Gardening with Kids
It’s that time of year again! Our dining room table and a second table are covered with dirt planters! Last week the kids and I planted some seeds together. The kids are always excited to watch the seedlings start to grow. You can tell the kids helped since there are so many seedlings in that one pot to the right!!
We also weeded and worked on one part of our vegetable garden last week since I won’t be allowed to lift things or do much for the next couple of weeks (I had to have ear surgery). Since there’s still a chance that the temperatures will dip down low at night, the person at the nursery suggested putting big plastic bins over the tomato plants to protect them at night. We’ve always used milk jugs, but the bigger rubber-maid type bin was a fabulous idea! I used the tomato trellis to hold the bin from blowing away in strong winds. I’ll let you know how that worked. Maybe I’ll just have dead tomato plants, but I’m still feeling my way around these gardening adventures.
We also bought and planted another cherry tree. Last fall we bought a peach tree and on a whim added a cherry tree to the purchase… only to realize at home that it needed another tree to cross-pollinate. So we planted that out in our wood cutting area last week. So since we moved in a year and a half ago we added 50 strawberry plants, 15 blueberry bushes, two apple trees, that peach tree and two cherry trees. I hope to see the fruits of our labor some day!!
Last year we purchased the Junior Master Gardener curriculum put out by Texas A&M University. I’d give that curriculum five stars and two thumbs up! There is SO much you can do with this–more ideas than you could possibly finish in one season. It is geared at grades 3-5, but I can easily use it with my preschooler (in parts) and suspect it’d just fine as an independent study for older kids. The handbook has activities for kids to do on their own. The teacher/leader guide has hundreds upon hundreds of activities, experiments and projects to do with your kids (or a group of kids). Someone asked last year if you need to purchase both — I would.
It’s still a little early for us to break it out, but since some families dive into garden activities with their kids I wanted to mention is now. Here’s a bit more about the handbook: I opened the handbook to a random page (right). It suggests that kids release a package of ladybug larvae into the garden and talks about what the larvae look like and why they are so beneficial to the garden. It has the kids draw a picture that includes garden pests and beneficial insects. Then those pages go on to talk about fungi, looking for mushrooms, and experiments with yeast. That’s just two random pages. This year I ordered DD her own handbook to write in and work from.
Last year I wrote a bit about some of our activities with the Junior Master Gardener program. Those give you even more details as to why I like the curriculum so much. You can view those old posts here–Our New Gardening Science Curriculum and here–Garden Science. Oh and by the way, just so you all know I found out about this program in one of my yahoo groups and purchased it on my own.
One last thing about gardening. Last year the Homeschool Village had a garden challenge from March 31 to June 30. I don’t know if they plan to do it again this year, but it was fun watching others work in their gardens and see their progress through the spring and early summer! In the meantime, I’d love to hear if you’ve started thinking about your garden yet!
Before I go, I’m just going to add in that we saw a box turtle for the first time this spring. We see it relatively frequently and it’s neat to see that it’s back. I wonder if they bury themselves like the toads do for the winter? Hmmm… something else to go find out!
I’ve been reading your blog since Parents put it on their facebook the other day. I wanted to comment on this particular post because I think gardening with your kids is such a great thing! We have raised a garden with our dd for a few years now and last year at the ripe old age of barely four (March baby) she remembered the basic steps of till the ground (she called it Daddy has to use his digger, lol) then make the rows (make lines) put the seeds down/cover them up, and water them! In the fall she remembered how to can tomatoes! WOW! She’s learned more science from our garden than some kids learn by 2nd grade and she isn’t even in school yet! This year we too are starting our garden with plants inside and out. Happy growing. PS. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the hands on approach and go with attitude of the activities you have shared here!