Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Elizabeth Street


Gardening With Kids Is One Way To Plant A Seed In Their Growing Minds

Jun 27, 2013

Gardening With Kids Is One Way To Plant A Seed In Their Growing Minds

Even if the only green patch in your life is a window box, it’s still totally possible to enjoy a little gardening this summer—better yet, why not get your kids in on the action and enlist their help in cultivating some veggies, flowers and herbs? Gardens are the ultimate outdoor craft project—we asked landscape consultant and gardener Kirsten Myhr, who has tended some of the toniest rooftop gardens in New York City, for suggestions on involving little ones in the garden.

Q: What are the best things to plant with kids?
A: Little ones always love an edible garden. It's fun to harvest and eat what you've planted and also safe for wee ones with a penchant for putting things in their mouths. Standard herb or vegetable gardens all do well in containers, with bigger vegetables like tomatoes requiring their own pots, as they need lots of space. Edible flowers like nasturtium, pansy, marigold, and calendula all make delicious additions to salads, and kids will love the idea of plucking flowers to eat--just make sure to educate them about edible vs. non-edible plants. Chives have a nice purple flower and different varieties of basil and sage are all pretty simple to grow. Swiss chard is nice and colorful and does surprisingly well in containers and is easy to grow from seed-you’ll have produce all season long, as it is really hardy--you just pull off the outer leaves as you go to harvest. I would do a mix of heights with the sweet potato vine or nasturtiums, as they'll hang over the edge of the pot nicely.

Q: Can you recommend any fun hands-on projects?
A: Starting things from seed can be really fun. Beans are super easy (as are most vines for that matter). You could plant some as per the package instructions in the pots and then put some others into plastic baggies with wet paper towels so the kiddos can see how the seed sprouts.

Q: What about involving older kids?
A: A garden that attracts bees and butterflies is a great longer-term project for bigger kids who can be a bit more patient. Echinacea, which is one of my favorites, Bee Balm, Asclepias, Cosmos, Black eyed Susans, Zinnia (which need a big pot) Coreopsis, Borage, Clovers, Day Lily, Lavender, Phlox...all good attractors of bees, who are very important pollinators! And as long as you don’t swat at them, you don’t need to worry about being stung.

There you have it! White Flower Farm is a great resource for seed packets and seedlings,  and this teeny gardening tool kit is perfectly sized for little hands to get working in the dirt.

By Biba Milioto

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