A children’s garden is full of sensory experiences, science, math and so much more. Get inspired to build a daycare garden for your kids in 4 easy steps.
When I came home from my first gardening class three years ago, pumped full of excitement, I couldn’t wait to tell the kids about starting up our new project. They were hopeful too as we dreamed of what we were going to start.
We drew up plans and made excited lists of things we wanted to grow to eat. They’ve learned so much since then when their answers included things like spaghetti and hamburgers.
4 Steps to Start a Children’s Garden in Your Daycare
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Step 1 Gardening lesson plans
Over the past three years we’ve used several curriculums including the Grow It, Try It, Like It and Power Panther lessons we got from the class.
The second year we bought the Junior Master Gardner Program. This year we got three sets of gardening and nutrition curriculum off the USDA website. We ordered it online and it came in the mail free of charge.
My oldest and I went through it and planned some activities to use from each of them and he’s going to help teach them. These kids are full of much more knowledge about growing and healthy eating than I ever thought possible.
Some of their families are gardening, shopping at the farmer’s market, and making healthier choices at the grocery store thanks to the garden program.
Children’s garden daycare
Step 2, Build beds for the children’s garden
Our raised beds are simple, just a few boards nailed or screwed together, lined with landscape fabric and filled with planting medium. In the expansion, we got a garden mixture from a company.
In the old garden, we made something similar to Mel’s mix from Square Foot Gardening. Vermiculite is very expensive and our budget prohibited us from filling all the beds using it, so we substituted pine bark mulch on the advice of farmer who helped us.
Step 3: Building soil for the children’s garden
Our first raised bed came with dirt the class provided and the rest of our containers in that space are 1/3 peat, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 pine bark mulch. We mixed it in a wheelbarrow and dumped it in. It drains great, it holds moisture well, and it grows food.
We used some mushroom compost and some cotton burr compost. I don’t have a preference. We bought ours at Lowe’s.
Step 4: Grow food in the children’s garden
We use the no-till method of gardening. We are still learning, but the idea of not tilling is, when the soil is disturbed it kills the beneficial microbes in the soil, so you want to disturb it as little as possible. When our plants are finished for the season, we cut them off at the ground and let the roots decompose over the winter and provide more nutrients in the soil.
At the end of the growing season, we top off each container with more compost and some mulch and leave it for the winter, then in spring, it’s ready for planting. The soil is fluffy, moist, dark and beautiful.
We love this method, and it’s much easier than tilling if you’re lazy! Nature doesn’t till. If you walk into a forest and scrape back the leaves on the ground, the soil underneath is incredible.
The decomposition of old leaves and whatever fell there plus the leaf cover and rainfall makes the most amazing planting medium you could find. No-till tries to mimic nature in that way. I like the idea of it, so far it’s working great for us.
If you want to check out some great reasons to garden with kids, click here.
One of my daycare parents, Danny, helped us learn to build our raised beds by building the first one. He also brought us to the nearby farmer who helped us with our plans. Then he taught us the soil mix and helped us mix it for the first bed.
He even drove us to the store to get the supplies for the first bed and hauled them back in his truck. We could have never built this dream without his help. The knowledge he shared with us has helped us build around 50 more beds we are using now!
If you don’t know where to start, just start somewhere, and your dreams can grow!
If you’ve been thinking about starting a garden, I really encourage you to jump in and do it. You won’t regret it. My advice is to start small and work your way to where you want to be. Taking on too much can be overwhelming.
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