Spring is here and container gardening is a simple and delightful way to introduce children to the joys of gardening. It can be accomplished in any home, apartment, even at a campground with the summer traveler.
A container garden is any planting in a flower pot. The flower pot may be a terra cotta or decorative planter or any shape or size.
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How to Start Container Gardens For Kids
Begin at the public library. The first step will be inspiration and the second step research. Have the student look for books with pictures that show plants and how to start container gardens.
Continue by looking through this season’s seed catalogs or the gardening center at a local nursery or home store. There are flowers, food producing plants, shrubs, and trees that can grow in containers.
Consider fast growing plants over trees and shrubs for the younger child, as he will not have the patience to wait for shrubs and trees.
After research, the first step is to select plants or seeds. Flowers can make a showy presentation and so encourage the child. Be on the lookout for some that continue blooming throughout the summer.
Zinnias are a good choice, as well as moss rose, petunias, impatiens, snapdragon, and cyclamen. You may want plants, like coral bells, that attract hummingbirds.
Choose plants that respond well to sunlight and need plenty of watering. Watering is a main chore of container gardening, and one that the child can take an active part in.
To begin your container garden, you will need:
- Gardening book plants or seeds
- Pot, or other container
- Dirt or potting soil
- Small stones, gravel, or shards of an old terra cotta pot
- A watering can
- A sunny window or porch spot
Purchase a packet of flower seeds or choose plants, flowers or vegetables that have been started in pots and are ready to be transplanted into your own containers. You might consider strawberry plants, marigolds or pansies. Choose plants that are still small and have buds and few flowers.
A container can also contain both plants and seeds so as to have something to enjoy while the seeds sprout. Plant similar types of plants in colors that accent one another—like red and yellow.
Bulbs, like tulips, caladiums, gladiolas and daffodils, also are fun to grow in containers. Peppers and miniature salad tomatoes are fun vegetables. Some peppers feature pods in bright colors that rival flowers.
Ideas for Unusual Containers
Procure a planter or pots. You might like to use an old boot or pair of dilapidated tennis shoes or an old punctured watering can or some such unusual container for your garden.
Try an old pickle crock or kitchen pan or bucket. A row of old coffee mugs or tea cups make cute planters for small flowers.
Any receptacle that can hold soil and still drain well will work. Old metal garden or kitchen containers or wooden box containers make charming porch flower planters.
An old child’s wagon can be used as a planter too. Take a look around Grandma’s barn or even a thrift store or garage sale for suitable containers.
Prepare Your Container and Plant Your Garden
- Punch a few holes in the bottom or sides of the container so water can drain.
- Cover the inside with shards of pottery, gravel, stones, or other rubble that will allow drainage.
- Next, fill the container about two-thirds full with potting soil, or garden soil if you have access to a flowerbed or some spot where you can dig.
- Stir up, soften and mix up the soil. This is called cultivating and aerating the soil. If it is compacted, it will be hard for roots to grow.
- Move dirt from the center and place the small plants into the hole you have formed.
- Don’t clear the soil from the plant roots. Leave that in place and cover with soil.
- Carefully fill in around the plants roots and the base of the plant.
- Press firmly around the plant with your fingers.
- Water the plants and set in a sunny spot.
For seeds, fill the pot with potting soil and then plant seeds as deep as the package recommends. Water well and set in a warm sunny place.
A Gardener’s Journal
While you wait, you can make a small record book to show what day your container garden was planted and what was planted in it.
Record when you water the plants; record sunny days and warm days. This is a gardener’s journal. Be sure to write when the first plants sprout and when you notice growth or pick flowers or fruit.
Have fun with your container garden and be sure to use the opportunity to learn about gardens and soil.
Container Garden Ideas For Kids
#1. Grow a Garden in an Eggshell
#2. Upcycled soda bottle planter
#3. Growing Garlic Greens in a Can
#4. Milk Jug Planter
#5. Turtle Herb Planters
#6. Quirky eco planters
#7. Pint-Size Gardens for Pint-Size Gardeners
#8. Toy Truck
#9. Garden Boots
#10. DIY Milk Jug Planter