Has the beginning of 2020 been a tad different that what you had planned? It certainly has been for our family, as well as most of the people that I talk to and connect with. It’s been a bit challenging to say the least…and a lot of folks are at home with their children all the sudden! Feels like we’re waking up in a new world, huh? Hopefully by the time you’re reading this, our Stay at Home Quarantine has been lifted and things are getting somewhat back to normal. However, they may not be and this may be the new normal for a while. If so, why not take advantage of this priceless time and introduce your children to gardening? Here are some tips below to help you!
- Get good quality child-sized garden tools.
- Have the child make a special ornament for his/her garden.
- Pick seeds that are easy to handle and plants that are easy and reliable such as Nasturtiums, Marigolds, Zinneas, Scarlet Runner Beans, Sunflowers, etc.
- Plant the children’s garden over several days, if necessary, to maintain attention.
- Start seeds inside under florescent light for slow growing flowers, because kids enjoy having things growing.
- Plant the child’s name using alfalfa seed or grass seed planted in a tray of cotton fluff or potting soil
- Have child decorate a Styrofoam cup as a face. Fill the cup with dirt and plant it with grass seed. As the grass grow the child can give it “haircuts”.
- Make stepping stones for the children’s garden that feature their hand &/or foot prints from concrete (add fiberglass filaments to strengthen for cold weather durability).
- Grow carrot tops by cutting off all but 1″ of the carrot (potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables work as well). Stick 4 toothpicks into carrot around sides and place over a cup of water with the carrot slightly into the water. Plant orange seeds to start an orange (grapefruit or lemon) tree for in your home.
- Save seeds of flowers (marigolds, sunflowers, etc) or vegetables (beans, pumpkins, etc.) to plant next year. Place seeds on paper plates until dry and store in a sealed jar until planting season. It is good to learn that we don’t have to buy seeds; we can find them and save them.
- Take cuttings together from ivies, geraniums, or other easy to root plants. Plant a terrarium together in an old aquarium or large glass bowl.
- In the garden, children like extremes. Plant huge sunflowers and other large plants in one area. In another area grow tiny plants-maybe make a “fairy garden”!
You can make a mini greenhouse to start your plants using empty soda bottles…use green bottles if you can. If you only have clear bottles, punch some extra holes in them or they will get too hot inside and cook your plants.
- Cut the bottom off a 2-liter plastic soft drink bottle. Remove the label and the cap.
- Place the bottle right side up over your seedling and push it far enough into the top hold it upright.
- Once your plants have grown tall enough to touch the top of the inside of the bottle, remove the bottle.
- Don’t let the plant grow through the top you won’t be able to remove it and your plant will not thrive.
Make a Weather Station
It’s important to pay attention to the weather in the summer as the weather affects the growth of plants. We have different weather patterns every year, so our plants grow differently every year. It is easy to put together a few things that help keep track of the weather so that you can write it down in a notebook…your very own weather journal! It’s important to keep the journal going so you can compare this year to last year or several years before.
You will need:
- outside thermometer
- minimum/maximum thermometer (optional)
- sturdy pinwheel
- rain gauge
- Snow measuring stick (make your own with a yard stick mounted to a stake. The stake can secure it into the ground. Make sure the yard stick is touching the ground at 0.)
- Notebook or journal with pencil or pen attached with a string, so it doesn’t get lost.
These items can be purchased inexpensively at many home supplies stores. Once you have purchased them, decide where your weather station will be.
You may have to spread a few items around to have them in the ideal position. When placing the thermometers, make sure they are not in the sun. A place on the north of the house or in a shady area may be best. The pinwheel needs to be placed out in the open where the breeze or wind will blow on it. The rain gauge and the snow measuring stick also needs to be in the open for best measurement.
Once everything is in place take measurements daily. Check the rain gauge each morning. Check the temperature when it is at the hottest, about 4:00pm. The minimum/maximum thermometer is great for telling the highest and lowest temperature each day. Look at the pinwheel to see how strong the winds are, do they change during the day or evening?
As you collect the information (or data), record it in your journal. Each day could have a piece of a page with all the information written out. Have fun with your weather station. Maybe one day you’ll become a meteorologist!
Question: Jimmie, my favorite color is blue! I never see any blue flowers…does this flower exist? If so, can you lead me in the right direction or am I asking for the impossible? Thank You for your time, I know you are a busy man! Lindsey in Prosper
Answer: Hi Lindsey! Well, believe it or not you’re in luck! Check out Blue Daze, Plumbago, Balloon Flower, Victoria Blue or Evolution Blue Salvia, and even a blue Hydrangea (but with our alkaline soil it will eventually turn Pink). Hopefully, you can fulfill your “Blue” flower craving with one or more of those choices!
Until next time…Happy Gardening with those kids and many blessings to all!
Jimmie is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom Outdoor Renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.