Gardening With Children

 

Spring is here! The sweet smell of apple blossoms fill the air and I find it is the perfect time to start gardening with the children. Since moving to my sisters farm it seems the children have taken a wonderful interest in how plants grow. Perhaps it is because their uncle has been plowing the fields, perhaps it is because I keep pointing out all of the fruit trees in bloom, or perhaps they are just getting excited about growing their own food. Whatever the reason I feel now is the perfect time to start gardening with them.

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We've checked out loads of gardening books from the library and added a few new ones to our collection. One of the children's favorites is Miss Rumphius. This lovely story is all about making the world more beautiful and in the story the heroine does just that with lupine seeds! Here on the farm we wanted to plant a beautiful flower container to go beside our front door.

Our daughter, Jade, helped me picked out the most perfect plants for our partially sunny spot. She and I chose a combination of Annuals and Perennials and we are completely in love with the results...

  • Foxglove
  • Blue Lobelia
  • Jacob's Ladder
  • New Guinea Impatiens
  • Creeping Jenny

Another book we love is In My Garden. This book tells children all about soil preparation, starting seeds indoors, planting seeds outside, planting tips, etc. Our son made a Terraqua Column out of soda bottles to help himself better understand the sprouting of seeds and plant growth within a contained environment. He planted a radish seed and two pole beans. All you need for your own Terraqua Column is...

  • Two 2-liter soda bottles, empty and clean
  • two bottle caps
  • scissors or box cutter (with adult help)
  • drill and drill bit (with adult help)
  • tape
  • thin rope or yarn, about 5 inches long
  • water, soil, plants and seeds

Both of the children wanted to grow herbs this year. Prior to moving to the farm, we had been unable to grow herbs. Our apartment didn't get enough sunshine. Not so on the farm! Uncle Joe even found an old pitted cast iron cauldron for us to plant our herbs in! But first, the children wanted to make potions in it..."Double, Double Toil and Trouble; Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble." Seriously though, they said it was a "Death potion" and I was not to drink it....ummm, OK!

After the children had their fun, Uncle Joe scrubbed the cauldron clean. He and our son, Gabriel, drilled several holes in the bottom for drainage. Then I sprayed the cauldron with a sealant and painted it. It was ready for planting! 

We added a layer of rocks to the bottom of the cauldron for drainage and then filled in the rest with good potting soil. The children helped me pick out the herbs we wanted to add. We may have gone a bit herb crazy, but the kids LOVE it. We planted...

  • Oregano
  • Fennel
  • Rosemary
  • Pineapple Sage
  • Purple Sage
  • Lemon Balm
  • Sweet Basil
  • German Thyme
  • Dill
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Cilantro
  • Nicotiana

Lastly, we used an old water trough that had holes throughout the bottom and turned it into a strawberry planter! A couple of our transplants look "iffy" so we will keep an eye on them. On either side of the water trough Jade and I planted blueberry bushes! Jade is a HUGE fan of blueberries so she was more than happy to to help plant them and then water them.

With every plant we planted the children and I talked about the different books on gardening that we've read. We talked about the needs of specific plants. We talked about how seeds germinate and how plants grow. We are learning and experiencing so much here on the farm and about gardening with the children. I find that letting them be a part of the planting process gives them a confidence that they can't get from books alone. Let them get dirty. Let them make a mess. Let them take pride in a job well done.