Looking for something new to do with the kids this summer? Give gardening a try!
Right off the bat, you will engage your kiddos’ senses:
- Touch: Little hands in the soil
- Smell: Fragrant flowers and herbs
- Taste: Herbs, fruits and the veggies they helped grow
- Sight: Enjoy the beauty of the flowers, butterflies, and birds their creation will attract
A garden also gives you a great opportunity to introduce scientific concepts:
- What plants need to thrive: Soil, sun, and water as well as the different variables for different kinds of plants
- How they contribute to our environment: Oxygen emitters and air purifiers
- Their place in the life cycle: Hosts and food sources
Growing your own herbs, vegetables, and fruits can help explain where our food comes from and will help promote healthy eating. Plus, tending to a garden teaches responsibility, that success and/or failure is okay, and… PATIENCE! It can be tough waiting for those tasty fruits and veggies to ripen or caterpillars to emerge as beautiful butterflies!
How Do You Get Started?
Plant it in a pot!
- Container: Ceramic, terracotta, metal, even fabric pots work great!
- Soil: Look for the words “Potting Mix” on the label. For edibles, try organic potting mix.
- Fertilizer: Starter plant food will help your plant grow faster and healthier.
- Rocks: Placed rocks in the bottom of the pot to assist with drainage.
- Plants: When combining plants, make sure they have the same sun and water needs.
- Find your container. Be sure it has a drain hole. Size of the container will determine how many plants you can include.
- Pick out your plants. Options are endless as long as they all have the same water and sun requirements. Try a salsa pot — a tomato, pepper and a basil plant! Herb combination planters can create amazing aromas. Or create an easy butterfly pot — any combination of the following: Milkweed, penta, lantana, gaura, salvia or cuphea.
- Fill bottom 1-2” of a container with rocks. For extra-large containers, you can try using recycled items such as plastic water bottles to reduce the amount of soil needed.
- Fill a pot with soil. Leave room at the top of the pot for the depth of your plant containers.
- Mix in fertilizer. Follow instructions on the bag.
- Layout plants. Try different arrangements before planting. (Pro Tip: Tall plants go in the back for pots against a wall or in the center for 360-degree view planters.) Remember, they will grow bigger once planted, so use the height information on tag to determine. Try to include a plant with trailing qualities in front to spill over the edge of your pot. And don’t be afraid to pack the plants in!
- Remove plants from containers. Loosen tightly wrapped roots. Place in a new container.
- Backfill with soil. Be sure not to leave any air pockets between plants.
- Water in thoroughly. If settling occurs, fill holes with soil.
Check out the video above of a few Jacksonville Mom kids container gardening with us!
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