Wednesday, April 06, 2016

You Reap What You Sow: Starting a home garden

by Dale Ho, Hon. RECE

Amidst the intermittent snowfalls we've been having, there are the subtle signs of spring if you look close enough, and right about now we start thinking about planting. 

You reap what you sow: 

The benefits of starting your own home garden are endless, it saves you money, it's a great stress reliever, all family members can get involved, it's sustainable and my has endless learning opportunities.  You can use these teachable moments to talk about where food comes from, health and nutrition, science, math, literacy, learn about composting or have kids start a garden journal...its hands on learning!

I asked my friends over at The Royal Botanical Gardens if they could offer us some suggestions for a successful spring planting...

"As far as spring gardening goes, Peas, Spinach, Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli, Leeks, Onion, Beets, Carrots and Radish can all be planted into gardens in April in the Golden Horseshoe area if the soil has had a chance to warm and dry out a bit so that it isn’t waterlogged. 
For younger kids, bigger seeds like peas are easier to handle. Radish, spinach and lettuce grow really quickly so they help maintain interest. Small raised beds are a great way to garden with young kids  - they can reach across the bed to get to the plants without stepping on the soil and compacting it (or stepping on the plants). You can also buy floating row covers that can fit over a small raised bed, like a little greenhouse – that will warm the soil sooner, and protect young seedlings from frost. And, building a raised bed is a great way to practice math skills and work with simple tools.  
Letting kids have their own small bed to cultivate is important – the sense of ownership, responsibility and accomplishment when they’re successful with their own little garden is a wonderful growth experience for them.  
Most of the earliest garden blooms are bulbs that need to be planted the fall prior, but pansies can be transplanted out any time now, and calendula seed can be sown now. The blooms of both are edible if they have been grown without pesticides. Marigolds grow quickly from seed, as do nasturtiums, but they need warmer weather (their flowers are both edible too)." -Barbara McKean, Head of Education, Royal Botanical Gardens.

Happy Planting!

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