5 Easy Steps to Get Your Kids Gardening

By Bryn Huntpalmer

Keep it Simple Sister
Via Keep It Simple, Sister

Visit Local Gardens for Inspiration

There are so many beautiful gardens to visit in the Boston area to get your kids excited about caring for their natural environment. The Public Garden  sits on 24 acres and features an array of plants (some very unusual), a lagoon, and sculptures and water fountains. You can spend the entire day at the garden for free–though the swan boat rides are extra–exploring various plant life, enjoying a picnic, and feeding the ducks.

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

If you need a break from the heat this summer, check out one of Boston’s many indoor gardens. The Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses at Wellesley feature a diverse collection of plants (many food and spices) within sixteen interconnected greenhouses. A desert house contains cacti and succulents, allowing you to sneak in a little science lesson about how plants adapt to their environments. During the summer, the gardens are only open from 8am-4pm on weekdays, but this can be a great activity to do with kids who are home on summer break. While you’re there, don’t miss the Edible Ecosystem Teaching Garden to learn how to produce your own food bearing garden using sustainable practices.

Plan Out Your Garden Space

Most plants need a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight, so you’ll want to position your garden in an area that gets plenty of natural light. If you don’t have yard space, consider starting with a container garden. I love how these plastic bottles (from laundry detergent and soda bottles) have been re-purposed as planters that will certainly add a fun element to your garden that attracts your child’s attention. Creating these planters is also a fun craft project that you can do as a family–great project for a rainy summer day.

Via EHow
Via EHow

If you do have some yard space, consider building raised garden beds. Raised garden beds are great if you have poor quality soil — rocky, clay, or sandy — because you’ll control what kind of soil goes into it. These beds are relatively simple to build yourself, and you can add features to help increase drainage and to deter pests. Here is a tutorial to get you started.

Planter
Via All Those Details

Select Your Plants

Do you want to grow flowers, herbs, vegetables, or some combination? Better Homes and Gardens has a helpful list of the top 15 native plants of the northeast. In terms of vegetables, be realistic about what your family will actually eat in order to prevent food waste. For instance if you are growing tomatoes, know that each plant can produce 10-15 pounds worth of fruit throughout the season. Carrots, radishes, and corn only produce once a season though so you may want to plan space for a few more of those plants.

Add an Element of Whimsy
If you want your kids to take an active interest in the garden, you can assign them various responsibilities such as watering and weeding, but also think about adding fun elements to the garden that will make them feel like it is a space for them, too. I like these DIY garden mushrooms because they provide a nice space for your children to play or enjoy a picnic-style lunch.

Via Birds & Blooms
Via Birds & Blooms

You can add fun outdoor games near the garden to encourage your kids to spend time outdoors, getting some fresh air and much needed vitamin D!

Via The Gardening Cook

Via The Gardening Cook

Compost

Composting is a great way to create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. It also spares you the expense of pricey fertilizers and prevents your harvest from being exposed to unknown chemicals. It’s also a great way to get your kids to help clear plates after meals. Teach them about what food scraps can go into the compost and if your kids are into the creepy crawly, maybe even start a worm compost.

Via Gardening Know How
Via Gardening Know How

For more tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com.

 

 

 

 

Container Gardening and Growing Potatoes

Our friends across the pond at UK-based GrowVeg show you how to grow potatoes in bags or pots – great for those short on garden space around your house or allotment.  This video also is U.S. friendly, as instructions are given in inches and gallons as well as centimeters and liters.  Here’s how to get yer spuds started:

GrowVeg video shot

Breathe In Breathe Out – a message from a Gro-O friend

Lavendar and broccoli flowers

Gro-O founder, Karen Cancilla, connected with Christie Cooper through social media because both have had experience dealing with health issues that were resolved or treated through natural healing methods and using food as medicine.  Christie wanted to share her insights with us…

First off, let me start by introducing myself.  My name is Christie Cooper and I am a mother of 3 born and raised in small town Oklahoma.  I’m here because on my journey to healing I discovered a deep longing to share my story and possibly help others in need of support.  My hope is that after you read this you feel a little less alone and a lot more hopeful.

Through every hardship comes a life lesson.  After spending most of my adult life with a chronic illness, I have discovered at the age of 35 something very important to my healing. My lesson through the suffering is to love myself and others unconditionally.

I was infected with Lyme Disease at the age of 19.  Neurological Lyme is a shameful, atrocious disease that robs you of any and all quality of life.  When you are deep in your disease process it’s like being in the throes of an Oklahoma tornado.  It’s frightening, lonely and at times too much to bear.  During the darkest moments it feels impossible to hold on. You are not alone.  If we just hold on a little longer the storm will pass and we will be left cleansed and can start anew.

Buddha said, “ Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”  We cannot attain or sustain a healthy body without first being content with all that is in us and around us.

Along the way I have learned there are three keys to having a healthy life.  Faith, food and forgiveness.

Have faith in yourself first and foremost, love yourself.

Feed your body fresh, nutritious food that makes you feel good.

Lastly, forgiveness is key. Let go of any anger or resentment for others or yourself.  Inhale your truth, your beauty, your contentment.

Exhale your fear, resentment and emptiness.  You my friend are AMAZING!

With pure heart,

Christie Lynn Cooper

Christie’s Instagram link is:   https://instagram.com/lynn_christie/

Why gardening makes you HAPPIER — get out into nature and get your hands in the soil

Been thinking about happiness and depression since Robin Williams passed away a week ago.  Depression is such a complex condition — so insidious, so difficult to cure. And so many questions come to mind:

  • what factors contribute to depression? According to the Mayo Clinic: genetics, a body’s hormonal imbalance, brain chemistry and biology, medications, and life events all play a part.
  • how to differentiate between the blues, feeling down and severe clinical depression? (Haven’t you seen those TV commercials for antidepressants–for example, remember the one with that sad looking cloud blob?) The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) details different forms of depression ranging from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to Major depression.

Some try to self-medicate with food, alcohol or drugs. I even blogged about the prescribing of anti-depressants in America back in 2011 –  click here.

So what do you do to find happiness? Turn to the arts–music, dance, literature, film, television, etc.– (see our reference list below for happy ideas) or sports or other activities? happy face

There’s a healthy activity that may not occur to some people…gardening.

♦ The Daily Mail (UK) tells us that gardening can ward off depression, improve your mood and make you feel life is more worthwhile. The article cites scientific research indicating ‘engagement with green places is good for personal health’ and that ‘short-term mental health improvements are protective of long-term health benefits.’

♦ A recent article from Greatist discussed ways of improving your life, how to be happy and an important method is to:

Spend time outside – this also provides opportunity to get some sun & vitamin D. Low levels of this vitamin has been associated with depression. Gardening helps you to get in touch with nature and unplug yourself from
technology.

♦ The Therapeutic Landscapes Network blog posted about the research done in the UK on a harmless bacteria found in soil — Mycobacterium vaccae — and its effect on seratonin which elevates mood and decreases anxiety.  Read more about this research in the Cosmos Magazine article: How gardening could cure depression

Of course, this isn’t an absolute guarantee that gardening will cure depression. (And experienced gardeners know all too well the disappointments that often occur when pests, plant disease, inclement weather or having a black thumb get the better of our crops.)

Marla harvest1However, the popularity of gardening shows that so many Americans enjoy the experience and the sense of achievement. Find your bliss, cultivate happiness.

 Let us be grateful to people who make us happy,
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
~Marcel Proust

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Billboard.com — Top 20 ‘Happy’ Songs of All Time

HuffingtonPost.com — 17 Movie Music Scenes That’ll Make You Dance, Sing And Upload It To YouTube Right Now

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Related Gro-O blog posts:

Even busy moms are growing organic vegetables (and you can do it, too)

Working moms have so many daily issues and crises to deal with, not the least of which is feeding their children the healthiest and freshest vegetables.

Collages3A great way to have pesticide-free, organic vegetables is to grow your own organic vegetable garden in your own backyard*. We have installed many raised planter gardens for moms who want to teach their children the rewards, fun and sense of pride from growing their own fruits and vegetables.

One such working mom is Tori Spelling. With 4 children and a new television show (Mystery Girls, a new detective comedy with Tori’s Beverly Hills 90210 co-star Jennie Garth) airing on ABC Family, a veggie garden was on her definite must-have list.

Check out Tori’s blog ediTORIal and her post about Gro-O here

Stella planting seedsIf you have a busy workload and a hectic schedule, you don’t have to feel intimidated or overwhelmed.  We can help you get growing with your own organic garden. Gro-O harvest pic*if you don’t have room for a bigger raised planter garden (for example 4′ x 8′), we can also set you up with container gardens that suit your space (patio, small strip of land, etc.)