Gardening with Kids in Halifax

I've always said if I forget to feed something and it doesn't bark, meow or cry, well, it's gonna die. The evidence is in many sad green things that have entered my house alive and thriving and exited my house to rest in peace in the forest behind our backyard. I'm not proud and I want to change.

I've been trying my hand at container gardening a few vegetables because food is motivating for me - I'm just more likely to remember to care for food than a flower. Mind you, it doesn't mean I've had a lot of success with it. Last year I had the kids help me plant some vegetables but then I didn't move them to shelter during some torrential downpours and basically drowned everything. Whoops.

This year I used the guise of my Family Matters column to seek the advice of a local Master Gardener and got some great tips. I also found out about an awesome free seed exchange program at the Halifax library branches and picked up our free packets. Score! We're all set now and are going to get planting this weekend. Wish those poor little seedlings luck . . .

Container Gardens and Car Washes

I think it's finally safe to say the overnight frost is gone for this season and we can start our summer garden! We have various foliage around the house that came with it (and that my husband tends to) but I like having a little vegetable garden myself. Since we have a wooded area behind our house there are lots of little wildlife friends like deer, rabbits, pheasants, and squirrels who would make short work of a veggie garden so we plant one in containers on our second level deck.

Last year was the first time we tried it with varying results. The cherry tomatoes were our best success - and our favourite - so I got a few of those plus some regular tomatoes, celery, broccoli, and cucumber - and we started our container garden.

Miss M, naturally, asked to wear her gloves and Mr M, naturally, just dove right into the dirt. I was smart though and dressed them both in clothes that they didn't like/were too small/had holes so that no one had to worry about their favourite outfit getting dirty.

The kids scooped dirt from the bag into the containers with their shovels and then we added the plants. I was surprised how eager they were to do it and how they didn't tire of it even though we had three large round ones and one long rectangular one.

Gleeful fistfuls of dirt!

Gleeful fistfuls of dirt!

By the time we got to the last container Mr M was off with his trucks but Miss M was still working hard. Partway through filling this one she got a glint in her eye, peeled back her gloves, and then tentatively dug her hands into the fresh dirt in the bag. I smiled and encouraged her to do so and that was all she needed. The rest of the container was hand filled with a dirty, happy, little girl - perhaps I don't need to worry so much about her aversion to getting messy! She seems to be adapting well to the new rules.

Our "green" garden with celery, broccoli, and cucumber

Our "green" garden with celery, broccoli, and cucumber

When we were done planting I swept up the dirt and then brought out a bucket of soapy water, a couple old scrub brushes, and some towels and let them have a little Car Wash for the vehicles we keep on the deck. Trucks were scrubbed, and then the barbecue was shined, deck chairs were soaped up, and the kids ended up soaking wet.

Workin' at the Car Wash (and YES, I know we need to paint our deck

Workin' at the Car Wash (and YES, I know we need to paint our deck

It was the perfect post-planting activity as it got the rest of the dirt off the deck and got them relatively cleaned up before we headed back in the house (though, if I'm to be completely honest, I did send them right to a warm bath to scrub the rest of the dirt out of their fingernails and hair). :-) 

Here's hoping our little garden produces some food for us. I love snacking on freshly picked veggies!

Have you done a container garden on your patio? Do you have any tips to help it along?