Friday, June 8, 2012

Gardening with children

This time I would like to do something slightly different . I would like to share with you a story from third grade . I had a wonderful teacher named , Mrs. Duss , who was a nature and animal lover . She taught us regular lessons  like math , history or language art . But the most memorable thing she taught us was to respect the world in which we are living . She told us (to my mom's disgust ;-) ) to pick up worms with a stick when they were on the sidewalks (after a rainy day) and put them back to the grass where it was safer for them to be . She also taught us how to grow things . I remember every student in the class had a small tiny square garden . But it was big enough for all of us to plant something . So we all planted something , took care of it and picked up the fruits or vegetables when it was ready . I personally had strawberries and radishes . And they tasted so gooooooooood ! It was such a valuable lesson that it stayed with me ever since . And even though I am far from being a green thumb , I enjoy experimenting planting flowers , or fruits and vegetables . Sometimes it works ...sometimes it doesn't . But the experience is definitively worth it . When my kid was small , even tough we were living in an apartment , I shared this experience with him . We planted flowers and tomatoes in pots on our balcony . The gardening experience was a success . The pride end excitement of a child when he/she realizes how a seed can grow , and how this plant can produce a vegetable he/she can pick up and eat ... is priceless !

This is why I chose gardening for this project . Just have your child plant a seed , water it , see how it grows and enjoy the beauty of it .

Grade level : Kindergarden and higher . Older kids will pay more attention and take a bigger part in taking care of the plants . But the smaller children will still enjoy this process .

Material needed : You will need :
                            * seeds from flowers ( like sunflowers )
                            * seeds from your favorite vegetables ( like tomatoes .You can buy the seeds or actually use the seeds from an actual tomato .)
                            * seeds for herbs (like parsley , dill , basil , cilantro ,etc)
                            * some planters or pots (ceramic or plastic)
                            * soil for vegetables and flowers
                            * a small shovel
                            * gardening gloves (optional)
                            * water
                            * watering can and/or spray bottle
                            * some acrylic paints
                            * paintbrushes
                            * chalks

Project : (1) Ask the child to decorate the pots and /or planters with acrylic paints . They can create their own designs or paint the entire thing black so it will look like a black board . You can also add a name on the planter if you have more than one child .


  (2) If the pot is painted black , you can write on it what you are planning to plant in it with a chalk .

              (3) Ask the child to add some soil in each pots you want to use .
              (4) Ask the child to dig a small whole and place a seed in it . Ask him/her to cover the seed back with some soil .

              (5) Then ask the child to water the soil using a spray bottle . Repeat the watering every day until the plant start growing and produce flowers or vegetables .
              (6) Enjoy your new garden ! You will be amazed ! Beside producing flowers and vegetables it will also attract some wonderful creatures like butterflies ,  pretty ladybugs , birds , curious squirrels...


Tips : If you are not an experience gardener (just like me !) , I may say this . A sunflower NEVER failed to grow , no matter what time of the year or season I planted it . (However I live in Southern California .) And no matter what kind of sunflower I planted , it ALWAYS worked ! And tomatoes were always a success as well . So if you are a beginner , and you are not sure what to plant , I will really advise you to choose sunflowers and tomatoes .
Also if things does not seem to work at first , keep trying ! Some things we tried to grow did not always grow . Some plant just simply never seemed to work for us . Maybe it's the location , maybe we're doing it wrong . Sometimes the squirrels destroyed our plants . Sometimes our dog ....But we never gave up ! We kept trying and we tried to fix the problems. (We stayed away from certain flowers , we put a small fence to prevent the dog for digging or eating our plants , and we sprayed some Cayenne Pepper in hope to try to discourage the squirrels .) So why don't you give it a try ?GOOD LUCK !
I will keep adding pictures as the plants are growing and blooming .

Our garden : This year we planted :

Some flowers :
 (1) Mammoth sunflowers (can grow up to 12 feet tall). We planted them directly in the soil .


We also have some Teddy bear sunflowers growing in our garden . A seed was accidentally mixed in the pack of mammoth sunflowers ...but it's growing :-) 


 (2) Some Oriental Lilies .(Those were bulbs , not seeds .) We planted five of them directly into the ground . Unfortunately the squirrels stole two of them :-(



(3) Some four o'clocks in a pot on the porch .


(4) Some Dahlias in a planter on the porch .


(5) Some pansies in a planter on the porch ....but this did not grow as well . We were never able to grow any the previous years ....but let's see if we can do it this year ....


Some vegetables :

We have a busy life and we planted our vegetables and herbs a little late this year . But still.,we certainly hope to be able to grow something ....

(6) Some Juliet Hybrid tomatoes (grape tomatoes)  in a pot .

(7) Some Cascabella peppers in a pot . Nothing yet .....It is something new for us . It is the very first year that we tried to plant some peppers . It is growing slowly...

(8) Some herbs:

                                                                Parsley :




Basil :


Cilantro :

Did you know that children are more likely to eat their vegetables if they grow their own ? Hmmm...that may be another reason for you and your to try to grow a garden !

Some fruits :
You may also want to try to grow some fruits like strawberries . It is supposed to be quite easy . I haven't tried it yet , but we did plant a mandarin tree in our yard last winter . And it is fun to watch it grow ...

   Hope your are having as much fun with your garden small or big :o)