As we gear towards summer and with the weather warming up, now is the perfect time to start your summer garden plans. As the kids are getting ready for whatever summer activities that you’ve planned, incorporate a summer garden for them as well. Gardening is therapeutic as well as tons of fun! It’s great for getting kids outside and for them to connect with nature. As long as you provide even a small area for them to work on then I guarantee your kids will develop a life long joy in gardening.
There are several different types of gardens but the easiest to start and maintain would be these: vegetable and fruit garden, cutting flower garden, and herb garden. Any one of these three gardens would be great for beginners as they can easily start with seeds or seedlings from a garden store. The benefits of these three types of gardens are that the bounty is usually enough for a full harvest and that they are beautiful to look at in your yard!
Let’s start with the basics:
Tools – small gardening shovel/spade, gardening gloves, small hand held rake.
Seeds – lettuce, radish, cucumbers, beans, sunflowers, marigold, herbs. Try to buy organic as you’ll be eating these plants.
Seedlings – tomato, broccoli, cilantro, wildflowers, corn, strawberries. Try to buy organic as you’ll be eating these plants.
Vegetable and fruit garden:
Vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and greens including lettuce, spinach, and kale, citrus fruits including lemons and oranges, beans, radishes, pumpkins, carrots, beets, and bell peppers are all very easy to grow and maintain. These types of fruits and vegetables have been cultivated for years to ensure a healthy growth and popularity. Plus, most of these species are recognized by children and have probably been eaten on a regular basis. Start with the basic and generic varieties and then experiment with heirloom ones.
Cutting flower garden:
Cutting flowers are ones that usually grow in stalks and can easily be cut to put into vases. Great varieties include sunflowers, zinnias, lavender, daisies, dahlias, and salvia. Notice that there are annuals and perennials so plan according to how you want your garden to look during the year or years. Annuals are plants that have to planted every year so it’s natural that they die out after a couple of seasons. Perennials come back year after year if you remember to take care of them during the various seasons.
Herb gardens are probably one of the easiest garden to maintain. Herbs grow super fast and can spread widely if you’re not careful of spacing. Plus, herbs are delicious in meals, beverages, and even to keep away those pesky garden pests! Best herbs to grow are mint (spearmint or peppermint), parsley (try this yummy recipe that kids will enjoy: http://deliciousliving.com/herbquiches), basil, chives, sage, and cilantro. They are all quite fragrant and works well with most recipes. Try fresh mint in lemonades and juice and chopped fresh parsley over tomato soup. If your kids are hesitant about herbs, have them rub their fingers between the leaves and then smell the plant or fingers. The delicious aroma will encourage them to try gardening with herbs and they’re fun to harvest as well.
You can start your garden either directly in the ground or in planters. Planter gardening seems to have grown in popularity and it’s really easy to move the planters around for sunlight and shade. Plus, you can get really creative with your planters such as using soup cans, milk cartons, and tires. Or you can use the traditional planters such as terra cotta and ceramic as they will look just as beautiful and unique. Just remember that most planters attract a lot of heat so keep the plants well watered and fertilized. For in-ground planting, start off with a small patch of space such as a 5’x5′ area and make sure the soil is well amended. A good rule of thumb with any type of planting is making sure that the soil starts off right. If you want the proper type of soil, check out gardening stores and speak to experts on the type of soil in your region. Remember to also water your plants thoroughly and well. Some plants require daily watering while some can grow well with less watering. Take care of pests as well by using natural pesticides so that it’s safer for your children and for your garden. Wear gloves if you’re unsure of what type of soil you have and wear a hat to keep out the harsh sun rays.
So start planning your summer garden with your kids now. Take them to a garden center and let them browse the entire store. They’ll get inspired when they see all the beautiful and colorful plants and hopefully you can take home some plants and seeds that same day. Remember that the garden doesn’t have to be big. In fact, start off smaller so that it’s easier to maintain for yourself and your kids. Once you get the hang of gardening, experiment with rare plants or make your garden area even bigger.
For some great gardening ideas, be sure to check out Martha Stewart’s gardening section: https://www.marthastewart.com/286309/vegetable-garden-101
And for easy and delicious recipes for the summer, check out Delicious Living Magazine: http://deliciousliving.com/recipes/6-hydrating-summer-recipes#slide-0-field_images-306921
*photos courtesy of Martha Stewart Living
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