May-Spring Has Sprung

Spring is here!  We’re all excited to be spending more time outside and to be resuming swimming lessons!  We will also be starting up our school gardens with the Minnesota Horticultural Society.     We hope you can join us for Family Night on the 18th!

kids-gardening-header

Gardening at home can be a really worth-while experience.  It’s a great way to get more veggies in your diet, build healthy habits, can be inexpensive, provides exercise, and can be lots of fun.  There are many benefits to gardening with your child, such as:

  •  It can get them thinking about (and talking to you!) about science concepts, like how plants take in water and use the sun to make their own food.  If you child has questions about plants you can’t answer, it provides a great opportunity for you both to figure out the answer together!
  • It gets the family outside and away from technology (it’s hard to dig in the dirt with a tablet in your hand!)
  • Children are likely to be much more interested and then more likely to eat vegetables that they have grown themselves
  • It can provide heathy and nutritious food for the family
  • It can encourage a lifetime love of gardening in your child
  • It’s a wonderful way to bond as a family
  • It can teach patience; plants take time
  • It can teach responsibility; gardens need watering and weeding
  • Digging in the dirt can boost your child’s immune system

 

If You Don’t Have Lot of Space

Don’t worry!  You can still grow things even if you don’t have a small yard or no yard at all.  One option is to look into community gardens where many different people in a community have individual plots in the same space (check out the list of links at the bottom of this post).  Another option is container gardens or vertical gardens, which can be very versatile, don’t take up much space and can still provide lots of room to grow things.

Container Gardens

A container garden is just what it sounds like; a garden in a container.  The type of container can vary, depending on how crazy you want to get with it.  It can be as simple as a pail or as fancy as an antique suitcase.  If you can put some dirt in it, you can probably grow something in it and Pinterest is full of beautiful ideas, but if you’re just starting out, keep it simple with a pot or bucket.  You can always get more creative down the road after you master the basics.

Container gardens are great because they take up little space, don’t need a lot of equipment, can be moved around and can placed just about anywhere, including a balcony, making them ideal for people in apartments.

There are a few things to keep in mind, like the fact that container gardens tend to dry out faster than plants in the ground and they might have different fertilizer needs, but with a little bit of planning, you can have a very successful harvest!

Here’s a great how-to for first time container gardeners

Here is a slightly more in-depth guide

 

Vertical Gardens 

If space is tight, think about going vertical!  There are a million different ways you can make a vertical garden depending on how fancy you can to get. You can easily purchase a vertical planter (here’s what shoe gardenAmazon has) or you can make your own if you’re crafty!

Here are some basics for vertical gardens

A shoe organizer can make a quick and easy garden

Pallets are a popular vertical garden choice and work great for balconies

Indoor herb Gardens

You can also do some growing indoors.  Herbs make great indoor plants and can be used year-round for cooking.   Herbs are fun for kids because so many of them have interesting smells!

Here are some tips for growing some tasty herbs indoors

Here are five great herbs for growing indoors

You can have an herb container garden and grow many herbs in one large pot

If you’re feeling fancy, you can make a hanging coffee can herb garden

Mason jars make good planters (fancy chalkboard signs optional)

A Tip from the Midway ECLE Gardens 

squirrel

Squirrels can be a real bummer when it comes to gardens.  They love to dig up all your hard work and eat the delicious seeds.  One easy, pesticide-free way to discourage them from wreaking havoc is to plant some marigolds in with your other plants.  Marigolds are a very common flower and squirrels don’t like the smell.

 

More Information and Community Resources

Ready to get growing?  Here are some additional resources to help you out:

St. Paul Gardening Resources -information about community gardens, rain gardens, gardening policies and free answers from a Master Gardener to any gardening questions you might have.

Free Gardening classes at St. Paul Public Libraries

Find a Garden- Use the map to find community gardens in your area