April vacation is coming up April 16-20 for most local students — and if you’ve got grandchildren coming to visit during that time, here’s a great way to keep little hands busy and get your garden started! Our Dirigo Pines residents have created some amazing gardens, and everyone at the Inn has the opportunity each spring to claim a raised bed of their own. Planting seeds, watching them grow and harvesting yummy fruits and vegetables is a great hobby for all ages. Here are a few tips for gardening with kids…
- Plant the seed. Let kids choose their own seeds to grow. Sure, they might pick some strange vegetables to try, but why not give it a shot? And throw in a few old stand-bys — tomatoes, zucchinis and cucumbers all appreciate an inside start — or try radishes if kids are eager to see the seeds start quickly.
- Watch the process. Starting seeds from the very beginning is a fascinating thing to watch. Try sprouting a few seeds in a wet paper towel or cotton ball so kids can watch what happens. Simple spread the seeds out evenly on a damp paper towel, then sandwich with another moist towel and tuck them inside a plastic baggie and set in a warm, sunny window. You can even transfer them to soil after they sprout.
- Plan your garden. Many Dirigo residents in our cottage community enjoy large flower and vegetable gardens in their yards, but even with limited space, you can enjoy gardening. Lots of vegetables, from tomatoes to cucumbers to beans, come in varieties perfect for small spaces and container gardens. Have children map out the garden on paper with colored pencils or crayons to decide where things will get planted. A gardening journal is another fun way to track your progress.
- Plant in pots or raised beds. Pots and raised beds not only help keep weeds to a minimum, they also help bring the garden a little closer to you to reduce the bending and kneeling related to gardening directing in the ground. Raised beds can be built tall enough to eliminate any bending at all – saving your back! Pots can be placed on patios and porches and even on rollers, so those with limited mobility can keep their thumbs green.
- Crafty decor. While you’re waiting for things to sprout, make a project out of garden markers. Painted rocks or sticks make great garden row markers. Wind chimes from recycled materials and simple stepping stones are great garden additions as well.
- Go big! Consider some fun giants like sunflowers and pumpkins for your garden, and let a zucchini or two just keep growing. Kids will love watching them get bigger and bigger each day.
- Reap the rewards. Gardening is a great way to get kids eating healthy. Be sure to involve them in the harvest!
- Bring it in. Bring the outside in for those who can’t make the trip to the yard or have limited outdoor gardening space. Create a garden in indoor pots or create a low-maintenance terrarium.