Easy Sustainable Gardening (Bonus! How to Apply it to Enhance Childhood Learning)
Easy Sustainable Gardening
(Bonus! How it Can Enhance Childhood Learning)
While many Americans have found themselves working from home and faced with an extended summer vacation for their children in the midst of this pandemic, there have been raised concerns on fresh food shortages as well as the toll this may take on the future of our nation's young minds. Scrambling for activities to not only keep us engaged but also to promote the development, encouragement and enhancement of the little one's minds and skills while they are unable to participate in their traditional education schedules. Gardening is an easy and affordable way to not only acquire sustainable food options but also offer children the chance the learn, enjoy the outdoors, and bond with you in the process. Not to mention, it leaves your yard a beautiful spectacle in just a short period of time!
Bountiful Kitchen Scraps
There is a multitude of options for what to start growing when it comes to leftover kitchen scraps or inexpensive pantry items that make great starters to a mini-science project turned mid-summer dinner choice. Generally, organic produce is the best to use given the lack of pesticides than can hinder the regrowth from happening. Most of the fresh foods that you have "cores" left after cutting, such as celery and lettuce or romaine, can be stabbed with a few toothpicks on the non-cut end and put in a glass of water to start sprouting new growth, then can be transferred to the garden or a pot shortly after. A similar method can be used for avocado seeds and sweet potatoes or green onions to keep them half submerged until they root and sprout.
Dried beans, lentils, and peas can be placed on wet paper towels in a plastic bag or container until they begin to sprout and then transferred to a small pot or directly into your garden. This method can be applied similarly in the instance of fruit like cherries, peaches, and apples but you will need to keep them in the refrigerator or other cold place for a couple months to get them to "wake up". Whereas these fruit seeds are partial to a cold and moist environment for their early start, tomatoes for instance ARE NOT. Tomato seeds can be purged, left on a paper towel to dry out a couple days then can be planted directly in a moist soil area in your indoor/outdoor pots or garden beds.
Culminating Crops and Kids
With a slew of options to choose from either being left over from last night's dinner or robbed from the pantry stash, you have a great start to the perfect lesson plan for the kids on a fair weather day. Here is a list of potentially teachable points for you to make while enjoying the weather and quality family time.
- Folding towels into shapes for seeds to sprout on
- Measuring amount of soil per container
- Counting seeds per soil content
- Patience while they grow
- Responsibility to water and nurture their plants
- Planning and organizing the best times to transfer seeds to garden beds or pots
- Labeling where and what each seed would be
- How proper nourishment of plants can apply to healthy eating habits
- Build confidence in allowing them to see what they have done
- Encourage health activity and exercise
- Highlighting the importance of taking care or the environment around us and the plants
- Safety with tools and sharp objects like toothpicks and shovels
- and many more..
Once your plants have all started to grow there are vastly more teachable items such as colors, how many leaves, where to place for best sun light per plant, what certain parts of the plants are called and even how they form. If you and the kids are feeling extra adventurous, check out this article on composting your fertilizer from the EPA! Composting is a super easy and inexpensive way to help your newly formed harvest thrive.
No matter the choices you make in what to grow (or if you leave that to the little ones to choose) you will surely have loads of fun with an added wealth of knowledge. Children's interactions not only with the outdoors but with the applied principles that gardening can illustrate will leave you feeling great and cement future problem solving abilities with the satisfaction of achievement in your little ones.
Make sure to check the criteria for sunlight, water consumption, and correct pot size for the seeds of your choosing in order to secure the best yield on each plant. If you have older children you can add this to the list of items to teach them and journal their tracking.
Let us know what plants you and your little ones choose! How did they turn out? What teachable moments have you had?
Best of luck in your sustainable gardening projects!