Many lessons can be taught and learned when practicing certified organic seed gardening with children, including a deep appreciation for nature. One of the biggest problems for parents of young children is that they like to put everything into their mouths. Washing their hands and checking what they are eating is a constant chore for parents everywhere. This is part of the reason certified organic seed is the best choice when young children are present, as they don’t contain dangerous chemicals.
Set aside a small portion of the garden for children to plant their own certified organic seed and transplanted seedlings. Consider the following suggestions before choosing what to plant:
• Children are not familiar with the concept of time and will want to see quick results, even if they can’t eat them immediately; they need to see regular change. Plant part of the area with colorful Confetti radishes and Organic Greens Mesclun Mix, both of which can be planted early and will begin sprouting within 2-3 days.
• They also enjoy unique items, fruits and vegetables that are familiar but with something different. While traditional Swiss chard is a great addition to meals, kids will enjoy growing colorful Rainbow Chard Seeds, which can be eaten raw like celery, cooked like spinach, or used to add color to flower garden borders. Casper pumpkin seeds are a fun way to add ghostly color to the garden using heirloom seeds.
• Children love growing items which are very large or very small. Their sense of wonder when initially experiencing a common item at an extreme size is a joy for parents and grandparents. Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Seeds are the perfect suggestion, as they average 400-500 pounds, with an all-time record of 2009 pounds.
• Gourds are a great project item for children as they can be dried, made into birdhouses, and even painted. Squash can be grown for decoration and eaten throughout the year when stored in a cool dry area.
• Carefully consider the area where the children will plant their garden. They need to see success, so make sure it has good soil, adequate moisture and protection from extreme elements. Plant seeds and seedlings within the suggested package guidelines.
• Plan ahead for calamity. When working with young children, it is easy to replace a plant that is not doing well or has been uprooted with excess from your own garden.
• Explain to them what is being planted, how it grows and why you use certified organic seeds. This is the perfect time to bond and pass along important values.
Children’s minds are like sponges and they learn easily. Soaking seed in warm water, starting them in egg cartons and showing the progress every step of the way is a fun spring project.
Children will enjoy working in the garden when the project is broken into smaller chunks of time. Provide them with child-size or hand gardening tools, a few clean cans which have had sharp edges covered with tape, milk jugs and watering cans. Children gravitate to dirt, and of course also to what their parents are doing. With a little time and patience you can help nurture a lifelong appreciation of gardening and protecting nature through the use of sustainable certified organic seeds.
Using water conservation during times of drought or at any time is ideal for organic seed gardens. These hardy strains have lived for generations and are able to acclimate to a variety of conditions. Ensuring they receive enough moisture is essential to maximize production and flavor. This can be difficult in hot, dry areas of the country, however as resourceful gardeners have shown it is quite possible.
Preparation is key when planning a garden in areas where sufficient rainfall is limited. Soil in these areas may not be the highest quality, but may consist of hard, packed clay or dry sand. Even rich black dirt will clump and be difficult to work when moisture is limited. So what should be considered when planning gardens for water conservation? The following hints will help:
• Raised garden beds can be beneficial for conserving moisture while gardening. Soil preparation is imperative in areas where the native soil allows moisture to run straight through or is too dry and hard. Raised beds allow gardeners to use high quality organic fertilizers in small areas.
• Vertical gardening can be combined with raised beds or used in areas where there is little space, allowing a more concentrated area at the base of the plants for watering.
• Mulching around the base of the plants will help retain moisture in the roots where it is needed.
• Drip irrigation systems can be run throughout the garden as well as for trees and bushes. This directs water to the roots of the plants rather than top layers of the soil where it will dry out. It is especially effective when combined with mulch and compost.
• Fog farming along areas at the coast helps provide plants with moisture they would not otherwise receive and methods to catch the fog enhance the benefits.
• Similar to fog farming, dew can be captured in many areas that don’t receive adequate rain. Collectors can include using large sheets of plastic to catch and direct the moisture to a rain barrel or other collection device.
• Water collected using the above methods can be applied to individual plants using a watering can directed at the roots of the plant. Slowly pour the water around the base to prevent runoff and increase root absorption.
• Recognize the signs of moisture depletion and plan to water when it is most beneficial to the plants. Leaves will often curl slightly during hot parts of the day, although this is generally not a good time to turn on the sprinkler. Evaporation depletes moisture quickly if applied using a conventional sprinkler, and water at night may create more problems than it solves.
• Keep the garden weeded to prevent these invaders from absorbing the moisture meant for plants. Organic seed gardeners won’t want to apply chemicals as they will negate the benefits of organically grown produce. Instead plan to weed when the ground is moist, early mornings are often best.
By planting organic seed on flat areas of the garden rather than slopes, gardeners will increase the roots ability to absorb moisture. Aim for a spot which provides protection from the wind. Warm winds can rip leaves, but worse, they also rob plants of valuable moisture. Organic seed gardening using sustainable practices is an innovative method to provide food for families.