When I was a kid, yard work always seemed onerous because all we did was remove stuff -- weeds, leaves, cut grass, etc. But oh the joy of adding. In alignment with Earth Day, today's Be Out There idea is to get up close and personal with the earth via gardening. The great thing about gardening projects is that they can be as simple or complex as you want them to be depending on your space, motivation, and need for immediate gratification. There are two scenarios for where to garden -- directly in the ground or in containers -- and two scenarios for what to plant -- seeds or already sprouted plants/flowers. We've tried all permutations and they all are rewarding. Here are some tips to get you and your kids going -- green thumbs totally not required.
Where to plant
Take a look at your space and note your sunniest spots. I've done everything from window boxes to a garden plot to terra cotta pots on the patio. Work with what you've got!
What to plant
Once you've decided on the where, decide on what your space can accommodate in the way of herbs, vegetables, and/or flowers. It's good to narrow the decision down before you go to the garden store; otherwise the options can get a little overwhelming. Also, engage your child's help in deciding what to plant. I narrow down, say, 5 options, then ask Laurel to pick her favorite 2 or 3. Giving her choice invests her in the process and it has even led to her consume vegetables she normally wouldn't touch.
If planting flowers, also think about the distinction between annuals or perennials. Annuals only last a year whereas perennials last across seasons. Given my desire for low maintenance gardening, I tend to opt for perennials.
Head to the store
Your local hardware store should offer seeds, soil, and tools, but if you want to plant already started herbs, veggies, and flowers, visit Home Depot or head to a pretty garden center such as Mahoney's Garden Center or Pemberton Farms.
When you get home, lay all your materials out and get planting. Let your kids do as much as possible; encourage them to scoop and dump the dirt, plant the seeds (or place the plants or flowers in the soil), and water. Don't sweat it if they spill dirt, seeds, or water. Just enjoy the time outside together.
All done? Sit back and enjoy watching your garden grow!
Image credit: Perennial ground cover from Mahoney's Garden Center
A couple other links I wanted to share: if you want to "grow your own dirt" I highly recommend composting. This is the composter we use, which is nice in an urban environment since it has a very compact footprint. And if you want fresh grown veggies but don't have the space to grow your own, check out this guide for Boston area CSAs. Some of the CSAs are filled up but others have shares available. April is a happy returning shareholder at Siena Farms and we are trying Parker Farms for the first time this year.