Go Green Part 3: Gardening With Children

I don’t know about you, but after this long and tenacious winter, I look forward to getting outdoors as soon as the weather is warmer.  Most kids love the natural world and what better way to introduce them to the wonders of nature than with a garden. Planting and watching things grow is rewarding, satisfying and good exercise. Don’t know where to begin?  There are many wonderful resources and websites with specific tips and ideas for gardening with children.  Before I list some of these sites, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Keep things simple. You don’t have to dig up your entire yard to reap the benefits of gardening. Start with a small raised bed or a large container or two.

2. Try fast growing crops such as lettuces, chives, radishes, spinach, herbs and the like.

3. Let your kids have a say in what they grow. If you’re trying to encourage them to eat more veggies, let them pick the ones they would like to try. I’ll bet they get excited about tasting them once they see them pop up in the garden.

4. Make weeding and watering part of the daily routine. That way you will keep the unwanted weeds under control and ensure that the seeds get a fair chance at sprouting. Always weed when soil is moist to avoid damaging roots of tender plants.

5. Check out the library for gardening books for beginners and children.             lettuce

Make it fun!  See whose seeds sprout first, whose veggies grow fastest, are tallest, etc. When it comes time to harvest, let the kids plan a meal using the fruits – and veggies – they grew.

Here are some great gardening sites to get you started:

Gardening with Children from Earth Easy

Ten Tips on Gardening with Kids from the American Community Gardening Association

Gardening with Children from the BBC  This site tells you how to compost, cultivate earth worms, use beneficial insects for pollination and has many child-friendly activities related to gardening and the outdoors.

 Stimulating Imagination in the Garden from Kids Gardening

My First Garden  from the University of Illinois

Happy Growing – and eating!                                tomatoes

Go Green Part 2: Spring Planting

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of winter and being confined indoors.  Spring  officially begins today and what better way to celebrate than to make something grow.  You can start with a few pots of seedlings on  a sunny windowsill.  Chives, lettuce, spinach, radishes, parsley, or other herbs, all grow fairly quickly and are easy to care for.  Red Ted has some wonderful ideas for spring planting. Try their SEED BOMBS  http://www.redtedart.com/2014/02/12/how-to-make-seed-bombs-recipe/  and GRASS HEADS  http://www.redtedart.com/2012/04/04/kids-crafts-grass-heads/    and watch your kids get hooked on making things grow.  http://www.redtedart.com

As I stepped outside this morning, I was greeted by a sure sign of spring:  Daffodils. Check out this photo from one of my flower beds.              daffodilsHappy Planting and Happy Spring!

Want Butterflies?

Tis the season for that beautiful insect that even bug hating people can’t resist…butterflies.  If you want to lure these colorful creatures to your backyard, try planting MILKWEED.  (see photo)  Go to: http://www.monarchwatch.org  to find out which varieties of milkweed will thrive in your area.  The plants are easy to grow and come back year after year.  You can also mix them in with your other flowers.       milkweedYour garden should be aflutter in no time.

If you’d like to watch the MIGRATION of the Monarch butterfly, catch the IMAX film FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES IN 3D at a museum near you.