Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

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Start a Childís Herb Garden


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Plants With a Purpose
Start a Childís Herb Garden.

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Gerber Life Family Times Archive

FunAh, another spring season is in the air! With warmer temperatures and soaking rain showers come the inevitable flush of new growth on trees and plants. The enthusiasm for spring brings with it a perfect opportunity to introduce kids to gardening as a hobby. Nurturing a seed or seedling throughout the entire growth process is a rewarding and educational activity for kids of any age. This year, why not plan an activity for your child that incorporates plants that appeal to the senses by helping them start an herb garden!

Herbs are wonderful plants that are typically easy to grow, take up a minimal amount of space, have an interesting scent, and—most importantly—can be used in cooking relatively early in their growth cycle. The ability to quickly harvest and use herbs means your kids wonít have to patiently wait as they would have to do while waiting for other plants, such as tomatoes or cucumbers to produce fruit at maturity.

Once you and your child decide to grow an herb garden, you can visit your nearby home and garden center or nursery for herb seeds and/or seedlings. Herbs such as dill, rosemary, oregano, parsley, cilantro, basil, and chives are basic fresh herb choices that can fit into a small space and yield big rewards as an addition to dinner at the end of the day. Another interesting choice to include in a childís herb garden is scented geraniums. These special geraniums are grown for the aroma they emit rather than their flowers. They are available in a variety of scents including lemon, strawberry, lavender, mint, apple, carrot, hazelnut, nutmeg, and orange—to name a few. Let your child choose the plants they find interesting. Try mixing both seeds and seedlings so your child can experience some immediate gratification without having to be patient for an entire garden of seeds to germinate and develop leaves. Choose a few herbs to grow from seed as well so you both can share in the excitement of watching for the first sprouts to poke through the soil.

FunStarting an herb garden is simple and begins by preparing a location in your yard. A 3-foot by 3-foot area in your yard provides more than ample space for a childís herb garden. If yard space is at a premium, an herb garden can also be incorporated into a landscaped area along the foundation of your home. If you have no yard space available—never fear. Simply use a bag of potting soil as a portable garden (just cut holes in the bag for the plants—the bag keeps the soil contained and it can be placed on a deck or anywhere it will get adequate sunlight). Container gardening offers yet another possibility for homes without garden space. Simply purchase a large, lightweight plastic planter, fill it with a good-quality potting soil mix, and add plants as desired. If using a planter, you may want to plant either all seeds or all seedlings since growing seedlings need as much light as possible and the larger seedlings may rob them of light and hinder their growth.

If youíre planting outside in your yard or garden, youíll need to prepare the soil. With a shovel or a small gardening trowel, remove any grass or weeds to expose the soil beneath. Use a trowel to break up the soil so it is loose and workable to a depth of about 4 to 6 inches. Once the soil is prepared, decide where each plant will be placed. Then, following instructions on the seed packet or on the plant identification tag, plant the seeds or seedlings. When planting seeds, cover with the amount of soil indicated on the packet, press firmly so the seeds make contact with the soil, and water gently (so as not to wash the soil away). With seedlings, gently remove the plant from the container by lightly pressing on the sides of the pot to loosen the roots. Carefully grasp the stem at the base and pull the pot away from the plant. Dig a hole the size indicated on the plant marker (if a depth isnít indicated, seedlings can usually be planted to a depth just beneath the first set of leaves). Once again, press gently but firmly around the seedling to make sure the soil is secure around the plant. Make a ring of soil about 2 to 3 inches from the plant stem and water gently. The ring of soil creates a reservoir to hold water so it reaches the plantís roots instead of running off the soilís surface.

FunOnce the seeds and plants are in the ground, water daily until the plants are established and seedlings have sprouted and developed their first leaves. Thereafter, care is minimal—just water as needed (using a watering can with a head that creates a gentle shower) and remove weeds as they appear. Before long, youíll be adding fresh basil and oregano to pizza, fresh cilantro to homemade salsa, and rosemary to grilled chicken for a summer eveningís dinner. Your kids will be amazed at the scents and flavors that the herbs from their garden have added to the food on your dinner table. So nurture your childís green thumb by helping him or her start an herb garden. Youíll instill a sense of responsibility as well as an understanding and respect for the origins of the food we eat—with some tasty end results!

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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