Spring has sprung and summer is right around the corner! Warmer days beckon us outdoors to soak up the sunshine. When bike rides, bubble blowing, and sidewalk chalk have been exhausted, what can families do to grow together? Plant a garden!
“Gardening with kids is a great way to get the kids outside and involved in the environment around them,” said Laura Girbach, General Manager of KBK Garden Center in Saline. “Nature is the best way to lift spirits and learn to enjoy what the outdoors has to offer.”
Proven Winners’ Club Sprout Program lists several gardening and yard projects geared towards elementary aged children. Visit their website for fun ways to get your kids involved in the garden, including local events they host.
Know What to Grow in Your Garden
Hoping to encourage healthy food habits with a garden-to-table experience? Here are a few fun ideas.
Pizza Garden: Try a round garden bed “sliced” into sections. In each slice, grow the vegetables and herbs needed to make pizza. Tomatoes, onions, and peppers are good options for the pizza sauce and toppings. Don’t forget the herbs, like basil, oregano, parsley, and thyme. Hint: a lot of these herbs and vegetables will also make a great homemade spaghetti sauce if you have a bountiful harvest at the end of the season.
Salsa Garden: Looking for a way to spice up Taco Tuesdays? Try a salsa garden. Plant lots of Roma tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic, and peppers. Make certain to check the heat index on those peppers, as varieties can range from mild to super hot. Many of these selections can be planted together in a large patio pot, too.
Salad Bowls: It is easy to grow your own greens using shallow bowl-style planters. Make sure each planter has good drainage holes. Fill pots with garden soil and scatter with seeds like spinach, loose-leaf lettuce, arugula, romaine, or kale.
Just for Fun Gardens
Gardening isn’t all about the produce. Some plants are just plain fun (and easy) to grow.
Sunflowers: Kids love to see how high sunflowers can grow. Choose a sunny spot and plant directly in the ground after the threat of frost. Some sunflowers can even be harvested and roasted for the seeds (if the birds and squirrels don’t get to them first!).
Pumpkin Patch: If you have a large area, think about starting a pumpkin patch. Pumpkin vines will need a lot of room to roam. There are many varieties that range in size and color. Make certain you read the directions on proper planting times for each variety. If you plant too soon, you could end up with pumpkins for the Fourth of July and not Halloween.
Garden Teepee: Kids love to grow their own teepees. With a few bamboo poles, a spool of string, and a package of seeds, kids can grow a secret room outdoors. Consider using bean pole seeds, morning glory seeds, or sweet pea seeds.
Garden Journal: Turn the garden project into an educational experience by encouraging kids to keep a garden journal throughout the season. Measure and record the progress of plants. Keep track of watering and fertilizing. Draw pictures of plants and flowers in their various stages. A garden journal is a great way to combine science, math, literacy, and art in one lesson.
For free downloads and projects, visit the Club Sprout website.