From the Archives: Planting Time

This post originally ran on April 11, 2010. Since it's planting time again here in the Northeast, I thought I'd re-post it. (Note: I made some edits to reflect the date).

Several Aprils ago, when my kids and I gardened with their friends, the weather was an unseasonably warm 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 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 planted, we watered them gently.

And, we got a little silly! Why not... this is supposed to be fun, right?
All photos by Alison Noyce

Have you started gardening with your kids, yet? If not, think of how you might start a small project this weekend. If you live in the city or have a small yard, check out this post on gardening without a yard for suggestions. 

If you haven't done so already, check out my Pinterest Boards. They're loaded with resources for you.  I'm building a new board of Gardening Books for Kids and adults.

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