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Gardening with Kids

Luke & Raquel love to garden with Mom & DadWith school out for summer, kids have an abundance of time on their hands, and one good way to kill some of that time is with gardening. From their early years of picking flowers and watching butterflies, to older kids gathering the crops their vegetable gardens grow, any age child can learn and enjoy the garden. The most important thing to remember when it comes to gardening with children is creating an interest and encouraging their discoveries.

An important thing to remember when gardening with kids, is not to overwhelm them.  Gardening can seem daunting for adults, let alone a preschooler, so it’s important to gage the activities for their age. For younger kids, simply exploring the garden can be the best way to introduce them to the idea of gardening. Looking at the bugs, smelling flowers and looking at the blooms can be awe-inspiring. 

As they grow a little older, give children a little more responsibility by having them take care of the plants.  Watering the plants, making plant labels, weeding and helping harvest the crops are great ways for elementary school children to enjoy the time in the garden.  As kids grow even older, give them larger jobs like planting, moving rocks, or building a fence to keep the rabbits out of your garden.

As children age, their roles in the garden change, just as they change depending on what time of year it is.  In the winter months, forcing paperwhites and amaryllis can keep their interest in plants and growing things, while the spring is a great time to watch seeds grow. Summer time is all about taking care of plants in the garden and fall is for harvesting your crops and cleaning up the yard to prepare for winter. 

So why get your kids into gardening?  The most obvious reason is that gardening gets kids outside & in touch with nature. Turning off the video games and movies, and getting out into the fresh air.  Gardening is also a great form of exercise for kids. Another benefit of gardening with your kids is it may get them to eat their vegetables.  Knowing they grew what is on the table keeps the adventure of gardening going.  Some of the best vegetables to grow with kids include snap peas cherry tomatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, cucumbers and potatoes. Finally, gardening helps prepare kids for life. Putting in the hard work and seeing how it pays off in the end will show them that hard work gets results.

So no matter how old your children are, or what time of year it is, gardening can be a great experience for kids to learn and an amazing way to bond as a family.


Let's Go Blackhawks!


New for Your Garden

With a new gardening season underway, this is your chance to break from your normal routine and try something new in your garden.  Here are ten great ideas of what you can do differently this year.

  1. Don’t overthink it.  Sometimes planting a simple container, with one or two plants, can far surpass the beauty of a complex container garden.  Using the common geranium or petunia may seem boring, but they are so common because they are reliable.  Use these plants as your fillers and try something new and different as your accent plant.
  2. Grow herbs. Herbs seem like an easy way to get into edible gardening, but no matter how basic they appear, herbs add great fragrance and taste to any garden. 
  3. Try container edible gardens. If you don’t have a huge yard, or any yard at all, container gardens work well for many edibles.  The key is to know the habit of your edible.  For tomatoes, you will need a support or cage for the plant as it grows.  For beans, you will need a trellis for the plants to grow up, and for cucumbers, try growing a bush variety to cut down on the need for supports. Peppers and strawberries are always an easy one to grow in containers. Just remember that perennial edible plants, like strawberries, rhubarb and blackberries for example, will need to be planted in the ground over the winter to come back the following year.  You can also place the containers up against the house and bury them in mulch to help them winter over.
  4. Build raised beds. Along with edible gardening in containers, you can easily build a raised bed for your edibles.  Raised beds also make great places to plant annuals as well. Incorporating these beds into areas of your yard that lack interest can help fill in the empty spaces of your yard.
  5. Plant with food. Along with the previous ideas, incorporating edible plants in with your annuals can add a new texture or fragrance that you would not normally get.  Using herbs like dill can give a light and airy feel to a pot, while a rosemary topiary will not only give your planting structure, but an awesome scent as well.  Just be sure that when you mix edibles with annuals, you feed your plants with an organic fertilizer that is safe to consume.
  6. Use the whole color wheel. There’s lots of green in the foliage we plant, but breaking away from that can help add depth to any garden.  Plants like heuchera or coral bells, coleus, blue-green hostas and purple sweet potato vine, are just a few examples of colorful foliage you can use.
  7. Strategic planting. When planting your garden beds, especially with perennials, keep in mind the bloom time of the plants.  You want to make sure you have flowers blooming throughout the year and not just during the early summer or the fall.  Incorporating perennials with different bloom times will help give you an even look of color throughout the season.
  8. Plant for the bees. Despite their bad reputation for stinging, bees are a vital part of our gardens.  Incorporating plants that attract these little guys can help the overall health of your yard.  Planting natives in your yard, and having a water feature, can help keep the bees happy, and will most likely attract some beautiful birds, too.
  9. Plant for the monarchs. Monarchs are another pollinator we should be working to attract to our gardens.  Plants in the milkweed family are always a safe bet for these, as well as butterfly bushes, salvia and alliums.
  10. Plant in the fall.  There’s a lot going on in the spring. With the warm weather finally arriving, various sports games every weekend, and graduation parties to attend, finding time to garden can be hard.  Waiting to do your perennial planting in the fall is one way to be sure you still get done what you need but don’t necessarily have to spend the time in your garden all at once.  Planting in the fall can be cheaper, too, as many plants are put on sale later in the season.





Memorial Day Weekend Hours

We will be open all weekend long, including shortened hours on Monday.  Have a great weekend and enjoy the time honoring those who have sacrificed so much for our country.

Friday: 8:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Sunday: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Monday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


Tricks for a Great Garden

To new gardeners, the task of maintaining a garden can seem overwhelming.  Between watering, weeding, pruning and feeding, there is a lot to keep up with.  What veteran gardeners aren’t telling you, however, is that there are some simple tricks to help make gardening a little bit easier on you and your back.

The first trick that everyone should use, is mulch.  It seems really simple, but a lot of people do not take advantage of using mulch to help prevent weeds and keep the soil from drying out.  By spreading a layer of mulch around your perennial garden, vegetable garden and around trees, you are helping block the sun from reaching any weeds that may be growing, as well as keeping the the sun from drying out the soil quickly.  This will help you in the long run from having to constantly pull weeds and water plants in the heat of the summer.

Another trick to use is fertilizer.  It seems like a no brainer, but regularly feeding your plants can make a world of difference.  When it comes to what to use in your garden, there are a wide variety of fertilizers to choose from and depend on your type of garden.  From organic fertilizers, manure and mushroom compost in edible gardens to high-phosphorous fertilizers to help with blooms to high-nitrogen fertilizers for your lawn, you will most likely need more than one type of fertilizer in your toolbox. Every fertilizer has three numbers listed on it, for example 10-10-10.  These numbers are nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium, and the numbers represent the percentage of each of these elements in the fertilizer. Different plants need more or less of these elements, but the labels on the fertilizers should say which plants benefit most from its combination of elements.  Having a regular “feeding” schedule will keep your plants happy, healthy and thriving all season long.

When it comes to plants in your garden, a great trick for selecting your plants is to choose low maintenance annuals.  Planting drought tolerant plants or flowers that do not need to be deadheaded throughout the season take a load of work off your plate when it comes to your garden.  We’re not saying to avoid plants that need to be staked or clipped back, but mix them in with other low maintenance plants rather than planting a whole bed of higher maintenance flowers.

A great way to add interest to your garden is with vertical interest.  Using taller grasses or flowers in your perennial gardens is one way to do so, but there is another way to get pops of color sitting higher in the garden.  Placing taller pots throughout your garden and planting them up with colorful annuals will help add the colorful interest throughout the garden.

When starting a new garden, the task can seem daunting. But keeping in mind some of these tricks, getting those beautiful blooms  can be a lot easier than it appears.