Wednesday, March 17, 2010

GROW TOGETHER ~ with your SPROUTS.

First Lessons in the Garden~

There's something so exciting about the expression of wonder on a childs face when they see " life " for the first time reaching out of the earth.

When our children were small and still full of wonder, I wanted to teach them all about the
joys of  connecting with nature.


  I couldn't wait to share my passion for gardening with them! I had been bitten by the gardening bug years before they were born after moving into our first home as a young married couple. Our " yard " consisted of a very large, bare patch of ground that sloped upwards. It was there that we learned "our first lessons in the garden" in the high desert of Nevada. It was both challenging and exciting to start with a totally blank canvas. We attended some classes and drew out a fancy plan for our slope! ( we didn't stick to it of course) Over time, we mastered digging in clay and granite soil, figuring out what plants were drought tolerant and those that required a little more water and attention. We also allowed a few "native volunteers" to stay and add their charms to our hillside garden. We were right with the trend of zeriscape gardening which was an exciting time to be learning about gardening in our area.
By the time our children came along ( 4 years later ) we had accomplished quite a lot in our garden and survived the disappointment of some hard lessons too. We had learned how not to burn and kill new plants with fertalizer, how to install a drip system and the value of hiring quality stone workers  next time we had a retaining wall built! (a story for another day ) .We were finally getting to the maintinence phase of things when our first child was born.

I had a raised bed on the east side of the house which was my cutting garden. It was filled with more delicate plants that were shaded and protected from the afternoon western sun.


I remember bringing our son outdoors in his bouncy chair and placing him in the shade on the gravel walkway many times while I snuck in a few cherished minutes of gardening!

You can imagine my excitment when the time came for planting with our children!

 One very simple, fun and rewarding way to do this is to plant some indoor seeds and watch em grow!  Off we went to our local outdoor center and picked out some trays, potting soil and seeds. 



Black-eyed Susan



Hollyhocks are an old fashioned favorite of mine and they come back every year!


The happy gardners with their "crops" on transplanting day!


We planted our seeds indoors in Mid- March so they would be ready to go outside in May after any danger of frost had passed.
I borrowed this little spread sheet idea for displaying seeds from a fellow teacher friend. I made a list of all the seeds we planted and then the sprouts glued them down next to the correct name.


Sorry about the yucky gray splotch! It's dried glue and even photo shop wouldn't erase it! Pretend it's a rain cloud about to sprinkle down on our newly planted seeds!



 Sunflowers are fun to grow whether you're young or young at heart!  Grow them kid height or grow them tall...

 We went to the library to find  books on the science of plants. We found some wonderful picture books on the subject.

  At the ages of 3 and 5 they easily understood the process of...

 photo-syn-the-sis.


 warm sun + nourishing soil + plus water
= pretty flowers


and HEALTHYveggies!



  We transplanted the seedlings into Grandmas garden near her sunporch windows. The Hollyhocks and Blackeyed Susans come back every year to remind us of our " first lessons in the garden "  nine years ago. Grandma never fails to call each summer to tell us how lovely her flowers are!

Planting your own seeds is a FUN and frugal way to add to your garden every year and it's a great way to grow together with your children.

We still plant new things together every year. Last spring we planted our first veggie garden. Our goal was to plant a thriving salad garden. We were careful to be as organic as possible. We used our own home made " cock- a -doodle- doo " courtesy of our girls  for fertility. The garden did fairly well, despite a lot of rain. We had loads of golden cherry tomatoes, summer and zuccini squash, peas, lettece, and cabbage.  




                                        We will do it again this spring! 

                                            How about you?

Nature Study "We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things."
Charlotte Mason~  


 This is my all time favorite book for activities to do in the garden with children.


The illustrations alone are so charming that even if you never did one of the activities, the book is worth having just for pure reading sake.

You might like to try.... the Sunflower House, The Pizza Patch or The Moon Garden with your young children.




 What do you grow together?  
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