When container gardening, you may want to involve your children in the process. Children can benefit from being responsible for their own container gardens. They can learn about the scientific processes involved in the growth of plants and enjoy the rewards of caring for a plant when it blooms or bears fruit. Every child can participate in container gardening. Whether you live in the city or in an apartment building, all that you need is a container, seeds, sunlight, water and a little know-how.
Location is important when starting a container garden with your child. You need to start your container garden by choosing a sunny spot in the house. Generally, the best places are going to be close to the windows. If the weather is warm, a balcony or porch is an ideal location for container gardens. You can also use window boxes or planters if you do not have a designated outdoor space, but want to keep the possible messes that come with a garden out of the house.
Make your selections wisely. Not all plants can thrive in container gardens. Some plants require a more dedicated space for their root growth. While there are some plants that you would be better off having the professionals grow, there are plenty of other ones that will grow just fine in a container. You can generally tell whether or not a plant is going to do well in a container by reading the package that the plant seeds come in. Most seed packets will say right on the bag whether or not you should use those seeds in a container garden. If you are ever in doubt as to whether or not a seed will grow indoors or in a container, you should feel free to ask the garden center associate for help. It is also important to involve your child in this selection process.
Allowing your child to choose what they will grow and having them play an active role in making the selection decisions will help them feel like they own the project and will encourage them to remain engaged in the process of caring for the plant.
Now you must help your child find the right size pots for the plants that they have selected. The general rule to keep in mind is that smaller plants can thrive in smaller containers and larger plants need larger containers. For example, herbs and small vegetables like baby carrots, loose-leaf lettuce varieties, and cherry tomatoes, can fit in smaller containers. Most medium sized planters (12″ square pots, or 12″ diameter round pots) can hold larger vegetable plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, zucchini, and snap beans. The larger pots, such as planter boxes can hold a number of the plants mentioned above, or even larger plants such as eggplants, squash, corn, or even dwarf fruit tree varieties. Do not forget about hanging containers, they can be a great solution when space is minimal. These same sizing rules apply to flowers as well. For questions about individual plants or if you are unsure about what size containers are appropriate, ask the garden center associate (that’s what they are there for and a good nursery will have employees who are qualified to answer questions like this).
You can also have fun with your container garden by being creative when it comes to choosing the containers for your plants. Let your child think of some common items that you may have that would work as a plant container. Plastic or wooden crates, empty food containers or coffee cans, beach pails, baskets, outgrown shoes, a wagon, a toy box no longer in use, or a wheel barrow are just a few suggestions. You can also allow your child to paint or otherwise decorate their plant containers. Allowing them to personalize the container will help to keep them interested in the growing process when the plant is small and anti-climactic.