Sunday, February 22, 2009

Try and Try Again

Last year was our first attempt at a children's garden. It didn't quite turn out the way we had hoped. We built a flower bed next to the house. An overgrown, un-pruned tree shaded part of the flower bed early in the day. I was afraid to let the children water the plants near the back of the bed because I didn't want water damaging the house foundation. We didn't mix in any nutrients into the soil, so the plants had to try and grow in plain old top soil. Many of the plants ended up being smashed by excited children trying to touch them.

Raccoons ate our pumpkins just as they began to turn orange. Fortunately, I had taken photos of two of them when they were green and growing on the vine so we have some record of their existence.

The carrots looked like mangled, dwarfed, conjoined twins - they looked so bad I wouldn't even let the children taste them for fear that they were severely diseased. I even speculated that the gas line that runs up to the house may have caused the mangled carrots. To this day, my husband chuckles at my theory.

I spent the year browsing gardening and children's gardening websites online and reading two books that were given to me by the author, Cindy Krezel. Cindy is the sister of a friend of mine, Marcie Krezel. If you are planning a children's garden, take a look at Cindy Krezel's books - they are wonderful books.

Kid's Container Gardening has some adorable ideas for creating year-around container gardens with children.

The book I find myself referring to over and over is 101 Kid-Friendly Plants. The book is an easy read, it is bright and colorful and it has wonderful ideas for what plants will work well in themed gardens. This year, the ideas we plan to implement in our children's garden include the "Five Senses Container Garden" and the "Butterfly Garden".

This year we hope our attempts at a fun-filled children's garden is much more successful. We are getting an earlier start. We are taking out the overgrown tree and an adjacent Rhododendron that no longer looks very healthy from being shaded for too long. We are taking out the raised bed we built last year and installing long narrow raised bed in the center of the space. The idea is to have a walkway all the way around the raised bed with easy access to all of the plants. We will be working compost and manure into the soil. We started out seeds in indoor Jiffy Pots to give them a good start. Where the large tree is right now, we plan to grow a pole bean Tee Pee for the children to play in. And, of course, we are starting to come up with some ideas to add a bit of whimsy to the children's garden - maybe we can find an old sink, or an old bike to plant flowers in for a decorative accent.

The children and I are looking forward to a fun-filled season growing a children's garden. Their daddy is even taking an interest - he wants to build an arch and small fence to give the children a grand entrance to their own little secret garden.
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