It’s that time of year again, right around the corner….GARDENING!!!!! For many gardeners, it’s hard to contain our excitement - now is the perfect time to start planning.
This is an ideal activity for your children.
First things first! Where are you going to put the garden? Allow your children to help select an area. You want a sunny location close to a water source. I have found it helpful to select a few spots and then give my child the option to choose.
Next, choose your garden layout. Will it be a tilled area in the ground? A raised bed? Or in containers? For those with limited space, a vertical garden is an excellent option, particularly suitable for those in apartments or condos. No matter where you live anyone can have a garden. Get creative!
Some cities have community gardens. Community gardens make gardening accessible to almost anyone and benefit the environment, as well as the health and wellbeing of the community members. Your Parks and Recreation Department may be able to supply information on your local options.
Now that you have chosen your location and type of garden, select the seeds you will plant. Some easy crops for first-time gardeners are squash, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions, and beans. You may also want to include flowers to make herbal teas and plants to benefit pollinators.
Order seed catalogs from your local seed vendor (yes, you can still get seed catalogs) or visit their website. Invite your children to participate in selecting seeds for the garden. This activity is not only relaxing and allows for free exploration, but it’s a great science activity that includes discussing your climate and the effect it has on planting times. Gardening allows your child to reconnect with nature and teaches them where their food comes from.
After you have selected your seeds, you may start your seeds inside if you do not wish to wait for the last frost or wait until the danger of frost has passed and plant the seeds straight into your garden. My personal preference is to wait and plant my seeds into the garden. Some people use milk jugs as greenhouses to plant their seeds.
Create a watering schedule. This would be a great time to have children look up how to create a drip line watering system.
Make sure to label your garden. If your child enjoys arts and crafts, this is an opportunity for them to be creative with labels. You can use popsicle sticks, rocks, paint sticks, whatever you choose just make sure it can withstand the weather conditions.
Once your seeds start sprouting, this would be a great time for older children to research what is needed for each group of plants. For example, tomatoes need to have support so they won’t break. Allow your child to figure out what will be used for support. Tomato cages, stakes, cattle panels are all good options. Some plants will need to climb such as squash.
Once your garden starts growing, for the child who loves art, allow your child to make pieces of art to put into the garden. Ideas would include making a sign out of wood. Paint old watering cans. Make stepping stones. Allow your child’s imagination to flow.
There are many extension lessons that gardening offers and would be a perfect addition to learning at home.
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We look forward to gardening with you!
Jessica Zahner has been working in education for 15 years - in both AMI and AMS Montessori schools. Assisting children with learning challenges, including students on the Autism Spectrum and other at risk students, is one of her specialties. As a homeschool mom she and her daughter are traversing the unique experience of home education of an only child. Jessica is fondly known for her passion for Practical Life and loves teaching parents why and how these skills are foundational for their children. The Zahners live on a working ranch and enjoy farming, gardening, and country life. When not caring for their livestock, enjoying practical homeschooling with her daughter, or working with ShillerLearning customers, you might find Jessica enjoying a perfectly brewed cup of tea from herbs grown in their abundant tea garden.