I really want to teach my kids where things come from. I wanted to show them how their clothes are made from natural resources like cotton. This year we are growing our own cotton. We harvested, combed, and spun a little of it so the kids can see their clothes are made from it.
Tag Archive for gardening with kids
The garden is a wonderful place for kids to learn, but how in the world do I plant a garden that kids work in and eat from? It can be a challenge to make a garden with kids, especially if they are very young. I work in my garden with kids ages one to five. Even a one year old can learn a ton in the garden and help grow food.
How do you know what plant varieties to choose when you’re staring at a big ole stack of seed packets or catalogs? There are several ways you can narrow this down so you can choose the ones you like best. One of my favorite ways is to read all of the descriptions in the catalogs. I love reading those descriptions because they are like love letters about each vegetable or fruit.
It’s the time of year when seed catalogs start pouring in. I read a book one time where they called them farmer porn. They are pretty juicy and appealing. You could spend a thousand dollars and get more seeds than you could ever plant easily. Be careful and put some planning into what you are going to get to make sure you have room to plant it and aren’t wasting your money. Chose what to plant wisely.
Do you ever get so excited about ordering seeds that you double order? I do. It’s so frustrating! I pour over catalog after catalog. I make lists. I map out my garden. (Click here to see how to plan your garden) Later, I get all misty eyed at some garden ad or a new catalog I’ve never seen before, and I accidentally order something I’ve already ordered.
There are so many plants you can plant in winter in Oklahoma. February is a busy month for spring plantings. Check out the OSU extension chart for what goes in the ground from Feb 10-March 10. There are quite a few things on that list. If you are not in Oklahoma, check your local county extension office to find out what you should be planting at that time.
Don’t you just LOVE zinnias? I do. They are a burst of long lasting color all through the summer and fall. They are one of the ONLY plants that doesn’t succumb to our horrid heat here in Oklahoma AND they are tolerant of our drought like conditions that are all too common here.
Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes are a tasty, starchy tuber similar in flavor and texture to potatoes. They taste sweeter than potatoes though. The great thing about them is you can harvest them in winter when there is not much else to harvest. The plants are pretty, the smell nice, and they produce like no one’s business. In fact, they can be very invasive. Have you ever heard of them? I hadn’t until I was researching what kind of perennial plants we could plant in our preschool garden.
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Plant Jerusalem Artichokes in spring.
Order some tubers and get a large container filled with soil. You don’t want to plant these babies in the ground or they will take over the whole area you plant them in. They are planted in spring. Plant them like you would plant potatoes, about 5 inches deep and about 12-18 inches apart. Click the small image above for buying choices if you want to get some tubers to start your own plants.
The tubers will grow all summer. They grow a tall flower similar to a cluster of small sunflowers. They smell nice and fragrant and look lovely in the garden. Harvest them after the first frost. A friend tells me if you harvest before a frost, the sunchokes will make you gassy. Nobody wants Jerusalem artichoke gas!
Another fun fact about Jerusalem artichokes is the flowers smell slightly like chocolate. Who doesn’t love a sunflower that smells like chocolate? You can take a few petals from the flower and rub it in your hands and smell a chocolatey smell. Sensory experiences are so important for kids, especially under age three. This is a wonderful sensory stimulus.
Sunchokes grow back.
Your Jerusalem artichokes will grow back year after year. Once you do the initial planting, you will have food for years to come. We have tried them raw. We are going to harvest most of ours after we get a frost and try them cooked. You are supposed to prepare them like you would potatoes. You can bake them, mash them, or however you enjoy your potatoes.
The kids really love the treasure hunt of digging for food under the ground. Carrots, radishes, potatoes, and Jerusalem Artichokes are super fun for kids. What kid doesn’t love digging in the dirt? I know I still do. The tubers are small and clustered together. They are easy to dig up all at once.
One tip i have learned is to wait until after a freeze to dig them. They taste sweeter and more flavorful and some gardeners have said if you dig them before the frost, they cause lots of gas when you eat them. So….
Don’t forget to pin for later.
Raised beds are fairly popular among gardeners these days. What’s all the hype? Why do you need them? There is nothing wrong with gardening right in the ground, but raised beds offer some different options to gardeners as growing spaces. Building raised beds can be expensive and it does take time to build them and fill them. They can also fix a whole host of gardening problems and for us at Little Sprouts, they work.
Gardening with kids is one of the most amazing and rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. I have been a family childcare provider for 21 years and over the course of that time, I have tried and tried to grow things with my kids. I come from a long line of farmers and have always been interested in growing food, but I just had no instincts.
Gardening has a million benefits. There is nothing better to teach your kids.
Five years ago, I was invited to a class to teach childcare providers to garden with their kids. I was so excited and immediately fell in love with everything about it. I set the goal to teach as many kids as possible to grow food, to teach as many people as possible to teach this to kids, and to grow as much of my kid’s food as possible here at our house.
I failed so many times over the years because I didn’t know the basics of how to garden, and Doug, the gardening teacher in the class, changed all that for me with the information he shared with us.
How we got started
First, I got help from a daycare parent to build some simple beds and mix dirt, then we got our free bed from the garden class, then we built more beds, and then we asked the neighbor for some land and built and expansion.
Overall, we have over 50 raised beds, some are as small as one foot by two feet and some are as large as 3 feet by 10 feet. It’s a hodge podge. We built many from discarded materials, got a small grant, collected money from local businesses, daycare parents, and family members, and put a ton of money into it ourselves, but we built a paradise to teach kids. Click here for more details about how we did it.
You certainly don’t have to go this big, kids can learn a ton in a couple of five gallon buckets full of dirt. You can plant a lot in a 3 by 3 foot bed and so much learning can happen with that. You can have one tomato plant and find dozens of learning opportunities with just that. Please don’t feel overwhelmed by the volume we’ve chosen here. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It can just be something!
The garden has ups and downs
There are so many things you can learn in the garden and if you don’t know how to garden yourself, you can do like we did and learn while you teach your kids. We are by no means experts, but we have a lot of fun figuring it out. My husband is a big help and I certainly could not do it without him.