This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Miracle-Gro Gro-ables. All opinions are 100% mine.
Last year I tried to start a container vegetable garden, and with the demands of being a mom and the water restrictions we had going on in California, it did not turn out well. This year I am determined to create a garden with the kids to teach them about self-reliance, get them into some hands-on learning and to recognize the beauty of our Earth.
Making a plan to create a garden in a small backyard like we have in California required some creativity, and gardening with kids required some forward-thinking. I knew if I had too many things going on at once the kids would get into everything ahead of me, and we would end up with tomato seeds scattered in the lawn, or basil seeds poured into the dog’s bowl. (Life with twin toddlers is never dull…)
My kids gave me some feedback on this gardening project. I will share their comments with you at the end. My two year old twin boy made me smile with what he said!
Simple gardening tips were my focus and I want to share with you the tools I discovered that made gardening in a small backyard with kids easy and enjoyable.
Tips for Gardening in a Small Backyard
If you have some open space, you could look through these Vegetable Garden plans to plot out where you want to create a garden in your small yard. We rent our home, so I did not want to tear up the lawn in the backyard. I made a plan for gardening in a small backyard that used the existing flower beds and containers.
Container and Flower Bed Vegetable Gardens
I used my vegetable garden containers from last year. Since I wanted to grow a variety of vegetables and herbs, I decided to also use some open spaces in the flower bed that lines the back of our yard. When we move, the plants can be pulled out, so for renters this works for us.
Gro-ables Seed Pods
Messing with packets of seeds seems to always turn into a major loss of seeds and a majorly fun fine motor activity for my kids. I could just plant the seeds myself, but I wanted the kids to be involved for each step of our plan of gardening in a small backyard.
I discovered this simple tip: Miracle-Gro Gro-ables are seeds, mulch and plant food all in a convenient pod that a child can easily handle. It was going to be our own Gro-ables Project.
I showed my children how to peel off the paper label and we read the directions on how to plant each type of vegetable or herb. After breaking up the dirt a bit-the dirt was pretty dry in our flower beds-each child was able to take a turn pushing a Miracle-Gro Gro-ables seed pod into the ground. The benefit of using Miracle-Gro Gro-ables for gardening in a small backyard is that you have one seed pod for each type of plant you want to grow. Multiple seeds are in the pod, but you do not have to plant them individually. Once the Miracle-Gro Gro-ables sprout, we will thin the plants just like when you plant with loose seeds.
It is so easy to not have to add mulch or plant food to the dirt since they are both already included in the Gro-ables. This keeps the planting process simple too so that gardening with kids does not become a complicated process.
As the kids and I planted the seeds for our vegetable and herb garden, I made a rough map labeling what was planted where so we could go back after the planting was complete and add signs. For the kids this was going to serve two purposes:
1) They would know what was growing in that spot.
2) They would know not to step on or dig up what was growing in that area!
Simple, Waterproof DIY Garden Signs
After we planted our vegetables and herbs, I wanted to make signs to be sure we knew what was where and to help the kids learn to not dig any of it up. My preschooler and I made some really simple, waterproof DIY garden signs to label each plant in our garden.
How to make waterproof, DIY garden signs
Popsicle sticks or paint stir sticks
Zip top bags (I used snack size)
Seed packet labels
Hot glue gun
I had craft sticks, so I used those, but I will say paint stir sticks would be better because they are taller. I am a use what you have kinda gal, so we went with it!
Since we used Miracle-Gro Gro-ables, we used the peel-off labels from the pods as our garden labels. With a simple tip we made them waterproof. After removing all the pod lids I kept them in a box until we were done planting.
My preschooler then placed each label into a zip top baggie.
She sealed each bag on her own, and I checked to be sure each bag was closed all the way. (This is the waterproof part.)
Then, I hot glued a craft stick to the back of each bag. I looked back at my crude garden map that I created as we were planting. We stuck each DIY garden sign by its corresponding plant. If I hadn’t made that map we would not have remembered what was planted in each spot! If you’d prefer to print off garden signs, I found a few cute ideas for you to check out:
Now the kids and I can observe which plants are growing the quickest and which are growing the slowest. Within 1-2 weeks we will see sprouts because our Miracle-Gro Gro-ables Project seeds are guaranteed to grow!
The kids get to learn a little earth science, biology and botany all at their young ages-in small doses, and we had a little Spring homeschool preschool and tot school lesson wrapped up in outdoor fun.
I decided to ask my kids what they were excited about when it came to their experiences gardening. Here is what they said:
8 year old boy
“I am excited because then we don’t have to buy stuff at the store.”
“If we didn’t grow anything it would just look like a desert here.”
5 year old girl
“I like tomatoes so we can pick tomatoes and eat them.” (She really does like tomatoes-eats them for breakfast even!)
2 year old boy
“My digging in there; digging a hole; playing in the dirt.”
This answer cracked me up! He saw the gardening experience as playing in the dirt, and in a way it is. It is great that an important family activity can be viewed as play by kids.
(My 2 year old twin girl was not playing along with our little interview, so she is not included this time. Normally she is the talkative one!)
The kids had fun helping me plant our garden, and it was pretty stress-free for me with the simple tips I used for gardening in a small backyard-with kids.
You can learn more about Miracle-Gro Gro-ables here: Gro-ables Project
Do you have a small backyard? How do you fit in gardening in your space?