I’ve never had a green thumb. Whenever someone gave me a plant (even a fat one) I feared the worst for its future fate. This summer, during dinner while I was cutting an apple, my daughter played with the seeds. Without thinking too much, I proposed to her: “Would you like to plant these seeds in one of the pots we have on the balcony?”. Mine was more like an attempt to spend a different evening than usual, but, a few nights later, I hear Giulia calling me: “Mom, run, come and see!” … very small seedlings had sprouted. My daughter’s amazement and joy made me reflect. Growing a small vegetable garden at home or on the balcony can become an extremely educational activity for children, especially to make them understand the importance of taking care of something consistently.
How to start …
Gardening is possible with children of all ages. Most little ones can observe the birth of the sprout from the seed, taking care of the resulting seedling will be a task for the parent, who must not renounce “Tell” a story, day after day, about the plant that grows and develops. THE older children must instead be empowered, entrusting them with some care, especially the watering ritual.
The first thing to do to grow a vegetable garden on the balcony is identify the right plants according to the season. Better to start with short cycle vegetables, or (as I did) with the simplest ones herbs. The size of the pots must be proportionate to the future size of the vegetable to be grown: for courgettes, for example, pots of 50 or 60 centimeters in diameter and 40/50 cm in height are needed. For lettuce, chicory, celery and most aromatic herbs, pots of 30 cm in diameter and 20 cm in height may suffice.
There location of the balcony plays a fundamental role: if the sunlight illuminates it all day, then any variety of vegetable can be planted, while if the light is not always present it is advisable to orientate on valerian, cabbage, chicory, chard and parsley. An important ally in the creation of a home garden is theexpanded clay which keeps the soil always moist and avoids stagnation of water that is dangerous for the roots. In addition to the clay, to be placed on the bottom of the vases, it is necessary to have a sheet of non-woven fabric to be placed on the clayey layer. At this point it is necessary of the soil mixed with 50 liter peat and slow release organic or synthetic fertilizer.
With some stratagem you can create a small vegetable garden even within the walls of the house, or in the office. The important thing is to have a fairly lit room available. Better to open the windows every now and then to let the air circulate. During the summer it is also advisable to move some pots on the windowsill: basil, sage or chillies, for example.
The garden work calendar
The work to be done, in every self-respecting vegetable garden, are many and vary according to the seasons. So why not create with our children a calendar where the tasks that each family member will have to perform will be listed? It is sure to be very informative and fun! You can then hang it anywhere in the house or, as we do, place it with a magnet on the refrigerator.