Tag Archives: childrens garden

May Garden Update

I did better this year with the plants I started from seed, but I still don’t have a system down and don’t completely know what I’m doing; I left some plants in the trays for much too long and it seems to have stunted their growth. The plants that I re-potted first were clearly the most happy.

Miss D helping me move tomato plants around while claiming a few of them as her own. “Mine!”

I waited a couple of extra weeks past our last frost date to plant tomatoes and peppers and, with the cold nights we had in late April, I carried these plants in and out of the garage each day for about a week. It was only within the last couple of weeks that I started to put them in the ground, and the garden began to look complete.

The warmer weather coupled with the plentiful rain we received over the last few weeks has really given the garden a boost. Here’s the garden on April 26th.

April 26

Here it is just two weeks later, on May 10th.

May 10

Don’t my potatoes (left middle) look great? The beans got a cold and soggy start and weren’t looking great, so I pulled some of them and replanted. I also planted a row of sweet potatoes last Sunday. I ordered them through a mail-order catalog and would you believe this is what they looked like when they came?

The instructions that came with the plants mentioned that they might be wilted and that I should not be concerned; they are resilient plants and should recover “under the right conditions”. I guess we’ll see if we have the right conditions.

Lastly, there has already been a visitor in the garden foraging on my plants and it appears to enjoy eating the entire plant! It leaves nothing behind but a small hole in the ground where the plant used to be. So far I’ve lost a tomato plant, a Brussels sprout plant, and a sweet potato plant. I don’t remember this happening last year–entire plants disappearing. Based on the hoof print in the fresh mud that I saw the other day, I suspect its deer. I’ll have to start mixing up a home-made deer deterrent. Last year I tried Deer Scram, which seemed to work, but it’s pricey. If you have a tried-and-true deer deterrent that doesn’t involve chemicals or firearms, I’d love to hear it!

By the way, did you notice the children’s garden in the photos above? It’s growing like mad! All of the plants in there are far outperforming the crops in the main garden! I’m not sure what their secret is but I’ve got a lot of work to do!

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A Lesson Learned About Poisonous Plants and Kids

Earlier this week we went to a garden store and I promised the kids they could pick out a plant for their garden. Miss D is a little too small yet to have much of an opinion, but Mr. D quickly settled on this colorful lantana.

He was very particular about waiting until he was “ready” to plant it. Here he is hard at work, patting down the soil around his new plant.

Now, I didn’t realize it until I looked up lantanas on the web, but it turns out these plants are poisonous. Actually, it turns out that a lot of plants are poisonous. No kids or pets have taken a bite out of this lantana, and it’s unlikely that they would. However, last year my daughter was quick to take a bite out of any veggie she found in the garden and so far this year she’s been plucking the heads off the pansies. Though she hasn’t put any of them in her mouth, I wouldn’t need to be concerned if she did because pansies are actually edible flowers. Lantanas are not, and several sites say the berries are poisonous. (This one doesn’t have berries yet.)

Here is my next course of action.

  1. Talk with my kids about edible versus poisonous plants and how they shouldn’t taste or eat any berries, leaves, or flowers, unless Mommy, Daddy or another trusted adult says it’s okay.
  2. Move the lantana to a (non-edible) flower garden, or pot it and put it up and out of reach. (Perhaps in a hanging planter.)
  3. Institute a new rule: edible plants only in the children’s garden (or at least no poisonous plants).
  4. Find myself a good list of poisonous plants (native to Virginia, or common household plants) and familiarize myself with it.

Phew. I was feeling like a bad mama… letting my kids put a poisonous plant in their garden. But now that I have a plan for fixing it, I feel better.

First Harvest from the Children’s Garden

I was out watering the garden this evening and noticed some red peeking out of the corner of the children’s garden, where  my son planted a bunch of radish seeds all in one little spot. They are a little crowded there, so I couldn’t see much under the dense clump of radish leaves without making it a point to look. But when I caught a glimpse of red, I suddenly remembered what a short time it takes for radishes to grow. I took a closer look and saw that there were a few that were probably big enough to pull. I knew my son would love this, so I let him know that he had some radishes in his garden that were ready. He was thrilled! We actually had to talk him into not pulling the rest of them because they weren’t ready. He held one up in the air to show his dad and yelled “Daddy! It’s the biggest radish I ever saw!”

The kids’ garden is so much fun! And they are taking great care of it. My son even mulched it the other day with shredded leaves; it was his own idea. He knows what he’s growing in there, too. The other day I was pointing out and identifying the different plants in their garden, but I wasn’t sure what the one little section of small seedlings were in the middle. He said “I know, Mommy! Those are rainbow carrots!” That’s absolutely what they were! I was so proud. 🙂

Here are our first radishes. I couldn’t get D to taste them, though. So I ate them, and they were delicious.

First Harvest: Spring Onions

What an incredible weekend to be outside in the garden! I didn’t want it to end… especially Sunday. The weather was perfect.

With the snow and rain we got over the last couple of weeks I was starting to get anxious to plant and wanted to get as much in the ground this weekend as I could. We got the garden mostly tilled and ready, which included mixing in some horse manure that my husband picked up two weeks ago. My in-laws were in town and helped keep the kids busy, which gave me some larger chunks of time in the garden than I usually get. (Thank you to E, G, and my hubby!)

Saturday I sowed yellow and sweet onions, lettuce (arugula and simpson), and spinach, and transplanted some lettuce and chard that had come up from last year. I also planted some broccoli and cabbage plants that we got at the garden store just up the road, along with some garlic chives. On Sunday I sowed garden peas, snap peas, kale, turnips, broccoli rabe, and kohlrabi. My son went to the garden store with me on Saturday and he picked out some pansies for the kids’ garden. So, we planted those too, and added a few other fun things, like some pinwheels and river rocks.

As I mentioned, there are some plants that overwintered and are showing new growth. I moved the lettuce and chard to the appropriate plot, based on my crop rotation plan. (The spot where there were will have tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes this year.) Also, while taking compost out of the bottom of our compost bin to put in the garden, I found four cloves of garlic that were sprouting, so I planted them in the garden near the onions. (Why not?)

Finally, we had a bunch of onions in last year’s onion plot that had grown new green stalks. They weren’t onions that I planted in the fall with the expectation of an early spring harvest. They were onions I missed when harvesting them last year, because I wasn’t really sure when I was supposed to pull them out and I did it a little too late, after the stalks on some of the smaller onions completely dried up and withered away. So, they grew back this spring. At the suggestion of my mother-in-law, I pulled them to have as spring onions. They filled a quart size mason jar nicely, so I decided to get a little creative with them before eating them. I’m so excited Spring is finally here!

The Children’s Garden


Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, 
open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers, 
and the mystery of life. 
–  R. Search

———————————–

Since I joined Pinterest last May I’ve been pinning oodles of activities for the kids to do. Most of them are sensory-based play ideas, crafts, or games. I’ve also been pinning a lot of garden-related inspirations. One of the projects I’ve been planning to undertake that crosses over into both of these categories is a children’s garden.

My kids enjoyed being in the garden last year, and my son especially enjoyed planting the seeds and watching them grow. So, when I stumbled upon the pins for children’s gardens on Pinterest, I thought “how perfect!” What better way to teach them patience, tenderness, creativity, and a love of nature, then to have them plant, cultivate, and harvest their own flowers and vegetables!

Our garden is pretty big; I could have easily carved out a corner of it for them. But instead, we decided to give them a garden of their very own. My husband had some extra 4×6 boards left over from a recent project, and he was already planning to rent a trailer to haul a load of mulch and composted manure for our garden and flower beds. So, we figured while he was at it, we would also get a scoop of garden soil for a new raised bed for our kids.

My son was so excited at the idea! When I asked him was he was going to plant in his garden he first said “my truck”. Then I said “well, what type of plants do you want to put in your garden?” To that he replied “a big leaf tree!” Hmmm… for some reason we weren’t quite on the same page. At the risk of having my son expect that he’d be cultivating a tree that would bear miniature dump trucks, we decided to move forward with their garden.

This past weekend Shane was hard at work putting the boards in place. I scraped the top layer of sod off the garden plot, and then we filled it with the new garden soil. It was nice, dark, rich-looking soil! We mixed a little bit of composted manure in there as well. The children’s garden is just 4 feet by 8 feet, but I have a feeling that with the rich soil in there, their little garden plot may do better than ours!

4' by 8' children's garden at the end of the main garden

The day after we prepared the bed I took the kids out to plant their first seeds. For his early spring crops, Big D chose to sow snap peas, spinach, lettuce, rainbow carrots, and purple kohlrabi. When we first got out there with the kids’ garden tools (that I bought at Michael’s for $1), they both played in the garden like it was a sand box. (I’m sure that won’t be the last time.) I gave them both seeds and they sprinkled them,… then did some digging,… the sprinkled some more seeds,… then threw some dirt around,… and stomped all over the garden.

I’m not sure which plants will grow or where. But I’m sure something will come up. I tried to help them plant the peas a little more thoughtfully, since we had to sow those a couple of inches below the surface. Either way, I’m sure they will be thrilled when they start seeing little plants sprout up in their garden. We’ll also transplant some of the seedlings we started indoors later on when the weather is warm enough.

I can’t wait to see how their garden progresses! Hopefully they’ll grow to love their garden as much as I love mine!