Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gardening with children 2

Sorry for having been away so long , but I have been incredibly busy . However here I am back the first day of spring and I want to share with you another gardening experience . I think it is really fun for kids to learn how to grow flowers , vegetables and more . I had a post about gardening with kids back in 2012 . Feel free to check it out . Anyway , here I am , two years later trying to grow more plants . And I want you to feel free to try your own experience with your children or your students .

I live in Southern California and winter was pretty mild this year . So I decided to start planting my "garden" at the end of February , beginning of March . We do have squirrels digging holes in our yard and most of the time they are successful in destroying whatever I try to plant . So this year I am trying to outsmart them by planting things huge planters ;)

Grade level : If doing that with your own children , you can start with toddlers . You would be amazed to see how helpful they are to water the plant and how excited they get to see something grow ! If you are a teacher you can start with kindergartners and up .

Materials needed : You will need :
                                  * planters (if you plant in containers like I do ) of different sizes
                                  * blackboard paint
                                  * painter's tape
                                  * chalks
                                  * little shovel
                                  * garden soil (you can easily find that at stores like Home Depot)
                                  * seeds

Activity : The first thing you want to do , is look at your planters and make sure they have holes to properly drained the water . I have a few huge containers that are actually not planters but that I am using as such . So I had to carefully drill some holes in them . (This is the work of an adult , not a child ! For safety reason !)

Then I put some painter tape and used the blackboard paint to fill a rectangular shape . This will allow me to write with a chalk what I will plant .

Here is an example of one finished :

And some regular planters ...

You can let the children write on those planters or draw what will be inside :)

Now you will need to help the children add garden soil to their pots and planters . Fill them up , add the seeds of you choice and water them ... You will need to check them everyday and water them as needed . However try to refrain from overwatering your plants , as it is one of the most common mistake people make .

Here is what I planted in my garden : herbs , vegetables and flowers . We also have two fruit trees that I will show you .

Herbs : Here are the herbs that I tried to plant : cilantro , dill , sweet basil , parsley , thyme , oregano and spearmint .
              (1) Cilantro : I love to plant cilantro . My teenage kid loves Mexican food and he makes delicious Salsa using fresh cilantro .

              (2) Dill : I planted some dill . My husband and my kid both love it on baked potatoes or on mashed potatoes . The best part is that it is extremely easy to grow !!!

               (3) Sweet basil : Basil is also fairly easy to grow . It adds great flavors to pasta , gnocchi , pizza and much more . Mine is just beginning to grow .

             (4) Parsley : I always like to have some parsley . When it grows , it grows very well . It is good to add to fried potatoes ....but also in my favorite ham croissants . I haven't taken any picture of my parsley yet . 

I also tried to plant some thyme and oregano for the first time . We will see if I am successful with those . I tried spearmint again this year , but it seems that I never have  any luck with this herb :(

Vegetables : Whenever I try to get my garden going , I always plant tomatoes , because they are extremely easy to grow and they taste so much better than the one at the store .But this year , I was seeing big ....and I wanted to try to plant more vegetables and see what I could grow . 

              (1) Tomatoes : as I said that is the easiest vegetable to grow . I never buy any tomato seeds , but rather use the seeds of another tomato . It never fail ! I planted grape tomatoes .

            (2) Radishes : Another vegetable that seemed to be easy to grow when I was a kid were radishes . So I tried ...and they were the first vegetable to grow .

              (3) Zucchini : Zucchini or Italian squash seemed another good choice to try . 

          (4) Green beans : I love green beans and it gives a lot of vegetables by plants ...So I had to give it a try .

           (5) Spinach : It tastes so good cooked or in salad :) It is just starting to grow .

              (6) Peas : Green peas ,,,here is another plant giving lots of vegetables .

          (7) Onion : I also planted for the first time some kind of green onions .

I also gave a try to yellow squash , carrots , lettuce , and Brussel sprouts ...but I haven't gotten any luck with any of those yet , We will see what happens .

Trees : We have two fruit trees in our yard : an alrgerian mandarin tree and a dwarf lemon tree . They are growing slowly .

           (1) Mandarin tree: We add some chicken manure every year in the spring . The flowers of this tree smell so good !

             (2) Dwarf lemon tree : Our dwarf lemon tree is considerably younger ,but I saw it grow in size this year :)

Flowers : And of course , a garden has to have flowers ! I haven't had much luck with those this year . As I said we have squirrels in our yard and they tend to dig holes and destroy this area where I plant my flowers . Unlike the herbs and vegetables , I try to plant the flowers directly in the ground .

          (1) Nasturtium : It is starting to grow . It likes a drier environment .

          (2) Mammoth sunflowers :  Only one of the seed I planted seem to grow ...and it seems that some insect may be eating their leaves :( We'll see what happens .

           (3) Sunflowers: Earlier during the year I had planted some smaller sunflowers in a planter on my porch . And those ones look just stunning !

I am still waiting to see if any other flowers I planted will grow ....

Garden creatures : Of course when you garden , it will bring some creatures , some good , some not as good .

Here is a little snail after a rainy day :

And here is the little guy who is keeping me company whenever I go check my plants  :)

I hope you enjoyed this post and you will start growing your own garden. In the meantime ,  will try to keep mine alive and if I do , I will write another post later with more pictures .