Gardening with Kids - How to Make it Fun and Easy
There is something very rewarding about planting vegetables, watching them grow, and enjoying the harvest (however small!). Setting plant pots on a deck is a great option for getting kids involved in gardening. With some good soil and a pair of gardening gloves you will be amazed at what you and the kids can produce!
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Why use plant pots?
Plant pots provide space for a garden at home or at school without having to dig up the ground, although you might want to consider that option if it is available.
Ask for advice at your local nursery or home store for plants that do well in pots for the planting season in your area.
Medium-sized pots are easy to fill with soil and won't be too heavy to move around the deck if necessary. I used 7in. high x 6 in.diameter (18cmx15cm) for the beans and 9 x 14 (23cmx35cm) for the tomatoes. Try a variety of sizes and shapes to see what works best for the plants you choose.
Plant pots require little maintenance, including no weeding!
Our choices of seeds and plants:
Lettuce and beans were grown from seeds. Bean seeds are a nice size for small fingers to handle - making them easy to plant - and they sprout within a few days.
Cherry tomatoes were bought as plants. The produce is easy for small fingers to grasp when ready to be picked.
Lettuce seeds were planted in a long, shallow, plastic container. They can be planted two weeks apart, one row down each side of the container, so different stages of growth can be observed.
Cucumber and tomato plants were bought at a home store. We do not have a long growing season and these plants do well and have a good yield for deck planters.
Now it's time to dig in!:
Assign a small plant pot to each child, labeled with the child's name and contents. Get advice from your local home store or nursery when purchasing soil and fertilizer.
Kids can fill their pots with soil, add a few bean seeds, then help water and fertilize their plants as recommended.
Finally, the exciting part - watching the veggies grow!
Cucumber: Look closely at the yellow flower to see a cucumber emerge. Observe how the cucumber plant grows along the deck (or ground) as opposed to the tomato plant which grows upward and needs to be supported.
Green bean: Watch the beans nearly topple the plants over as they droop from slender stems. Examine the tiny buds where new beans will grow.
Lettuce: Feel and smell the smooth lettuce leaves. Snip some lettuce leaves out of the planter and take them inside to wash and lay flat to dry. Then taste!
Tomato: Peer inside the tomato foliage to see cherry tomatoes ripen on the vine. When some of the tomatoes are just turning orange, take them inside and wrap them in a soft cloth or brown paper to ripen.
Pick and wash veggies to taste at home or at school!
Container gardening provides lots of opportunities for kids to observe and use fine motor skills, as they plant, nurture, and harvest their crops. As well, kids use language and cognitive skills as they discuss their gardening activities during circle time at school or with family and friends at home.
So grab some good soil, pull on a pair of gardening gloves, and prepare to be amazed at what you and the kids will produce! Happy gardening!