PLAY IN THE DIRT WITH YOUR KIDS IN FIVE EASY STEPS
STORY: Sue Rodman
Kids are natural gardeners. They love to dig in the dirt, pick dandelions and try to catch butterflies as they flit from plant to plant. Gardening is also a great way for them to learn about the environment around them, increase their awareness of where food comes from and gain healthy eating habits. We asked Matt Arnett, a Pike Nurseries regional manager who oversees the Buckhead and Lindbergh locations, to offer some tips to help get youngsters started, as well as what to plant this summer.
It all comes down to five simple steps, so grab some gloves and a trowel and get digging.
Getting Kids Excited About Gardening
The best way to get the little ones interested and keep them involved in gardening is to have them grow something they can eat. Strawberries are a great option since they produce fruit rather quickly. Also, children love being involved in the process, so let them have a say about what you’ll grow. Most of all, have fun. If you’re enjoying the experience, they will too.
Sun or Shade
The first thing to consider when planting a garden is the location. If it’s in an area that’s sunny most of the afternoon, you’ll want to choose plants that love the light. Some good kid-friendly options include marigolds, geraniums or petunias that come in lots of colors and patterns. Don’t be afraid to mix in herbs such as basil and mint, too. If the area is mostly shaded or only receives morning sun, choose shade plants such as impatiens, begonias or caladium.
Managing the Garden
A garden doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal and take up a lot of space. Planting in pots is a great way to garden with kids, and the pot itself can be part of the fun. Buy a basic terracotta version and let them paint or decorate it prior to filling it with their favorite flowers or vegetables.
Types of Vegetable Gardens
A child who never touches a green bean at the dinner table might just be curious enough to eat it if he’s grown it in his own garden. But a safe bet for vegetable garden success is to choose things your kids like to eat. For example, if your child loves tomatoes, plant a traditional variety such as Better Boy or even the lesser-known Sungold that produces sweet, juicy and perfectly sized orange cherry tomatoes. If your son or daughter likes vining veggies such as cucumbers, beans or melons, try growing them on a trellis and let the whole family enjoy the tasty results.
Butterfly gardens are also an ideal option for kids since the plants have bright, colorful blooms. Alyssum, echinacea, verbena, lavender and butterfly bushes (buddleia) are good choices for a fluttering garden. Keep in mind that butterflies need water as well, so be sure to incorporate a birdbath and place a flat rock somewhere to give them a place to rest.
WHERE TO BUY
Visit the following for all your gardening essentials.
Pike Nurseries Buckhead
4020 Roswell Rd. N.E.
Pike Nurseries Lindbergh
2410 Camellia Ln. N.E.
COMMUNITY GARDENS IN BUCKHEAD
For inspiration, visit these area community gardens, but please, leave the picking to the plot owners.
Blue Heron Community Garden
4055 Roswell Rd. N.E.
Little Nancy Creek Park Community Garden
4012 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd.
Peachtree Hills Community Garden
308 Peachtree Hills Ave.