How Does Your Garden Grow

waterAnnabel has been three for a couple of months now, and I’ve slowly been introducing her to doing chores. Most are very basic things that I want her to do automatically – put her shoes away, pick up her toys, hang up her one million dress-up items. And then there are a few things that she will eventually have on her list of responsibilities that luckily, she enjoys – like cleaning the mirrors and windows and watering the plants. This plant watering thing was a recent discovery but I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

I have a black thumb. I love having plants and flowers, but I never, EVER remember to take care of them. Ninety five percent of our outside landscape is on a sprinkler system, which allows us to have a beautiful yard with zero effort from me. But we do have a few potted items that need to be watered by hand. You’d think I’d remember to water them since I look at/walk past them every single day, but no. My brain is a black hole. Annabel’s, however, is not. She saw me watering the plants in our kitchen window (an extremely rare occurrence) and asked me what I was doing. When I explained it to her, she wanted in on it. Since then, she’s reminded me every other day that the plants need watering. My plants look AWESOME now.

watering the plants

watering the succulents

watering the kichen plants

Now she says things to me like, “Mama, did you know plants need water to grow, just like I need food?!”

It makes me remember a time in my life where my thumb was green…or at least, more of a brown color. We had a small garden in my backyard when I was a kid. I think we had strawberries and maybe carrots, too. I have very little memory of actually caring for the plants, but it was so long ago that I will just pretend I was a little more on-the-ball as a child. Although if I’m being realistic, the odds are high that my grandma actually watered and tended the garden.

I’d like to take advantage of Annabel’s interest in flowers and plants by planting a little fruit or vegetable garden just for her, but I have no idea where to start. So green-thumb readers out there, I would love some helpful advice on how to grow Annabel’s garden…and also some helpful reminders to water it.


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How Does Your School Garden Grow?

I can’t help myself. A good reporter would probably start at the beginning of this garden’s story. Perhaps they would open with pictures of what the garden looked like before the grant writing, the meetings, and the endless hours of work. But instead, I’m jumping right to the finished product because I’m so excited to show the results! Find out what makes this school garden fabulous after the jump.

Here’s my plan: I’m going to be writing a series of posts about school gardens. These posts will highlight a NYC public school garden that the PTA created for the students to explore, play, and learn. I’ll write about the steps this school took to get where it is today and their plans for the future (it involves a rooftop garden!). For now, let’s look at the results of all their hard work!

I know this garden didn’t happen over night. It took months of planning and working. Yet, from what I observed when I visited last Friday, it’s worth it. I didn’t have to pose the kids for the camera. They naturally ran from one sitting area to another. It was amazing to watch the kids explore and learn on their own without direction from adults. Aren’t kids wonderful? Aren’t school gardens wonderful?

As I followed the kids around, I found out what made this garden so special and put together a slideshow (with tips!). My favorite picture in the slideshow is the garden’s interactive sculpture. It looks so easy to make and the kids adored it! Do you have a school garden? What’s your favorite part of it?

If you don’t have a school garden and want to learn more, click here to get started. There you’ll find an excellent list of resources to help you design, install, and sustain a school garden. Good luck and enjoy the slideshow!

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  • Tip #1: Create sitting areas for the kids. 1 of 10
    Tip #1: Create sitting areas for the kids.
    Everyone got a chance to play teacher!
  • Tip #2: Invite imaginary play. 2 of 10
    Tip #2: Invite imaginary play.
    This is the "fire pit". The kids love to roast imaginary marshmallows and make imaginary s'mores.
  • Tip #3: Label the plants. 3 of 10
    Tip #3: Label the plants.
    It's great that the kids can find out the scientific and the common names of all the plants in this garden.
  • Tip #4: Feed the birds. And add some color while you’re at it! 4 of 10
    Tip #4: Feed the birds. And add some color while you're at it!
    A third grade class was in charge of making these bird feeders. Aren't they beautiful?
  • Tip #5: Don’t forget art! 5 of 10
    Tip #5: Don't forget art!
    I love that this sculpture lets the kids interact with their environment. Find out my kids favorite thing to do with it in the next slide.
  • Tip #5.5: Make the art interactive! 6 of 10
    Tip #5.5: Make the art interactive!
    My kids love to pore small pebbles down the tubes. It sounds like rain!
  • Tip #6: Include places to run and explore. 7 of 10
    Tip #6: Include places to run and explore.
    My kids love to count the stone steps as jump to each one.
  • Tip #6.5: Make sure there’s room to run. 8 of 10
    Tip #6.5: Make sure there's room to run.
    I love the large path in the middle of the garden. It gives the children plenty of room to run.
  • Tip #7: Plant a Variety of Plants 9 of 10
    Tip #7: Plant a Variety of Plants
    I love that this picture show cases a variety of textures in this garden. The smooth long leaves, the soft pointy petals on the flowers, and the rough bark on the bench makes it so interesting to explore!
  • The school garden series will continue! Up next: 10 of 10
    The school garden series will continue! Up next:
    The first steps to starting a school garden. How did this PTA do it? Find out soon!
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