In case you missed it, gardening is the new hip hobby to try. There isn’t anything that novel about it — agriculture played a pivotal role in the development of human civilization. However, with a pandemic causing panic, the act of growing food yourself provides a sense of comfort and self-sustainability.
You can make this project a family affair by gardening with your children. You will all benefit from the added outdoor exercise and fresh air. Plus, you can learn techniques to help you save money while working in the good earth. Here’s how to make gardening for kids fun.
Ideas for Your Garden
The first step involves readying the plot if you have one built or identifying a garden patch if you do not. Don’t worry if you dwell in an urban apartment. You can use containers out on your balcony or even line a sunny windowsill.
There are many ways to save money if your budget is tight. Despite what your home center receipts from prior years say, you don’t need a bankroll to grow a successful garden. Here are several ways to conserve cash.
1. Build a Compost Bin
Fertilizer can cost a pretty penny when it comes time to prep your beds. Why not make a homemade version with scraps from your kitchen? You can decrease food waste by building a compost bin to hold your old apple cores, coffee grounds and salad scraps. You can also put your lawn waste to a new use instead of sending it to the landfill.
2. “Recycle” Your Seeds
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and so many people taking up gardening, some areas now have seed shortages for popular varieties. Don’t let the lack of home center packets get you down, though. You can learn how to save the seeds from the organic produce you buy at the grocery or farmers market. Once you get the seedlings started indoors, you can transplant them and enjoy a nearly endless supply of veggie goodness.
3. Repurpose Containers for Small Spaces
If you go to the local home center, you’ll see containers in a variety of sizes and prices. However, why spend a bundle when you can harness your children’s creative talents? If your littles have grown, they might enjoy making homemade pottery — no kiln required. If they are younger, you can have them color pieces of paper cut to fit around old coffee containers and soup cans.
Look around, and you can probably find a ton of items in your recycling bin that you can repurpose and decorate to hold plants.
Best Plants to Grow With Your Kids
Now that you have your supplies, what are the best plants to grow with your children? The most satisfying crops give rapid yields and keep producing fruit long into the season. Here are six of the best to try.
1. Green Beans
This hardy legume thrives in many zones in the United States, but when you plant the seedlings depends on your specific location. Beans can grow upward along a trellis for up to 10 feet. While you can plant them in containers, make sure you provide adequate ladders for them to cling to as they increase in size.
Tomatoes come in multiple varieties, many of which flourish in containers. However, they also do well in a sunny garden patch. You can dry and save tomato seeds and start them in old egg cartons — use an eggshell as an added fertilizer for seedlings. The next time you make lasagna, you can whip up a homemade sauce from vine-ripened organic goodness.
Do you like it hot? Try your luck with some Manzano peppers, which are hotter than a jalepeño but milder than a habanero. While these typically only thrive in select South American mountain regions, the payoff, if you succeed, is worth it. If your kiddos turn up their noses at anything spicy, you can’t go wrong with sweet peppers. Some species of bell peppers contain more vitamin C than an orange.
If you have a sunny spot, put it to good use growing these tasty treats, which need at least eight hours of direct light daily. These plants don’t grow very tall, but they do spread. It only takes about a month from the first bloom for you to see fruit that you can bake into pies or pound into preserves.
5. Pumpkins and Gourds
You won’t have to go any further than your backyard to find the Great Pumpkin this coming Halloween if you plant them in the spring. Pumpkins make a fun family project because you can have a contest to see who can grow the most massive gourd. You won’t have to lug one home from the store to make a jack-o’-lantern, and you can make your own organic and lightly salted pumpkin seeds.
You don’t need a backyard at all to grow an herb garden — try lining a sunny windowsill with chamomile, oregano and basil. Many varieties offer healing properties, as well as adding flavor to meals. You can improve your family’s health while enjoying a nurturing homegrown craft together.
Gardening With Your Kids Is a Healthy Hobby
If you are looking for a hobby to do with your children this summer, why not take up gardening? It doesn’t cost much to get started, and the results are pure deliciousness.