Gardening is a great outdoor activity you can get your children involved with. Though you might think starting a garden is too time-consuming, there are plenty of low-maintenance garden options that you can try, like planting perennial flowers and easy-to-grow vegetables or hardscaping. With just a little TLC from you and your kiddos, you can have a splendid little garden and teach your kids about this hobby in the process.
Getting Started With a Low-Maintenance Garden
Image via Flickr by LandBetweentheLakesKYTN
When planting a low-maintenance garden, try a few of these tips to start off on a good foot:
- Start with a small-scale garden. Dedicate a small area of your yard to your garden, leaving plenty of room for whatever veggies, fruits, and flowers you plan to grow. But having a smaller area forces you to focus on just a few items at a time, making it more manageable for the whole family.
- Pick regional plants. Plants that are native to your climate zone or can tolerate it are more likely to grow and survive. Plus, they’re also better able to resist local pests. Centennial is in Zone 5, with average temperature ranges between -10 degrees and -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Know the sun and water needs for each plant. Plants that need more sun should be planted in areas where they can access that light, so if you don’t get a lot of sun in your yard, you may want to opt for plants that don’t need that much sun. As for water needs, you can get plants that don’t require too frequent watering so that your garden is more easily maintained.
- Promote better growth. Start composting garden and other kitchen waste to mix into the soil of your garden for extra nutrients. Then, add crushed rock gravel around the area to discourage weed growth and drain away water.
Vegetables for a Low-Maintenance Garden
While Zone 5 has a medium growing season, you can cultivate plenty of vegetables from seed to maturity before the first frost. Here are some of the vegetables you can grow in Centennial:
Beets, which you can grow from seeds, are available in red, green, yellow, white, and striped varieties. Plant the seeds 1 to 2 inches apart in rows that are 1 foot apart. These plants need well-drained soil in full sun so they can germinate in one to three weeks and mature in about 70 days. When the beets get to be about the size of a golf-ball, ask your children to gently pull them out. If you let them get bigger, the beets will be too woody to be edible. You can eat the root as well as the leafy part of the plant.
Start broccoli seeds indoors at least six weeks before the last frost date. When the seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, have your children transplant them in well-drained soil in a sunny area. Make sure the plants are at least 20 inches apart and the rows are 3 feet apart. Water regularly. The broccoli heads should be ready for harvesting in 70 to 100 days.
Plant English peas, snow peas, or snap peas between February and April in well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Place the seeds at least 2 inches apart and in rows that are 12 inches apart, and help your children to set up a trellis for the vines to climb on. Water just enough to keep the soil moist. You can harvest the peas in about 70 days from planting.
Start the okra seeds indoors at least four weeks before the last frost date, and wait until there’s warm weather to transplant them outdoors. Okra plants require full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to 4 feet. They can take up to two months to produce okra. Harvest the plants when they’re about 3 inches long.
Flowers for a Low-Maintenance Garden
Flowering plants are generally easy for young children to help take care of. Plus, these plants produce beautiful blooms that attract butterflies, bees, and birds, so your children learn can about pollination. Here are some flower varieties that you can grow in Centennial:
These perennial flowers come with showy spikes in pink, white, blue, and purple. Plant the seeds in well-drained soil in a sunny area. When the plants are about 12 inches tall, insert stakes in the ground to support them. Water regularly and cut off dead spikes to ensure good-quality blooms.
Many kids love the fragrant, bluish-purple lavender plants, so cultivate your own from cuttings or get starter plants from your local nursery. Select an area with full sunlight, and keep a distance of at least 4 feet between the plants. Water immediately after planting and then once or twice a week. The plant produces buds after it reaches 3 feet in height. Cut the stems and use them to make fragrant sachets for the house.
Salvia, which is also known as sage, belongs to the mint family, has aromatic leaves and flower spikes, and some varieties can grow to a height of 5 feet. Salvias can grow from seeds or cuttings. Whichever you choose, plant them at least 3 feet apart in well-drained soil in a south-facing area that receives full sun. After the flowers appear, keep removing the withered ones to encourage further blooming. If you want seeds, leave the flower stalks as they are.
Peony plants need at least eight hours of direct sunlight and well-drained soil to thrive and produce their gorgeous flowers. Plant the tubers about 3 feet apart, and water thoroughly. You may need to add stakes to support the peony stems when the plant reaches the flowering stage. The peony petals are edible, and you can add them to iced drinks or salads.
Once your garden gets going, you can teach your children about responsibility and the reward of hard work. If there are any particular flowers and vegetables that your family has successfully grown, do let us know here at Crème de la Crème of Centennial, CO, and be sure to share your gardening tips.