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If your child is anything like mine, there's nothing they like more than getting dirty and eating yummy food (hopefully not at the same time). Here's a fun idea for keeping those little hands busy as the weather warms up and school lets out - make a container garden! This is a great way to help your child appreciate the importance of healthy food, get excited about planting his/her own garden, and... play with dirt, mud and maybe even worms! Can it get any better?

Here are some tips to get you started, illustrated by my son and I's own adventures!

My son adding dirt to the containers before we plant.  We're using window boxes, a 12 My son adding dirt to the containers before we plant. We're using window boxes, a 12" clay pot, and an old salad container.

1. Decide what you want to plant.
There are lots of options - from vegetables to flowers to shrubs. We decided to plant an herb garden, an edible flower garden, a greens garden and a pizza garden. Knowing what you're planting will help you identify an appropriate container, as some plants have deeper roots than others.

2. Find a container.
When choosing a container, look for size and drainage. There are four important points to keep in mind. First, you want a container big enough to keep the soil moist. The more soil you have, the greater the chance it will stay moist. Second, drainage holes are very important. Keep in mind you can drill holes in many containers, for example old milk jugs. Third, you want good, aerated soil. Garden soil is often too dense, so choose a lighter potting soil if you can. And finally, think about how big your plants will get, and what kind of roots they have. In general, a 6" pot is fine for flowers or herbs. But if you're planting a tomato or pepper, you'll want something closer to 12".

Crosby Tomato 1 Planting a tomato!

3. Prepare your soil.
Fill your pots about halfway full with soil, and water them generously before you plant.

4. Plant!
Once your pot and soil are ready, you can plant! Be sure to break up the roots a bit before you settle the plants into the soil; this helps the roots grow nicely. And don't be afraid to cluster plants together. You want a dense look, and can prune plants if they really get out of control. Once the plants are in place, fill the pot to a few inches from the top with soil.

5. Water again! 

Crosby planting herbs 2 Planting dill

6. Put your pots in a sunny spot, water frequently and enjoy! 
It's really hard to go wrong once you've planted. But if you do run into trouble, check to be sure your pot is getting enough sun (or shade, depending on what you've planted) and water. I water my pots three times a week, and it's enough. You might water a bit more frequently to get them established, but there's no need to drench them daily.

Container Garden Ideas: 

Crosby watering Don't forget to water before and after you plant. After that, watering 3-4 times/week should be plenty.

Greens garden: Plant a window box with salad greens and herbs. Your child can harvest his/her crop and make a little salad!

Herb garden: Plant a pot with basil, oregano, cilantro, mint and chives. This is a great prompt for cooking together!

Edible flower garden: Plant a pot with plants that have edible flowers, like nasturtium, marigolds and violas. Add these to the salad!

Pizza garden: Plant a deeper pot with a tomato, basil, oregano and chives. Once they're mature, you can harvest and make a fresh, homemade pizza! Try eating it with the salad you've made, above!



Gardening is fun! Gardening is fun!
Crosby planting 3 Looks yummy!










Greens Garden, planted in an old salad container Greens Garden, planted in an old salad container
Herb Garden! Oregano, Basil, Dill, Cilantro Herb Garden! Oregano, Basil, Dill, Cilantro
Pizza Garden! Tomato, basil. oregano, chives, and a marigold for some color (don't put that on the pizza!) Pizza Garden! Tomato, basil. oregano, chives, and a marigold for some color (don't put that on the pizza!)

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