Grow, Baby, Grow!

| July 13, 2009 | 0 Comments

vegetablegarden

This Spring, my husband and I decided to make our large balcony into a container veggie garden instead of buying $100 worth of annuals as we’ve always done before. I asked him first what he thought about growing some vegetables out ther and his response was, “Why not do all vegetables?”. Yes! Why not? I couldn’t think of a reason, so I headed out to buy seeds, soil and other odds and ends we would need. For Mother’s Day, my mom took me to a gardening center and bought me $20 worth of organic vegetable plants at $1.99 each. We thought that was a steal, so I got orange and yellow peppers, three types of tomatoes, and some strawberry plants. My dad dug up some of his mint, one of my friends donated a hearty chive plant, and I planted lettuces, beets, peas and green beans from seed. Off to a good start!

But what did all of this have to do with my inquisitive toddler? I wanted to get him involved to give him a sense of pride and ownership in the produce, as well as help him make the connection to where our food comes from. I also wanted it to be a fun summer project for he and I, so I hunted around for some ideas and kid-friendly gardening products.

The first thing I bought for him was an eco-friendly gardening kit by Green Toys, which is cute as well as functional. It came with a cute peapod-shaped tray, 3 pots, 3 organic seed packets and soil disks, and a sturdy garden trowel. This set can be purchased at Grasshopper 510, Psycho Baby, and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. You can also click here to find another locally-owned store near you. Since my 2 year old tends to flood the pots when we waters, we never saw the sunflower or basil make it to the leaf stage, but the zinnias are looking great!

Our next project was to sign up to attend a friend’s “planting playdate”. Our friend set each child up with a clay pot and some chalk and foam stickers to decorate it. (We sprayed hairspray on the pots to keep the chalk from rubbing off) Then we headed outside and stuffed some newspaper into the pots, added organic potting soil and placed our sweet pea seeds on top. The last steps were to add a little more dirt to cover the seeds and give it all a good drink (and I think I’ve already mentioned that under-watering is never a problem for my child!). The Sweet Peas came up this past week and they are looking great, so apparently this pretty flower is a good flood-hearty choice for those of us with toddlers that love a watering can.

The last seed related project we started this spring is an oldie but goodie. I got a zip-top sandwich bag and folded some toilet paper to fit inside. I gave my little guy some seeds to choose from, and he added them to the bag. We ended up with a few peas and green beans, and one beet seed in the baggie. Then I let him use a spray bottle to squirt some water into the bag. We sealed it and taped it to our window and checked on it every few days. After a couple days my son noted that the beans looked bigger, and he was right! Shortly after, they sprouted little roots, and then it was fun to check their progress daily. One of the green bean sprouts grew all the way to the top of the bag, so this weekend we decided to plant the sprouted seedlings in the pots where the basil and sunflower seeds had been washed away.

As the summer goes on, my hope is that my son will like to check on and water his plants, as well as helping me water mine. We can also pick the produce as it ripens and then see it later on our plates! So whether you buy cute trendy products or are more of the home-made science-project type, try growing something with your kids this summer! Chances are they will have fun while learning about plants and nature, and it’s a fun way to spend some time together.

Photo Credit: by Sint Smeding via Flickr

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About the Author ()

Kristen Holub, mother of 2 and creator of EcoActivista.com, is an artist and business owner turned stay-at-home mom. She makes conscious and mindful decisions to keep the household eco-friendly and shares tip and tricks for others to do the same. She can always be found running around town with her kids, as she jots down and shares their great finds in the city.

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