Enjoy the Art of Gardening with Your Children

You and your children can create a family garden together; it will offer your family some interesting and fun outdoor adventures. Sharing these gardening projects together will form memories that will last a lifetime. Dig in and get your hands dirty as you spend quality time with your children and teach them the art of growing, planting, and reaping the benefits of nature. 

Begin by walking around your yard with your children looking for a sunny yet out of the way area that would be suitable for your family garden. Once you have chosen an area that you plan on using it's time to sit down and draw out your garden plans. Map out the area that you have decided on and then figure out what flowers, vegetables, and/or herbs you would like to plant this year. To start, you may want to limit yourselves to three or four different flowers and vegetables each. Then as the years go on you can pick and choose what grew well and what was a family favorite. Gardening is so much fun and the more chances you take by trying new plants and vegetables the better.

It's a good practice to rotate your plants (crops) every other year; it will make for a more vibrant garden. This technique allows the soil to take a break from the same types of plants and it offers different nutrients to the soil. Let your children get completely involved with the seedlings and planting. They won't harm the plants; and even if a plant or two snaps in the process, just chalk it up to experience.

The process is easy to begin: start your plants from seed in your house. Carrots, radishes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and sunflowers are hardy plants to start with. You can purchase some peat moss planters to put the seeds in. These planters are great because you just put the entire container in the ground once the plants grow to about two to four inches tall. Use potting soil to fill each peat moss holder, then gently place a few seeds in each one and lightly cover them over with more soil. Gently water each section, and then cover the container with plastic wrap or slip them into a large baggie. The plastic covering acts as a green house. Place the containers on a sunny windowsill. Make sure you place a tray under the planting because the peat moss pots get soft and soggy when they are wet and can fall apart if you lift them. You'll also want to protect your windowsill from spills or moisture.

The moisture from the plants will stay sealed in the container with the plastic wrap covering it so that they will not need to be wa-tered for about five days. When the soil looks dry, uncover the container and gently water your plants and then cover them up again. Once the plants are about a half-inch to an inch tall you can remove the wrap. I still allow the plants to grow indoors for another week or so until they are at least three inches tall.
While your seedlings are growing indoors you should begin working outside by getting the soil ready for your flowers and vegetables.

Begin by marking off an area of your yard where you would like to plant your garden. I usually plant my flowers in different spots around the yard. Just remember to mark off with twine or yarn and sticks where you have your plantings so that they don't get stepped on and can be lightly watered daily. Before you put the plants in the ground you need to turn the soil over. Use a pointed shovel to dig down about a foot, then lift up the soil and flip it over. Do this over and over until you have turned the soil over in the entire area you have planned for your garden. Your children will love this process; they can also dig and flip the dirt over right alongside of you. If your children only have a square snow shovel that is their size they can help to return the soil that you have already turned over once. The more aeration the soil gets, the better.

You can slowly build up your gardening supplies over time; you only need a few basic pieces of equipment to get started. Gardening supply shops, Home Depot, or your local hardware store will have a variety of shovels and hoes, rakes and seeds for you to choose from in a variety of weights. Handle and then chose the gardening tools that are most comfortable for you and your children.

Having fun and working outside together with your family is the best part of gardening. This activity allows your children to help you every step of the way. Sure, it may take longer to dig and plant your garden, but it's well worth it. This is an experience you and your children will always remember. I still remember working outside in the garden with my dad; we had such a great time together. And once the plants start growing and producing flowers and vegetables, it's like magic.

Cucumbers are quite hardy but they do need a small fence or something to climb up on as they grow; it also helps them to keep any bugs off of their leaves. Peppers, radishes, and carrots are all hardy plantings and offer a beautiful showing. There is nothing like the taste of homegrown vegetables.

You and your children will need to spend some time each week weeding your garden and around your flower beds to keep the plants and roots strong and healthy. By watering the plants every evening or early in the morning the leaves will avoid burning in the sun.

Gardening with your children is a wonderful adventure. If you start with a small garden it won't be overwhelming and you can enjoy it together every step of the way. Working outside is a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable way to spend quality time with your children. When you sit down and eat your harvest you will all be so proud of your backyard gardening efforts.

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