Kids can garden, too! It might seem that gardening is too complicated for kids, but that isn't true at all. In fact, kids can be some good horticulturists if given the chance. There are several plants that grow well in Denver and are easy for kids to garden and maintain. Start kids out in gardening with the easiest plants and let them work their way up from there.
Before getting your Denver kids gardening, be sure they have the essential supplies. Suggested gardening supplies include tools, gloves, proper soil and food for the plants, a child-sized wheelbarrow and desired garden decorations. Denver soil is more like clay, so a good organic garden soil is recommended for the best results.
Sunflowers are one of the easiest flowers for kids to start out with. They come in various sizes, making them versatile to grow, no matter the size of the garden bed. Sunflowers thrive in the Denver climate, as they can be very hearty.
Portulaca, also known as moss rose, is a fun and interesting plant for the kids to grow. The unique shape and texture of this flower delight kids, as do the colors. Portulaca is a good flower to grow in Denver because it blossoms in the sun.
Vinca are a favorite of my own kids. These were some of the first flowers they planted and they continue to come up each year. Not only are vinca beautiful, but they grow very fast in Denver. Kids can sometimes be a little impatient, so vinca can help in that area. Our vincas bloom almost the entire year in Denver if we keep them in pots and use good soil.
Herbs are very simple to grow in most any climate. They can be grown outdoors or in a window box container. Herbs need good sunlight to grow, which makes them perfect for Denver in the spring and summer. They’ll need to be kept inside during cold weather, however. Another plus is that kids feel special when their parents use the herbs they've grown to make family meals.
Green onions often grow wild in Denver, but if your yard doesn't have any, this is one of the simplest plants for kids to grow. Like the herbs, these can grow outside or in a window box. Give the green onions plenty of water and sunshine for the best results. As with the herbs, kids love it when their plants are used in the family cooking. We like to use them in homemade salsa, chili, and other southwestern dishes.
Looking for free educational activities for kids in Houston? As a mom to many, who lived and homeschooled in Houston for a while, I discovered lots of great places to go. Here are 5 of the most interesting free educational activities for Houston kids.
The Sam Houston Boat Tour is great free activity for kids in Houston. Operated by the Port of Houston Authority, the free educational tour lasts 90 minutes. While on the tour, kids can observe international cargo vessels that may pass by, as well as the operations at the port terminal. While free, reservations for this Houston activity must be made in advance.
The Health Museum in Houston contains a variety of educational exhibits for children to explore.This interactive science exploration is for all ages. It focuses on the human body, mind, and spirit, encouraging kids to focus on health. On Thursdays, the general admission is free for families from 2pm - 7pm.
At Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, kids can enjoy the education and beauty of nature. Native and cultivated plants thrive in this 300 acre horticultural museum of life. In addition to learning about the plants by observation, Houston kids also can enjoy the educational benefits of observing the animals that live in this park.
Utilize the Kids Workshops at Home Depot to their full advantage. Once per month, the Home Depot locations in Houston offer free workshops for kids, in which they get to learn and build projects that they can use. These educational workshops are not only free of charge, but are a great supplement to homeschool wood shop. They also work as an extracurricular educational activity for Houston kids in both homeschool and traditional school.
Free Crafts for Kids are offered every Saturday from 11am - 3pm at Houston Lakeshore Learning Store locations. Yes, crafts are so much fun for kids. But, did you know that they also have educational value? Craft activities can help kids with focus, creativity, and fine motor skills. These skills all are required to complete other educational activities. Houston kids will enjoy creating fun and educational crafts that they can use to decorate their rooms, give as gifts, wear, and more. A different craft is featured every week.
*I originally published this as The Houston Parenting Examiner (no longer published there).
Houston, Texas' high poverty rates alone are a good reason to teach kids lessons about sustainability. Did you know that 1 in 5 Houston kids are at or below poverty level? Using community gardens to teach children about long-term food sources could help reduce those numbers and children will hone life skills, including knowledge on being healthy and taking care of the environment.
Community Garden vs. Personal Garden
Who says kids need to choose between a community garden or personal garden? There are benefits to both. Community gardens help bring neighborhoods and communities together as a team. This can help foster skills needed in the workplace, as well as be a building block for neighborhood growth. Kids can indeed grow their own personal gardens and should. However, combining both could be the optimal choice.
Need for Sustainability Lessons in Youth
Many of our youth these days know more about electronic gadgets, such as computers and video games, than they do about survival. Sustainability lessons provide skills they can use in the workforce, as well as life in general. By starting kids on the path of sustainability, we are paving the path for a better future. If a major catastrophe were to happen, how would your kids handle it? Do you have the survival and sustainability skills it would take?
Community Growth Through Shared Gardening
Shared gardening provides food for communities, which means that it can help fight hunger in kids. According to a 2010 report from chron.com, hunger rates in Houston area children have increased over 85 percent when compared to just 4 years ago. This also provides opportunity for income. Community gardeners, including kids, can sell their harvests at local farmer's markets and to grocers. These gardens also can be a great source of food supply for local food banks. When dealing with unemployment and hunger issues, community gardens are a simple solution to growth and sustainability. Studies also show that community gardens help reduce crime rate.
Can My Houston Community Afford This?
Grants are often readily available for Houston and other communities who choose to organize and maintain gardens for this purpose. Money should not be a reason for putting off getting a garden started in your neighborhood. In fact, by not participating, your community is likely losing out on potential funds. Urban and community gardens also are preferred as many corporate farms are not sustainable. This is due to soil erosion and the tight packing and caging of animals.
Who Teaches the Kids to Garden?
Volunteers can be called in to help teach the kids about gardening. Also, the neighborhood residents should look to each other for support. This is yet one more benefit. Gardening in a shared space can help bring neighborhoods together, creating closeness in a community. Anyone who knows how to garden can chip in their knowledge to help everyone pull it all together.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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