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Not having a real garden has never stopped us from enjoying at least some of the gardening joy. Especially now with children, gardening on the balcony is a welcome activity as there is not much work (honestly, not too much space to get too many of those plant containers).
We decided to make a balcony vegetable garden. It’s fun and easy to keep it. The photos are from late spring, now it’s all green and we added additional recycled bottles to serve as green hanging baskets (we have a hanging garden too, yeey!)
I used hanging baskets, too in the past, but now do so only for those decorative plants that have nothing to do with our vegetable garden, because they are placed too high on ceiling hooks…
1) Use easy-to-grow vegetables.
Some of the easiest crops to grow in containers include:
- lettuce – there are many colorful lettuce mix seed packages, a lovely decoration, too!
- parsley, mint and similar herbs
- bush beans, etc.
One of my personal favorites, cherry tomatoes, are lovely and delicious, but in our climate they tend to be a bit demanding… I skipped them this year, in our son’s ‘first gardening season’ – but we’ll grow them next year for sure.
2) Pot placement – easy to reach and observe.
Position the gardening containers so that they can easily be reached and observed by children. Yes, it’s a no-brainer, yet I made a mistake at the beginnning, placing some of the pots too high on a shelf. Now we’ve adjusted it, so everything can be observed from our child’s percpective 🙂
3) Use seeds that spruce up quickly.
Especially if you are working with toddlers – they will remember the connection between seeding and growing plants easier.
Talking about seeding, you might want to use free, eco seed planters: like here, this spring we started rucola seeds in eggshells – it was so cute and so much fun! And our kid saw the results super fast, as rucola spruces up very quickly!
4) Plant something your toddler will love to eat
The safe way to go might here not even be vegetables – feel free to go with strawberries, if you have a picky eater. But it’s advisable to include at least a vegetable or two, your kid might start eating vegetables – if not for other reason – knowing thet he grew them himself! The trick has worked with many garden-tending toddlers, it might just well work with yours, too!
5) Make plant watering your kid’s daily routine!
You’ll be surprised how well a small child remembers things that are done daily. Myself quite forgetful about watering even my indoor plants, have benefited vastly from our 3-year-old’s memory: it’s him who would remind me it was time to water the plants whenever I’d forget! Sometimes more than once a day, but let’s not be too picky – better too often than not, right? (Especially during the these summer months…)
…) And make it FUN!
I know I promised 5 hints only, but let me tell you my favorite: if you look closely, you’ll notice we made tiny animals from clay and placed them into the gardening pots- in the photo below, you’ll find two piggies and a water bin in the top right corner. It’s pure fun, and our toddler is so happy to get water to the pigs – he doesn’t want them to stay thirsty (and usually he also gives them a good shower, so ‘they won’t be dirty’ 🙂
This gives an additional play perspective to gardening, and increases motivation to stick to gardening even when the initial excitement is gone.
One thing I need to add though I believe you are already aware of this: you should never leave your kid unattended on the balcony. Ever. We live on the third floor with a curious three-year old, so I’m very strict with this rule.
Gardening with kids, even if on a balcony and even in a tiny plant pot will teach your kids a love of nature – and gardening! Sometimes it will be a beautiful, rewarding exercise of patience and sometimes a learning lesson of the fact that sometimes we need to wait for what we want to have. But above all, it will be fun!
Have a look at how we added some fun to our (non-edible) plants in pots on the balcony last year: we made garden buddies for our decorative plants. A year later, they still keep our avocado and citrus plants company!
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