Do you have little ones or are a complete gardening novice? This blog is for you!
I believe it’s important for kids to see how food is grown. I also believe anyone can harvest the benefits of having plants around. ;)
Below you’ll find the basics in creating and caring for a garden. Grow veggies, grow flowers, just get outside and enjoy Mother Earth!
First up, finding your spot:
Take a walk around your yard and look for an area with good sunlight, will be easy to water, and won’t get in the way of someone playing in the yard. Perhaps you can find a spot where people will see, and you can show off your mad gardening skills! Nonetheless, for sun exposure, a south-facing plot is best.
If you can't seem to find a sunny spot, some plants will do fine in partial shade. You can try lettuce, Swiss chard, collards, spinach, mustard, impatiens, begonias, and coleus in a shady garden area.
Next, look for good drainage. If you notice that water sits on top of the ground/soil stays wet for a long time, that area should be avoided. Or, you can make a raised garden bed!
All you need to do is make a pile around 8-12 inches high. Use some rocks or boards to keep the soil in place. My dad used old railroad ties for his raised beds!
Check out the soil in that spot. Are there things already growing there? Even if it’s just weeds in your future garden plot, it’s a good sign that vegetables and flowers will do well.
Time to get dirty! Dig in and check the worm population. If you don’t want to, I’m sure you can find a kid to volunteer for the job. If there’s plenty of worms around, great! If not, get some in there. They are the perfect, quiet, and helpful tenants to welcome into your garden.
A “For Rent” sign that worms look for is food in the soil. Not Twinkies or pizza, but old roots or leaves! If your home is like mine, there are still plenty of leaves to be found on the ground. Fertilizing with leaves is a great bargain because they are free. It’s easier to mix them in the soil if they’re chopped, so get that lawn mower out and mulch away!
Water = Life:
Regular gardens need to get about one inch of rain every week. When it is dry, you will need to water your garden. If you have thicker, clay-like soil, it’ll hold water longer, and sandy soil will dry out faster and need to be watered often.
A slow, thorough, soak is better than a light sprinkle. Allow the soil to get nice and moist and the roots will be encouraged to grow deeper.
Water your garden early in the day so plants dry off before it gets dark. This helps prevent disease.
Here’s a list of plants that are pretty easy to grow, grow quickly, and are fun to harvest… perfect for littles and newbies!
Sunflowers- Plant a few, as they take a lot of room. Sprouts in a week, 2” tall in two weeks, 2’ tall in a month, bud in 8 weeks. Seeds will dry naturally in the late summer sun – which you can roast and eat or save for next summer to plant!
Lettuce- Plant in part shade, in the first weeks make sure the soil is well watered, sprouts in 7-10 days, grows to maturity in 40-50 days.
Radishes- Sprout in 3-10 days, grow to maturity in 20-30 days.
Snow Peas- Sprout in 10 days, mature in 60 days, plant in cooler and shaded locations, can plant very close together – harvest and eat right from the vine!
Cherry Tomatoes- Easier to plant seedlings rather than trying to germinate seeds, place a 2’ stake alongside each seedling for support, try to keep it’s leaves dry, grow to maturing in 50-75 days, also easy to grow in a container.
Nasturtiums- Even with a weird name these flowers are easy to grow, after planting, the blooms show arrive in 50 days, they do well in poor soil and prefer sunny, dry locations, the flowers are even edible and can be tossed in your salad.
Carrots- Prefer cooler temperatures, so plant them in early spring or late fall, can be slow to germinate, will mature in 60 days, keep well watered, thin plants down to every 3” for proper roots to grow.
Potatoes- Many different varieties with the “red” maturing fastest, cut seed potatoes into chunks with 2 ‘eyes’ per chunk, plant 12”-15” apart with eyes pointing upward, mound the dirt up around the plant as it grows up, harvest when plant collapses.
Pumpkins- Of course! These will need some room, plant seeds in small hill, poke three holes in hill and put a seed in each, sprouts in 1 week, vine leaves will appear and creep along the ground, when three pumpkins grow on the vine, pick off any new blossoms for bigger pumpkins, harvest in 80-120 days, seeds can be dried to eat or saved for next year’s garden!
Get that green thumb growing!