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Giving Kids a Green Thumb: Tending to the Garden

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The weather in May is finally starting to warm up, and so far we've planted seeds and watched them grow into seedlings. Now is the time to start tending to the garden—to actually get those plants into the ground—but only after some help from my expert garden assistant. By now, my daughter is really getting excited about getting out her gardening gloves and trowel and hanging out around the plants!

Finding a good dirty spot!

If you have a well-settled patch of dirt or fertilized garden bed just perfect for your new plants then you won't need to do much outside of digging a hole. If you're like us, blessed with river bottom clay soil in our yard, you might need to improvise. Consider constructing a raised garden bed and filling it with planting soil year after year. You'll benefit from never having to deal with weeds or intrusive plants as well as not having to amend the soil! It also makes digging and preparing the area much easier, and puts it at a kid-friendly level as well!

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Plant it deep.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with growing vegetables and fruits is placing the plant at the surface level. Make sure your seedlings have grown well, and then plant them so that only the very top few leaves are showing. For our tomato plants, that meant planting them almost on the bottom of our raised planter! You'll be happy you did when your plant continues to harden and grow with a strong root structure underground!

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Water however you can.

Now that the plants are in our garden, I don't have to worry about watering them on my own every day! We installed a drop irrigation system to give the plants fresh water on the surface level as well as deep in their roots. You can continue to water by hand, in which case you'll want to keep a schedule and involve your child in the task as well. On extra hot days, we definitely give the plants an extra bath in the late afternoon!

Keep a close watch.

My daughter's interest in the growing vegetables and fruits doesn't wane just because our plants are still weeks away from producing edible goodies. We make sure we visit the plants three to four times a week to check and make sure everything is going as planned! It's helped us avoid some snail issues and to replace plants that were just not making it, and gives us a great excuse to play in the backyard after school is over. Soon they'll be giving you the garden report without any prompting from you at all!

Now we have to start scouring the recipe books for all of the amazing thing we're going to cook in the kitchen this summer with our produce! We just can't wait!

See the whole "Giving Kids a Green Thumb" Series!

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