More and more we see our children choosing to stay inside rather than venturing into the great outdoors. Fortunately, our lifestyles are becoming more and more mobile as well – from movements like the tiny house life to the minimalist lifestyle.
One of these amazing trends is container gardening. These compact gardens are the perfect small, portable responsibility for your little one. If you’re not sure how to start, learning alongside your child is the perfect bonding time.
Let your child take the lead in this project and your little one might surprise you with how much they can do!
Container Gardening – How Can This Help Your Child?
Sometimes a first step to introduce the outdoors to your child is to bring it inside. This is easy with container gardening. All you need is some potting soil, any container (why not upcycle), and seeds or clippings to grow from. There are many uses for container gardening like an indoor herb garden for your kitchen. You can use old tea tins, plastic bottles, or build a window box. The upcycled resources will not only be easy for your child to handle and work with, but will teach them the value of recycling.
Using Plastic Bottles
Upcycled plastic bottles can be cut to fit almost any space, hung, or used standing. You can also use them to make a self-watering system. Plastic bottles are good for decorative plants like succulents as well if you and your child are not ready to try out edible plants. The joy of using plastic comes from the easy “craft” style that will be easy for your child to pick up. The simplest way to start is with a none-sharp cactus succulent. This won’t require much water and is hardy.
1. Cut the bottle in half and fill the bottom with soil.
2. Dig a little hole just deep enough for the plant roots.
3. Firmly pat the soil down to give the plant (or seed) a firm foundation.
4. If you would like, add decorative rocks around the base of the plant.
5. Water just enough to dampen the soil and place in a sunny splot.
Bringing nature inside is all well and good, but there comes a time a bird needs to fly! Getting kids outside reconnects them with the world they live in and gardening shows them how to care for it. Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder talks about how our children today are nature-deficient.
Once you’ve brought some containers inside, it’s time to take the next step: move it outside.
Window boxes are a beautiful way to just reach out the window and touch nature. But you can also hang an entire garden on your garage door, on your porch or anywhere else to tempt your child outside. Using an old shoe organizer, you can plant up to 16 different herbs, flowers, or even cherry tomatoes!
The only thing to remember is that with the canvas being less insulated, you will lose more water and the wind might dry out the soil faster than if you had a solid container that didn’t leave so much exposed. An easy fix is to get the padding from organic baby diapers and put it inside the canvas container before you put the potting soil in. This will keep more water from leaking out and hold more in windy climates.
Growing A Garden, Growing Your Child
Teaching your child to take care of a plant is a safe, low-consequence way to teach your child responsibility. Spending time in nature is good for your child. You want the best, so here are some of the best soils to look into when getting started on your successful container gardens.
Never start with just gardening soil as the water and the wind will either be too much for the soil to handle inside a container or it will hold too much water and the roots will rot. A good option is to mix. If you’re not sure or just don’t have the time to do some hard-hitting research, try anything certified by The Mulch and Soil Council.
Before you plant anything, plan ahead! What plants do you want? Flowers? Just some ground cover? Veggies? Take your child’s participation into consideration as well. How often can you water? Take this opportunity to teach your child to check on the garden and how to handle chores.
For more tips and tricks to start your own container garden, read A Field Guide To Container Gardening.
Contributed by Sproutabl