Planting Time

During my son's birthday party, his friend, "J" came up to me in the kitchen and said, "Michelle, can I have some seeds?" I was confused by his question. Did he want sunflower seeds to eat? (My kids will request sunflower seeds in this way but I didn't think "J" would).

Then I noticed the trowel in his hand. I said, "Oh, do you want to plant some seeds?"


I explained that I couldn't get the seeds out right then because I was in the middle of preparing food for the party. I asked if he'd like to come back on another day and do some planting. He eagerly responded "yes," and I promised to make the arrangements.

Last Wednesday, I followed through on my promise. The weather was amazing- sunny and 90 degrees. We started by choosing what to plant.

Not surprisingly, the kids wanted to plant pumpkins, so I explained that we have to wait until it's consistently warmer, even during the evenings. For all of my friends in the northeast who may think summer is here because of the amazing weather we've been having...don't be fooled into planting your whole garden. There's still a risk of frost. For now, you can plant things like pea pods, spinach, kale, swiss chard and other greens. Wait until around Memorial Day for those heat loving plants like tomatoes, basil, squash, peppers, eggplant, and watermelons.

In preparation for the boy's arrival, I had used a pitch fork to turn over the soil in the section we would plant. Then, I had the kids help me rake the area smooth and remove any visible rocks.

Next, I showed them a little trick for planting pea pod seeds. We laid the seeds out in a zig zag pattern on top of the soil, close to the wire that will support the plants when they grow. By doing this, we could see where the seeds were and move them around as needed. Once the seeds were set, we poked them into the soil using our fingers. By going as far in as their second knuckles, the seeds are at just the right depth.

We planted the pea pods in the middle of our three foot wide raised beds, near the wire frame. On the north side of the supports, we planted spinach and on the south side of the supports, we planted mesclun mix. Spinach and mesclun seeds are much smaller and harder for little hands to control. If you plant with young children, it's better to stick with large seeds like peas (and later watermelons, pumpkins, sunflowers, and beans) that they'll be able to handle. I know our spinach and mesclun seeds didn't all end up in rows along the outer edge, but I don't mind a little chaos in my garden. It's more natural that way, anyway.

Once the seeds were all planted, we watered them gently.
And, we got a little silly! Why not... this is supposed to be fun, right?

Those of you who live in the city or don't have yards may wonder how you can have a garden. Come back tomorrow for my suggestions.