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Gardening Articles

Home Gardening Guide for the Family

submitted by Sarah
(with the Girl Scouts of Western Washington)

Gardening in your backyard, in containers on your patio, or even in window boxes provides an opportunity for your family to learn about nature and the natural world. No one's first garden looks like the cover of a horticulture magazine, and that's OK. Perfection isn't as important as effort and learning. Anyone who's new to gardening will have a learning curve, whether they're an adult or a child. But with a bit of effort, anyone can create a garden to be proud of.

There's a lot to learn when planting your first garden. For example, not all plants, flowers, or trees are appropriate for all climates. The first step will be learning what climate zone you are located in and which plants will grow best there. You'll also need to know when to plant and when to prune, and you'll want to account for that in your planning as well.


Think about how children will approach gardening while planning your project. You'll want to think about their age, their abilities, and their interest level. It's also important to let them plan a project that excites them so that they feel real ownership of the garden.


Pollinator gardens support the environment by providing food and nectar for the insects and birds that pollinate local crops, ensuring the continued production of fruit and vegetables. When planning a pollinator garden, it's important to include nectar-rich flowers. A variety of colors, shapes, and sizes is also vital for attracting pollinators. A good pollinator garden offers a diverse choice of food for local pollinators.


There are two basic types of flowers: annuals and perennials. Annuals only bloom for one season, while perennials bloom again each year. Perennials are typically more expensive. The biggest factor when planning what flowers to plant is the amount of sun each part of the garden receives. Some flowers need lots of sun, while other plants thrive in shadier spots. To make the garden reflect its owners, think about picking flowers in your family's favorite colors or the colors of everyone's favorite sports team. Arranging your garden in color blocks can make a big visual impact with minimal effort.

How to Grow Flowers:


Along with flowers, consider growing edible plants. Planting, nurturing, and harvesting food changes the way people view the food they eat, and this is especially true for children. Vegetable gardens don't need a lot of room; they can be as small as a container on your deck. Homegrown vegetables are often cheaper and more nutritious than the vegetables available at the local supermarket. Growing vegetables also provides children with a chore that allows them to see the impact their labor has on the final product.

How to Grow Vegetables:


Just like growing vegetables, growing fruit can help you save money and give you access to fresher, healthier food. Make sure to plant fruits that are suitable for your climate: Tropical fruits won't grow in the Northeast, for example. Children might enjoy growing fruit more than tending to a vegetable patch, since children tend to prefer fruit.

How to Grow Fruit:


Anyone who cooks regularly knows that buying fresh herbs is often expensive and the grocery store's definition of "fresh" doesn't always match up with yours. Instead, try growing the herbs you use most often when cooking. Herbs don't take up a lot of space, so you can easily plant a variety of herbs in a window box or planter. Some herbs sprout flowers, so herb gardens can even be pretty. Growing herbs can make children more likely to experiment with eating new foods and eventually cooking them, too.

How to Grow Herbs:

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