Did you know that gardens can grow so much more than pretty flowers and tasty vegetables? Gardening is shown to reduce stress, elevate your mood, and provide gentle exercise in the fresh air and sunshine. Kids who help in the family garden are more likely to eat their veggies, and more likely to try a variety of produce. Digging in the dirt may help boost natural immunity, and above all it is loads of fun! But there is no need to spend a fortune on supplies: here are 3 ways to get a great start on your garden, just using things from around your house.
1. Recycled paper seed cups
Remember making origami when you were a kid? Using a basic origami technique with newspaper will create a seed pot that is totally biodegradable, and you can customize the size:
- Start spring and early summer crops in smaller pots to be placed in-ground when they are still small.
- Start mid-late summer crops in larger pots, to allow them more growing room before they are placed outdoors.
When your plants are ready, just place them in the garden soil, or pot and all-the paper will break down and compost into the dirt.
How to (Video Tutorial):
2. Clamshell boxes
Those clear plastic containers from takeout dinners, rotisserie chickens, salad greens, bakery cookies, and the like make perfect mini-greenhouses for your origami pots. Just poke a few holes in the top of the containers with a hammer and large nail (some containers like those for berries and salad greens will already have holes), place the pots inside, water them thoroughly, close the lid, and place in a sunny window. You may need to mist lightly every few days with water if they look dry, but ideally the water should condense and recirculate like rain. This is also a fun, highly visual way for children to learn about the water cycle.
3. Think outside the box
Container gardening and raised beds are very popular options for families who are limited on yard space, or who have poor native soil. The hardware and garden supply stores carry all different types of pots, boxes, and raised beds ranging from a few dollars to several hundred. But if you scope out your own home and garage, you'll find many possibilities just waiting to be repurposed in the garden. Some examples:
- Old furniture: dresser drawers, a small bookcase laid flat, filing cabinets, wood bed frames, discarded kitchen or bathroom cabinets-all make perfect planter boxes. If you have an older drop-side crib that you can no longer use safely, the sides make an ideal trellis for climbing plants such as peas and beans.
- Tires: If you've got a set of old worn out tires that you've been meaning to take to the dump, simply fill them with garden soil and compost for instant planting beds. You may even want to paint the outsides for a pop of fun, bright color.
- Containers of all kinds: Almost anything that was designed to hold something, can be made into a garden container. Five-gallon buckets, an old wagon or wheelbarrow, plastic mixing bowls, laundry baskets, reusable cloth grocery sacks, old wash tubs, colanders, even a kitchen sink! The sky is the limit if you look at pile of "junk" with a thrifty and creative eye.
We hope your family will give gardening a try this season. With these wallet- and planet-friendly ideas, you and your kids will enjoy hands-on science lessons, fresh homegrown veggies, and lots of good, dirty fun!