by Geriann Green, Permian Basin Master Gardener, Junior Master Gardener Specialist
Dirt and kids go together, for some like partners. Many children really do enjoy working in the soil, watching things grow, and maybe eating the fruits of their labors. A fun children’s gardening project is to create a planter that is all their own. Using a tire scheduled for recycling is an inexpensive way to start. Wash the tire with a grease remover and rinse thoroughly. Let dry for a day. To really make it their own, let the children paint the exterior of the tire. It is suggested that the tire be painted with exterior latex paint and be entirely covered with one color and when dry, turn them loose artistically making the tire their own. To avoid a painting catastrophe, cardboard, newspaper or plastic could be placed under the tire. While the tire drying, talk with the children about where to place their garden, talking about what is needed for a plant to grow.
P – place, L – light, A – air, N – nutrients, T – thirsty (plants need water) and S – soil. Before the tire is moved, place a section of landscape fabric in that area that has been selected. The fabric will enable Place the tire over the landscape fabric and make sure the tire is level. Fill the planter with a good potting mixture. A trip to a gardening center to pick out plants could be scheduled. Explain to the children about how to carefully handle the delicate plants while planting. Or if the time is right, let the children select seeds that they could watch grow, flowers or vegetables. Check with your local Texas A & M AgriLife office or the Texas A & M website for the suggested dates for planting. Once the planting is completed, show the children how to carefully water their plants. A watering can is usually a safer and controlled way to water container plants without damaging them. Explain how to remove any weeds that may crop up, while not disturbing their plants. Create age appropriate activities to help them keep track of the plant growth, when it rains, temperature, the good or bad bugs and the watering schedule. For older children, a journal logging that information could be an option. For younger children, a poster board to keep track of scheduling watering and feeding, and drawing pictures of plant growth. And of course, taking pictures along the way, displaying all that has been accomplished.
What a wonderful way to spend time with children, introducing then to the wonderful world of gardening and the mystery of plant growth.