Farms,  Homeschooling,  Vegetables

Planning the Garden with Kids

It’s been snowing here this week (I know! In March!?), so it hardly seems like time to plan the garden. But the truth is, IT IS time to plan!

So far, I have cauliflower, cabbage, celery and celery root plants in pots, and I’ve got more on my list to start this week (like kale and eggplant). We’ve had a “tractor guy” come till our field (the first tilling out of the three we plan to do this year), so we are getting ready! Our garden is huge–100 feet by 50 feet. And yet, not huge enough!! 🙂 It certainly won’t feed all 9 of us for a year–but we held ourselves back from trying to do *too big* of a garden & getting overwhelmed. (Gardening is hard with little ones. Ever tried to garden with a 1 year old? Yup, enough said!).

Our kids want their very own garden, so I’m giving each boy a 2′ x 9′ row, and the 4 littlest ones get a 2′ x 9′ row to share. The other night, Farm Boy 1 and Farm Boy 2 wanted to design their gardens. I cut out 2′ x 9′ rows out of butcher paper, and got out a stack of 12×12″ card stock. (Confession: I used to be a scrapbooker. I can’t blog and scrapbook and still do everything else I need to do. Scrapbooking went out the window! :)). The boys got to learn the concept of Square Foot Gardening!

Earlier in the day, I made a list with all of the kids of what they want to grow in their gardens. They’re big dreamers, and I knew that I couldn’t be the one to say “well you can’t fit that much in your garden!” because they’d feel stifled. I let them dream big. Letting them figure out how much would fit in their garden worked so much better. “You mean you can’t fit 6 melon plants, a few tomatoes, cucumbers, and some flowers all in a 2′ x 9′ plot?” Nope!  🙂

I pulled out my gardening books and seed packets. My favorite gardening books are:

And this year I purchased a book called Week by Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook and it is my new favorite guide because it explains the timing of when to plant everything. This is important information! If you plant your celery too late (like I did this year! Oops! I should have read the book sooner!), you just might not get celery that year. If you plant your tomatoes too soon (which I realize I’ve always done!), the transplants don’t survive and you end up having to buy starts (my experience thus far!!).
I used the above books to determine the exact size of a plant. So when Farm Boy 2 wanted to plant peas, I could tell him (according to Square Foot Gardening), that on a trellis, 16 pea plants would take up 1′ x 2′. And then, if he’s going to have a trellis, why not put his melon & cucumbers right next to the peas so that they grow up and take up less space?  I think they learned a lot!

They thought they were doing a fun craft project, but they didn’t know that they were doing math! These two boys will be testing this year (a state requirement for homeschooling in Oregon) and their understanding of measuring in inches will be tested. This was good, real life, practical practice!!

In the end, they were able to decide what they really want to grow in their garden, based on space. They decided that one melon plant was enough, and they really didn’t want to grow squash anymore (Farm Boy 2 is growing 1 bush acorn squash plant, but no spaghetti squash, since it would take up almost his whole garden!). Farm Boy 1 is still dreaming big (but within his designated space now, thanks to this little lesson!). He wants to have a flower patch that is shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head. And he wants to grow radishes only because they were in a Winnie the Pooh story (maybe he ought to try rutabagas, too!). He cracks me up! 🙂 Not long ago, he decided to start saving the seeds from all of the fruits he ate (he had little baggies of different kinds of seeds). He made up his own soil mixture (that included ashes), and attempted to start his orchard. And guess what? He’s got apple trees growing! Amazing!!! Farm-living is the best kind of life for kids!!

How are you getting your kids excited about gardening?

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  • Katy

    We planted 11 fruit trees and two thornless blackberry bushes this week. I really got the boys excited by talking about all the things we were going to do with the fruit…way down the road. Then I kept pointing them to the garden area to talk about how we get to eat the food we put in there this year. They are so stoked. We bought our seed a week ago and my husband fixed the disc so he could disc it one more time (it broke after time 2, it’s old) before we plant. It’s all hooked up to the tractor (which the boys loved watching) and they will get to watch Daddy do it in a week.

  • itsmewhoelse

    I realize this is a year old, but I just found it. You have given me great ideas to get my granddaughter excited about gardening! She is a year old now, I have seeds started and have her touch them and see how much they grow each time she’s here. Wish schools made math as interesting as you do for your kids, more kids might learn that way. But you’ve helped me see how I can teach her and have fun too thanks

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