For many, gardening is a form of relaxation or stress relief. Whether you like to plant flowers, vegetables, or both, the process of planting, cultivating, and watching the results bloom is extremely satisfying. Gardening is also a fun activity for kids. Not only is it an excellent way to get them outside, but it is also a learning experience. You can all learn about the life cycle of plants, find out where food comes from, and even try some vegetables that you started from seed. Here are some ideas for low-maintenance plants and veggies that are fun for the whole family.
To get started around the yard, you can choose shrubs for greenery and hearty flower to add color. Keep in mind that Norcross sits in zone seven for planting, so it’s important to select plants that thrive in this zone.
Ann Folkard Hardy Geranium
The Ann Folkard hardy geranium is a perennial with 2-inch-wide flowers in a bright magenta color that will stand out from the green foliage. Its black eye in the center gives it a distinct look. This flower is perfect for planting zones ranging from five to nine, and it starts flowering in late spring, continuing until the first frost. You can plant it in areas with full sun or partial shade, and it likes moist, well-drained soil. Hardy geraniums are nice spreading plants that are perfect for rock gardens and borders.
Image via Flickr by moonlightbulb
Winter jasmine blooms early in the season, offering color throughout all the seasons. It is easy to establish and simple to take care of so you can have bright yellow flowers in your garden, even during the cold season. Winter jasmine likes full sun and well-drained soil, and even though it is not a climbing plant, it will grow over some structures and hold itself up if it has some help from other plants. You can use it to cover up walls or fences or plant it to grow over a trellis. This plant does tend to get weedy, so have the kids keep up with pulling them to make sure it stays looking its best.
Dianthus flowers, also known as pinks, are from the same family as the carnation. These have a strong but pleasant smell and are a hardy annual, perennial, or biennial. Plant these as a border or in a potted display with full sun or partial shade. They will flourish as long as they can get a good six hours of sun each day. Dianthus need well-drained, fertile soil, and make sure to only water the base, so the flowers stay dry. This helps prevent mildew spotting. Dianthus are easy to take care of too. Just apply fertilizer every eight weeks, or use a slow-release fertilizer. Keep in mind that some varieties are self-sowing, you might need to deadhead them. This just means you need to remove the faded or dead flowers to encourage more blooming.
Sunflowers are a must for any garden. You can plant just a couple since they take up a lot of room, or if you have a big space to fill up, plant a bunch. These tall plants sprout in just a week and can grow up to 2 feet tall in just a month. The buds flower and produce hundreds of seed kernels. Make sure to choose the confectionary sunflowers, so the seeds are edible. They naturally dry in the late summer, and the whole family can enjoy the seeds, which are rich in iron and protein. Just send the kids out to gather them up, and then roast them in the oven with some of your favorite seasonings. Make sure to save a few to plant next summer.
A vegetable garden is a great way to get the kids involved in what they eat, and it might even get them to try some new veggies. Make sure to prepare the garden before planting. Plan out what veggies you want and find the right spot for each one to maximize their growth and fruit production.
Cherry tomatoes are fun and easy to grow. Start with seedlings instead of seeds to see results faster. Make sure to plant these in full sun and put in a 2-inch stake next to each seedling, so you and the kids can loosely tie them as they get taller. Tomatoes like lots of compost and water at ground level to help keep the leaves dry. If you don’t have enough space in your garden, cherry tomatoes also do well in containers. You’ll see results in 50 to 75 days, and the kids can have some fun picking the abundant crop.
Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas grow quickly with early results. These take about 10 days to germinate, and they mature in about 60 days. Once you see the sugar snap peas growing, you can even pick and eat them right off the vine with edible pods and sweet peas on the inside. The veggies prefer a partly shaded location that is a little cooler. Plant them in loose soil, making sure they are about 1 inch apart. A trellis works if you want them to climb, but it is not necessary.
If you have the room for the spreading pumpkin plant, then is it worth it for the kids. Keep in mind that pumpkins take up a lot of space, so if you have a small vegetable garden, it’s not a good idea. You can plant from a seed that will sprout in just about a week, and a few days after, you’ll see the vine leaves start to grow. These will creep along the ground. Pumpkins take up to 120 days to harvest. The kids can check to see if they are ready by tapping on the hard outside to see if they sound hollow.
Planting a garden is a fun activity for the whole family. Choosing low-maintenance plants means after you spend some time and effort with planning and planting, you can then sit back and enjoy. Are there other flowers and veggies you’ve successfully planted with the kids? Let us at Crème de la Crème of Peachtree Corners know, and we’ll add it to the list.