get excited about growing!
For more information, printables, and activities
Check out these resources for gardening with kids:
- My First Garden – gardening planning list, garden journal pages, planting date guidelines, and growing information for specific plants
- Garden Journal Pages – for older students (or mom and dad) to record planting dates and other information
- Preschool Garden Pack – printables for your little helpers
- A list of free Montessori botany materials – at Living Montessori Now
Michelle is a wife, mother, writer, and Cajun who prefers everything extra spicy. Follow along at Lagniappe Academy for more of their gardening and homeschooling adventures.
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