Green beans. Orange carrots. Red tomatoes. How normal. How boring. One of the joys of growing your own veggies is that you can have some fun and mix up the colors. Beans come in yellow and purple as well as green. Carrots can be white, yellow, orange, or purple. Tomatoes come in green (such as Green Zebra), purple, orange, yellow, or even sporting saucy stripes. Even fresh corn on the cob (as opposed to the dried stuff) now comes in fun colors. Why settle for growing what you can easily find at the market, when so many other options are waiting?
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. Last night our daughter sent us the following text about two of our granddaughters, currently aged 4 and 6:
G: Look W–! A chickadee! (Gasp!) Two!
W: Yeah! Aww, they flew in the tree. (Runs to another window.)
W: I found them!
G: A chickadee! Two chickadees!
and so on…
(If you missed it, Part 1 was a few weeks ago.)
When choosing plants for children to grow, remember that kids like to have fun.
How about flowers that do something? Every child loves to pinch the sides of snapdragon blossoms to make them snap! And Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana, left) earns its name because the individual flowers stay how you bend them.
Pole beans can be planted around a bamboo teepee. So can vining flowers such as scarlet runner beans or morning glories. Plant corn in a square with a hidden room in the middle. (Be sure to leave a door opening.) It’s all right if the corn isn’t fully pollinated. The goal isn’t dinner, but rather having fun—and how fun is it to grow your own house?! Continue reading “Gardening with Children: What to Grow (Part 2)”
When you plant a seed with a child, you never know what will grow. I have a vivid memory of sowing sweet pea seeds with my mother; I must have been all of three or four years old. We dug a trench against our back fence. Then my chubby fingers placed each seed exactly in its place. I can still close my eyes and see the lavender, pink, and white seeds, coated to indicate what color the flowers would be. Then we covered them up and I patted the dirt smooth. In a few months we had armfuls of fragrant blossoms filling vases all over the house. Growing those sweet peas turned me into a life-long gardener, and to this day they are my favorite flower. Continue reading “Gardening with Children: What to Grow”
I’m not growing much of a garden this year. No seedlings are spouting under my plant lights. No plastic is warming the soil for my spring planting. I haven’t emptied the compost bin into the beds, and my greenhouse is still cluttered with dried cucumber vines and withered, brown tomato plants. Oh, I’ll probably sow a few summer squash seeds—I can’t quite bring myself to pay for zucchini in August—and maybe I’ll have time to put in some fall crops, but for the most part, this won’t be a veggie year.
No, I’m growing something much more important—grandchildren! In fact, I’m currently north of Seattle, helping my daughter and son-in-law after the arrival of their second daughter. Her older sister, at almost two, is keeping me on my toes—or on my knees—while my daughter recovers from childbirth. I miss my husband, who’s home feeding our cat and chickens, but I have to admit, I totally adore being a grandma! Continue reading “Gardening with Children: Building the Garden”
Need some know-how on how to prune your lilacs? Want to cultivate the best-tasting carrots? Looking for a way to garden from your yard-less apartment? No matter what your gardening question might be, the National Gardening Association (NGA) has answers.
I first learned about this amazing nonprofit organization back in the early ’80s. My savvy husband subscribed me to their garden magazine, Gardens for All. It came on folded up, printed on thin, oversized paper… clearly a low-budget operation. But the information was first-rate.
Monday I posted some suggestions for books that might pique a child’s interest in birding. Today, I focus on books for budding gardeners. As I mentioned, I have a granddaughter. While she’s only seven months old, I plan to waste no time introducing her to the wonderful world of flowers, bugs, and dirt!
I confess… I’ve been buying books for this child before she was ever conceived. I’d see something, rationalize that it might be out of print by the time I have grandchildren, and stash it away for future use.
Any birder with a child in their life is eager to pass along their love of birds and nature in general. Pete and I have been blessed with a granddaughter, and even though she’s only seven months old, I’m already on the lookout for ways to share my interests.
At this tender age, she isn’t quite ready for her own binos—she’d probably try to eat them. Plus, she lives halfway across the country, so I can’t take her outside with me nearly as much as I’d like. Still, you can bet that most of the gifts from grandma this Christmas will have something to do with nature.
My granddaughter, Willow, is only a month old, so it’s a bit too soon to be buying her binos and a field guide. Still, I’m looking forward to our first adventures outside, watching her joy as she discovers grass and flowers and ladybugs and, yes, birds. I hope she’ll be as fascinated with God’s creation as I am.
Since I hope to create a budding birder, I want to make sure I go about this in the right way. You can’t force a kid to love nature. So I’m already reading articles and talking to birding parents and grandparents about what works and what I should avoid.
Here in Colorado, January is a time of muted shades—tan grasses, soft yellow willows, maroon sedges, gray seedheads—and erratic weather. Highs in the 50s are immediately followed by snow or a sub-zero wind-chill. I was craving green leaves, bright colors, tropical humidity against my chapped skin. In the midst of suspended existence, I needed a fix of fecundity. So last Saturday, my husband and I paid a visit to the tropics. We drove to Broomfield, just west of Denver, home of the Butterfly Pavilion.