Gardening As a Family

Gardening as a family is such a fun and frugal activity. We spend only $50 a year on it and have a ton of fun.Growing up I remember my mom spending hours at our local gardening center picking out her annuals for our bazillion planter boxes. Being a kid I would get dragged along and initially hated every second of it. ‘’Why does she have to look at every single flower? They’re all the same, just pick one!’’. As the years went on I slowly became more interested in it. I began to learn her favorites by name and why she was choosing certain flowers over others. On top of my mom’s love for annual planter boxes we also had many perennial flowers on our property which required some maintenance but were, for the most part, pretty self-sufficient.

It took a few years but by the time I was about 12 I had a genuine interest in gardening. This late spring tradition is something I’ve already started with my daughter, just three years old. When I asked if she wanted to help Mommy pick out some flowers she immediately lit up and demanded I get ‘’all the pink ones’’. While she hasn’t quite grasped color variation she will learn I’m sure.

Gardening is something that families can do together and it is something that fits every budget. If my budget was unlimited I could spend thousands every year on gardening stuff from lawn care to my own annual planters but I don’t. I usually set a budget of about $50 per year to buy annual requirements and it seems to satisfy what me and my family require.

I limit my annuals to four planter boxes. Two in front and two in the back. I mix them up with a few larger established plants, inexpensive fillers like tall grasses and smaller less mature plants and allow them to establish themselves through the summer. For new soil and flowers I spend about $30. The rest of the money is usually spent on new herbs and a few veggies. I buy them in the summer, keep them outside then move them inside for as long as they live through the fall and winter.

Growing herbs and vegetables is a great way for families to all be involved. Kids have fun planting and helping to ‘’take care’’ of the plants which they can then eat. If you’re fortunate enough to have an in-ground garden to grow these types of things it’s great. If you don’t, you can build one for cheap (check our Pinterest for ideas). The only reason I don’t have an established garden is because the only ‘’perfect spot’’ for such a garden is smack in the middle of our back yard which would drive us crazy mowing and this isn’t our forever home, I don’t want to rip apart the yard for a garden someone else may hate.

We grow in containers and it usually does well, our deck gets great sun exposer. Our daughter has a little watering can she can use to help water the plants. She will also be able to help pick the herbs and veggies as they mature and she can learn about the whole plant to food process.

Gardening is something I love doing. It’s something that can really help a family too- learning to grow your own food- as well something that can be truly enjoyable and an activity entire families can do together.

Do you garden with your family?

Spring is Here, Time for Yard Work

Child helping with yard workNow that we here in the East have survived a week of nothing but cold and rain the sun is finally out! It was warm at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and everybody was outside. The amazing thing was how much everything had grown during the week of rain! The grass had been cut right before the rain started and it was over the boy’s ankles already. Of course this then makes me nervous because of the ticks. There is always something to be concerned about.

With the grass and mud I have learned that even a 13 yr. old and a 10 yr. old are in their glory. But, it was also time to pull out the yard tools and get to work. There is always some pulling of teeth (so to speak) to get the boys to want to help. The preteen years are a bit of a juggling act. Ask them if they want to help and they would rather climb a mountain. Tell them they HAVE to help and then you get the “eye-rolling silent breathing gasp treatment”. Finding a happy medium takes not only a concentrated effort on the parents’ part but also amazing is the fact that these almost full-blown teens have the answers to EVERYTHING. And finally, the family is working as a team…sigh.

Teaching children to work for what they want

After getting the work done we all sit outside and relax. My 13 yr. old wants a dirt bike. My 10 yr. old wants anything with a motor. Again we have the “talk” about how if you want something you will have to work to earn it. They both answer at the same time that they know. If they KNOW then why do we need to have this discussion at least once a week?

So we are back to discussing how fast everything grows in the rain and the newest toys they now want/need. They are going to work for what they want and have asked for extra chores. This is going to last until the middle of the week when they have to be reminded if they want those things they need to do the chores.

Two things come to mind when I think about the day. My kids are growing and changing as much as nature has shown us today. As with the flowers and grass my kids need to be fed and guided and yes pruned back every once in a awhile.

Teaching my kids they have to work and earn what they want is very important. I want them to learn how it feels to have earned something rather than just have it handed to them.  They will learn that if they really want something it is worth working hard for and in the end it will show them that they can do pretty much anything they want if they put their minds to it.

Do you give your children chores? Do they earn the money for the extra things that they want?

Egg Carton Garden — Update

Seedling in an egg cartonI promised you all an update on our egg carton seed planting project in a couple of weeks. Well, I am very happy to report that after a little over a week, our seeds are sprouting like crazy! I couldn’t wait for two weeks to update you, I had to do it ASAP — check it out!!!

Broccoli Sprouts (1 week 2 days)

The broccoli was the first to show it’s leafy head. There are a bunch of sprouts. These aren’t actually in egg carton containers though, they are in a plastic container that my husband filled with the seedling soil. He sprinkled the seeds in and now we have enough plants for the whole neighborhood. The cucumbers, green onions, and basil are also in that container and doing rather well.

Green Onions (1 week 2 days)

The bush beans and bush peas are doing excellent! In fact we’ll probably need to plant them in the ground – or our raised bed – this weekend. Over the past couple of days they have really take off. I think it’s safe to say that we are off to a great start!

Bush Beans and Bush Peas (1 week 2 days)

The only thing I’m worried about now is getting them into the ground. As I mentioned before, we really need to plant the beans and the peas soon. They are busting out of the egg cartons. Hopefully, the weather isn’t too wet and cool for them. I guess we’ll see…

Are you starting a garden this year? How are your seedlings doing?

Garden Starts in an Egg Carton

egg cartons make great garden starters

Photo by CAPL

In the post Spring Fever is Hitting; Time to Plant some BulbsI talked about the idea of using an egg carton to start bulbs. Well, I thought that was a fantastic idea and something the boys would really enjoy doing!

Every April, my husband and I start thinking about what we will be planting in our garden. We usually go to the store and buy seeds and starter kits. However, I’ve been trying to save egg cartons – since they always make for an easy and fun craft idea for the kids – so we had a few to spare, and decided to see if we could use them to start seeds sprouting.

Now — I’m not 100% sure this is going to work, since the starter kits we use are made of plastic but if can work for bulbs, it should work for seeds right? I guess you are going to have to check back to see if things are sprouting or not. I really hope they do, because the boys are so excited!!! We planted bush peas, bush beans, cucumbers, green onions, broccoli, and basil.

Getting started with planting seeds in egg cartons

We did buy seeding starter soil – which was a little more expensive than regular gardening soil – but I figured it might be work the extra $$. We let the boys spoon the soil into the egg cartons and they planted the peas and beans, since those seeds are big and easy for them to handle.

The boys added a little more soil after they put the seeds in, then they used a spray bottle to saturate the soil with warm water. After that, I loosely wrapped each carton in plastic wrap and put them in a warm spot. Now we just need to keep an eye on them, keep them wet and as soon as I see some little sprouts we’ll take them out for a little sunshine.

Check back in a couple of weeks to see what’s {hopefully} sprouting :)

Have you ever used egg cartons to start seeds indoors?

Spring Fever is Hitting; Time to Plant Some Bulbs

Tulip bulbs ready for planting in the spring

Photo from

Living in the northeast and having to deal with the cold and snow, spring is more than welcomed. The kids are getting antsy and this isn’t helping mom any! The boys want to ride their bikes and of course that is not going to happen on the ice and snow, so I needed a project. We are going to plant seeds and bulbs.

This project is not expensive at all and you will need the following:

  • Egg trays
  • Potting soil
  • Newspaper
  • Seeds or bulbs
  • Spoons

How to start seeds or bulbs in an egg carton

To start this project it is easier to get the potting soil moistened BEFORE the kids put it in the egg trays. I learned the hard way that the soil doesn’t always absorb the water and well it can be extremely messy.

Next you will want to lay down newspaper or something to protect where you and the kids are working. Then let them fill the egg “cups” with the soil. Usually about halfway up the eggcup is enough.

After this is done then you help them plant the seeds or bulbs and put them in a sunny location and watch for sprouts! The kids so enjoy doing this and I am a plant lover myself.

Make sure to keep the soil moistened but not flooded. When watering it is best to watch closely if the little ones are doing it so you do not end up with swimming seeds.

The potting soil does not need to be expensive nor do the seeds. A trip to the local “dollar store” will yield great rewards. I have bough the potting soil and seeds at the local dollar store and had great results.

After the seedlings are a good size and it is warm outside you can transplant into the ground. Not only do the kids enjoy this project it makes spring seem a little bit closer. Although KidsAin’tCheap they sure can be fun!

Have you ever started a garden with your kids?