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Archive for the ‘gardening’ tag

April 28th, 2014 at 9:13 am

Planting a Container Herb Garden

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I like to think I have a green thumb, but I’m not really good at gardening. In the spring I get excited about plants and the colors and greenery, but as the summer wears on I get tired of weeding and trimming and watering. Then I let everything go wild and out of control.

Regardless, I am good at growing herbs in a container. First, they require little to no weeding, they are trimmed all the time, and because I pick them often, I tend to water them regularly. I love to use fresh herbs in the summer, adding basil to pasta salads, cilantro to my black bean salsa, and parsley to meatballs and tomato sauce. They are the three herbs you will always find on my patio, but I have also grown mint, thyme, rosemary, and lavender.

Some of the best herbs for container gardens are:

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Tarragon
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

I like to mix several herbs in a pot. Most herbs need full sun or at least 8 hours of sunlight and dry conditions, and they tend to thrive in soil that is lean (meaning not a lot of fertilizer). I’ve never tried growing my herbs inside, but I do love to dry them towards the end of the summer. They will grow in different types of pots and can be worked into your deck, patio, window box, or front steps. When the plant reaches 6-8″ tall, you can harvest by cutting 1/3 of the branches. This will replenish and you will have amazing herbs all summer long. Plus, the scent off of the plants is amazing!

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March 27th, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Spring Gardening Preparation

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If you like to garden, or want to start one, now’s the time to get ready for planting! (Did we mention that April is National Gardening Month?) As the ground thaws, soil needs to be prepared in order to create the best growing medium for your plants. Different types of plants require different kinds of care, including the timing of their planting, exposure to sunlight, supplemented nutrition, watering, spacing, and harvesting. Get your kids involved and let them help you however they can. Here are some basic guidelines for starting your spring planting.

  1. Determine your frost date. If you live in an area where you get a true winter, it’s important that you know your area’s frost date to avoid planting too soon. There are quite a few online resources to help you figure it out. Try Dave’s Garden…you just put in your zip code and it tells you your frost risks and timing.
  2. Choose your plants. Gather your bulbs and seeds and determine which ones need to be planted first. Some plants can survive colder temperatures.
  3. Section your garden. Plants should be grouped by type and care. Vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, etc. should have their own sections. Keep their “requirements” in mind when you create your sections…some need lots of direct sunlight, while others thrive in shady spots.
  4. Test your soil. You should first make sure the soil is ready to be prepared. Heavy soil that is still wet from snow and rain will not let your plants breathe. You can tell it’s ready when you pick it up, squeeze it into a ball with your hands, and then drop it, or poke it. If it crumbles into small particles, it is dry enough to be worked. If it breaks into large clumps or stays in form, it is still too moist. Not all soil is equal, so learning a bit about your native soil will help you understand when it’s ready.
  5. Prepare your soil. There are a lot of things you can do to improve the medium your plants grow in. Without going into too much detail, consider looking into the various soil-improvement methods, including pH testing, composting, fertilizing, tilling, mulching, etc. Hint: Used coffee grounds and egg shells make great fertilizers!
  6. Plant! When your soil is ready, plant your seeds and bulbs, take care of them and watch them grow! Garden maintenance can be tedious, but rewarding. Make sure you water and fertilize as needed, and don’t forget to pick those pesky weeds!

Do you have a garden and have tips to share? Post them and/or pictures of your garden on our Facebook page!

 

Photo Credit: www.ivillage.com

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May 25th, 2013 at 11:11 am

Gardening with Kids

A great thing to do with your kids is get them involved in gardening. Whether it be planting a flower pot, a full garden, or even just a simple plant, gardening offers educational experiences, bonding time, and helps them to learn responsibility by caring for something.  The amazement of a simple seed growing into something is special to the littlest of children.

Some fun gardening things to do with children are:

Create planters out of egg carton, egg shells, or even toilet paper tubes.

Use old toys as planters to make it more kid friendly.

Make the garden colorful through pots or decorations or personalize the garden with handmade stones.

Let your kids go wild by watering the garden. Get them a kid sized watering can and fill a large bucket with water. Have them sink their can in to fill it up and water all the plants.

Grow flowers that attract butterflies, lady bugs, and caterpillars.

Hang bird feeders in flower gardens to attract different birds.

Make them their own sized garden table.

What things do you like to do to make gardening fun for your kids?

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

 

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April 10th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Starting a Garden

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Last week, we gave you some great tips on getting your children started on their very own garden. This week, I’d like to focus more on your own cultivations. Gardening is not only a great an inexpensive way to grow delicious vegetables or make your yard look gorgeous with colorful flowers and shrubs; beautifying your home will make you feel better on the inside.  Here are a few tips for making a beautiful backyard oasis:

Make sure your soil is adequately fertilized!  Instead of buying fertilizer, you can take a trip to the local grocery store! Believe it or not, eggshells can provide soil with the nutrients they need to grow healthy plants.  You can either gather the broken eggshells and grind them into a powder or just put the shells directly on the soil.

Remove any large stones from the soil that will impede the growth of your plants or vegetables.

Decide what you want to grow! Burpee sells more varieties of seeds than I had ever imagined and I get gratifying results. My favorite seeds to plant at this time of year are basil, tomatoes, carrots and broccoli. As for flowers, now is the time to plant annuals. You can either buy the seeds or go to your local nursery for the actual flowers and plant them right into the ground!

Make sure you read the instructions on the back of the package of seeds you buy to determine how deep they must be planted.

Be sure to plant your seeds in an area where they will get direct sunlight. If it’s not raining a lot in your area, you will need to be diligent about providing your plants with adequate water. The higher the temperature, the more water you will need.

Plants need TLC just as humans and animals do. If you follow these steps, you will soon be watching plants and vegetables sprout from the ground and you can enjoy your beautiful new garden!  Happy planting!

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April 3rd, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Gardening for Kids

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Gardening is an outdoor activity you can involve your kids in easily, and it’s a great learning experience for them. It’s an opportunity for you to teach them about plants and how they grow, healthy foods like vegetables and fruit, and most importantly, responsibility, all while still having fun! Here are some tips for how to introduce your child to the wonders of gardening:

1)   Designate an area as his/her own garden.

Plywood planks can be used to actually make a square garden box for them, or you can just give them an area of your landscape. Let them help you “prepare the area” with weeding, tilling, fertilizing, etc.

2)   Let them make decisions.

When you go to the store to purchase your gardening needs, let them choose one to three different seeds or bulbs. Steer them in the right direction by helping them pick ones that don’t require special care and are easy and fast-growing, like beans, sunflowers, morning glory, and marigolds . Teach them about the different types of plants and help them understand that some need special light, soil, watering, etc.

3)   Teach them how to plant.

Help them do the planting but guide them instead of actually doing. You’ll be surprised how much your little one will enjoy poking holes in the soil, dropping in seeds, covering them and watering the area.

4)   Teach them to organize and maintain.

Help them create garden labels by writing the names on popsicle sticks so they can keep track of where they placed their different plant types. Then, help them create a “growth chart” where they can keep track of how the plants are doing and remind them to water and take care of them.

You’ll see how excited your kids will get as they see their plants grow. If you choose vegetables, when they’re ripe for picking you can teach them how to harvest and clean them, and EAT them! This website  has even more tips and tricks for family gardening.

What will YOU plant with your kids this year?

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May 14th, 2012 at 5:00 am

The Lessons from Gardening with Kids

It was Earth Day just a few short weeks ago and I helped organize a project at school to plant a flower garden. It was amazing to watch the kids help to dig up the earth, plant the flowers and add mulch. As I watched I realized the things that the children were learning in addition to the actual process of planting a garden. They were learning how to care for something – the water, the mulch, the fresh soil. They were so excited to watch it grow and flower.

We have had a flower garden at our home since the boys were little. It is filled with things I have gotten from people, purchased and have been given as gifts. Every Mother’s Day I get a special thing for our garden. One year I received a statue of two frogs playing leap frog and another I received a magnolia bush that blooms around this time every year. This year I received a beautiful bird bath to attract birds and butterflies. They picked it out in honor of a family’s favorite song on Kids Place Live – Butterfly Driving a Truck! So cute…….

The boys love to help me  in the garden, whether it be weeding, spreading mulch, or transplanting flowers. The garden is a great place for them to learn about bugs, flowers, birds, and plants. We love to see the butterflies dance around and the worms in the soil. One year I purchased kid size gardening gloves and kneelers for them to use when helping me, which they loved. They look forward to the times I ask them to water and are slowly learning when to expect certain plants to flower; the tulips in the spring, the mums in the fall.

There isn’t a great place for us to plant a vegetable garden in our yard, so this year we are attempting to plant a tomato plant in a container. It has been fun to watch the plant grow from seed. I think the boys will have a great time “harvesting” and maybe will even eat some of our bounty.

There are so many lessons to be learned from gardening.

What are your favorite things to grow with your kids?

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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