It’s been a wet spring across the country and it’s been a little hard to get outside. To help your little ones deal with the rain, plan shorter, more frequent trips outside in between the rain showers. Planting a small garden can be a good way of reminding your tiny tot that after spring showers come May flowers.
Almost all wildflowers will grow quickly, providing your small one with satisfying results. But you can go the extra step by helping your toddler understand where their food is coming from, how systems can be interconnected, and how someone as small as a preschooler can contribute to food regeneration.
Pumpkin seeds are big and easy to grab. Right about now is a good time to plant them and have them ripen in time for fall jack-o-lanterns. You’ll need to give them some space to grow and lots of sun. Another drawback in Texas is that they need a lot of water – 2-4 inches per week. They can be susceptible to insects like squash bugs, but you can discourage that by planting some nice mint around the pumpkins.
Be careful with mint because it can go crazy in your garden. You might want to plant it in individual containers placed artfully in your pumpkin patch instead. The seeds are super tiny so may not be the best activity for your little one, but with all those seeds making it into the works, you’re almost guaranteed to see something grow. Plus, it’s safe for your child to simply pick a leaf and chew on it for a bit of natural flavor.
Another plant that can help your pumpkins grow healthy and strong is the marigold. These pretty flowers can be started inside on those rainy afternoons. Germinate them in soilless potting mix until seedlings appear, then give them light and moisture until they grow their second leaf. Then they’re ready to be transplanted to your garden space. Once there, they’re pretty strong-willed, determined to grow in dry or wet soil and will give your little ones pretty flowers he or she can bring in for Mommy or Grandma. And they give butterflies a pretty home to visit.
You can get a little exotic if you want with your little one by growing plants out of the kitchen. Cut the off the top of the pineapple about half an inch below the leaves, then trim away the bark at the bottom until you find the root buds. These are small, brown bumps around the stem. Then simply plant the top in soil and keep it moist. Pineapples won’t give you a lot of noticeable growth, but they make interesting plants and can begin flowering about the time your preschooler starts big school. If you want to encourage flowering after the first year, you can place an apple at its base and wrap the plant in plastic for a few days. The apple gives off a chemical that encourages flowers. Again, though, you’ll need to have patience. It could take another two or three months before flowers appear, and not all pineapple plants will produce flowers.