By Guest Blogger Carrie Sockwell, author of Our Carolina Home
I am going to start this by saying I am not an expert in gardening but I love to give it a try each year. There is something about watching a small seed or plant grow into food or a gift for someone. It is not only fun for me but it is fun for my kids. They are taking ownership in a garden, in their foods and play space. So again, while I am not an expert, I love to try. Now, after a couple years of trial and error I have figured out what makes a garden a perfect space for kids and what is easy to grow.
My first bit of advice is to start small and find the sun!
There are so many plants and flowers out there that it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s like where do you start, what will actually grow and not die. Where do I begin? If this is your first year with a garden, start out with a few veggies, fruits, or flowers and plant them in a sunny place. No one is giving you an award for going all out at the beginning. It can become overwhelming in the middle of summer keeping up with the watering, harvesting and management of a lot of items. So start small with something that interests you and your kids. Some of the easiest plants that I have had success with are cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, squash, and peppers. If you are looking for easy flowers to grow, try Zinnias. They are resilient and will continue to grow after you pick them. Perennials (plants that come back year after year) are another great way to grow flowers. Hydrangeas and Knockout Roses are simple and do not require much maintenance.
Now that you have your veggies and flower picked out, where do you put them? Well, there are a lot of different places to plant them.
Most of this time you see people use raised beds or they just work up the ground and plant them there. However, if you are starting small, you might not need all of that. You can grow plants in barrels, horse troughs, pots, tires, or boots. Get creative and look around the house to see what you already have. If you do want to start some raised beds, you can easily do that with some simple plans. Our first year we started with three little beds. Since then we have added on with some bigger beds.
Next, add some flare to your garden to make it fun for the kiddos. Add color and creativity by making a birdhouse, fairy gardens or flags. Let them help make this space theirs. My girls love butterflies so we have added some butterfly bushes and a butterfly house to help attract them. It is an easy way to add a little magic to your garden.
Now that your veggies, fruits and flowers have been planted, it’s time to love it. Keep it watered and check in daily to see if you have things that are ready to be picked. Get rid of those weeds to help the plant reach its full potential. Then enjoy the hard work.
My girls love to harvest and most of the time eat the veggies and fruits straight out of the garden. It’s a great way to get your kids to try new things. For some reason it looks more appetizing when they have spent time watching it grow. I love to make pasta salad with our vegetables or share the flowers with our friends and neighbors. One of my girls has started to make her own pickles, naming them Big A Pickles. She has brought them to her teachers and friends and is so proud of them!
The ownership in our garden is by far my favorite thing. So don’t give up when it gets hard and challenging. Anyone can do it with a little perseverance.
Want to see more blogs like this and get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to Triad Moms on Main’s free weekly newsletters here.