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Playground Equipment Blog
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Create Container Gardens and Compost Bins with Your Family This Summer

Teach children about where their food comes with help from container gardens and compost bins! It’s good for kids’ emotional well being, your wallet, and your health!


Discover the positive impacts of cultivating a green thumb.


Studies show that spending time in nature provides countless health benefits. For example, connecting with nature lowers blood pressure, normalizes heart rate, and relieves stress. And for children, planting a garden facilitates an opportunity to learn about the world around them, as well as explore the food system they interact with on a daily basis. By helping your kids to create beautiful and easy-to-maintain container gardens, you’ll teach them about healthy eating and the importance of environmental stewardship.


Reduce your impact on the planet through composting.


Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is through backyard composting. There are several different methods by which you can get rid of kitchen waste, food scraps, and garden debris.


The first method? Create a compost bin! You can craft one by repurposing old shipping pallets, often obtained for free via trading websites and services like Craigslist. You can also check your local lumber or shipping yards.


The other method is composting with the help of some squirmy little friends… worms! Seriously. Worms can be used to recycle excess food and organic material, turning it into “black gold,” another term for nutrient-rich soil that’s the envy of all seasoned gardeners. The whole process is called vermicomposting. Through vermicomposting, worms consume food scraps, paper, and other natural materials, turning them into compost after digestion.


Regardless of the method you choose, one of the keys to composting is your carbon-nitrogen balance. It’s important to strike a balance between carbon and nitrogen-rich materials.


Nitrogen-rich materials are referred to as greens, because of their green or vibrant hue. These include are fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, and anything that could be considered “fast rotting.” Carbon-rich materials are brown in color - and they include newspaper, cardboard, sticks, egg shells and other organic, hardy materials. A 2:1 ratio of green to brown is a good balance to strike for a healthy compost bin. Kids will have a blast recycling things like egg cartons, egg shells, banana peels, vegetable leftovers, and paper lunch bags.


Start a container garden.


Container gardening is a great way to grow your own vegetables, especially if you have limited yard space or live in an apartment. Big plants require a lot of space, with roots that need extra room to grow. So, it’s best to avoid small containers which might not be able to store enough water, especially on hot summer days.


To start your container garden, you can use plastic tubs obtained from dollar stores, upcycled barrels, buckets, and even hearty baskets. The bigger the container, the greater your potential yield. Just be sure that your container has drainage holes drilled in the bottom of your bucket.


Add about one inch of gravel to the bottom of containers to improve drainage. And remember to water plants closer to the root of the plant. It will help with water absorption. Add bits of compost to your soil for even better plant nutrition.


Have children plant starter seeds and watch them bloom!


One of the joys of gardening for children is watching a seed transform from a tiny nugget into a beautiful flower or robust vegetable. And luckily, you can use materials in your home to start your seeds. Reuse old coffee cans or egg cartons, and decorate popsicle sticks as plant markers. Or, wrap newspaper around an old soda can, creating a “pot” shape, tape the sides, and slide it off the soda to reveal a compostable seed-starter pot. Place them in a kitchen window or on a back porch and watch your seedlings sprout. Kids can even have a contest to see whose seedling grows the biggest or the fastest.


Some gardening tips for kids:


Let them pick out the seeds! They’ll be much more invested in produce and flower varieties that strike their fancy. For example, if your child loves the color yellow, plant sunflowers and watch your garden transform into a golden flower patch.


Enlist children in watering your new plants. They’ll learn important skills like responsibility, nurturing, and perseverance.


Written by: Parker Jones

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