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Design ideas for a little garden for 3 yo child  RSS feed

 
Guy De Pompignac
Posts: 192
Location: SW of France
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Hi !

My 2 yo girl is happy to hemp in the garden, irrigating plants, moving some mulch, weeding pathes. But my raised beds are not child-friendly, so i would like to make a little space more child-friendly, so it will be her garden. It would be for next summer so i have time to design something really cool and interesting for her and she will have 3,5 yo by then.

It would be very helpfull to tell me every ideas you could have for such a garden, it could be on species, cultivars of vegetables, pathes, treillis structures, etc ...

Some initial toughs :

* Something to eat every days (indeterminate tomatoes, day neutral strawberries)
* Maturity easy to spot (red tomatoes)
* Easy to harvest : color (purple beans, red tomatoes), non spiny (spineless OP summer squash cultivar ?)
* Easy to eat in the garden (edible raw, cherry sized tomatoes ...)
* Some shade : treillis with scarlet beans, beans, tomatoes
* Nutritionally superior food ? Like extra beta carotene tomatoes ?
* Not too susceptible to overwatering (she likes to do it a lot !)
* beautiful : colored veggies, edible flowers ?
* Some things sowed by seeds so she can do it (beans ...)
* Summer harvesting : not to "waste" place for only fall maturing veggies
* Some things to do on her garden while i'm in the main veggies garden ?
* What shape and paths ?

Any suggestions ?
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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all your ideas sound fantastic, this is what has my daughter who will be 3 on monday likes in our garden. the things she loves in the garden are helping me check on the worm bin (and finding any sort of bug in the garden and watching them for hours with her almost 7 year old brother) splashing in a wadding pool which is actually a small hard plastic pond form but we use it as a wading pool. picking and eating anything that is ripe, right now it is huckelberries but a few weeks ago all we had was fava bean leaves and she picked and ate them with as much enthusiasm as the berries. digging in her sandbox which is much easier to dig in than the garden and helps keep her from digging places I don't want like the middle of paths. she likes climbing and jumping on various logs I have placed for the kids to use sort of like big stepping stones or for an obstacle race sort of thing. and her most favorite thing ever is swinging in a hammock like it is a swing. she loves the hammock.

we also have a funny tree root sticking out of the ground from a long dead tree that my kids have decided is their horsy and they pretend to go for rides on it. I think my daughter started that game.

we also have 2 play house sort of structures. one made form bicycle rims. you can do an internet search for bicycle rim dome and find pictures of them and instructions to make them. they are very easy to make and we got all the parts for ours for free. my kids pretty much never play in it. and the other structure is made from bamboo and twine and my beans have not grown over it yet. both playhouses are pretty much ignored by both kids.

my son who I already mentioned is almost 7 loves all the same things but also loves to tie string to things and make his own giant spider webs. I try and keep him doing that outside rather than inside so it happens in the garden and when he is into that my daughter loves it as well but she generally never initiates that game.

I am growing a weeping huckelberry tree to turn into another playhouse I don't know if my kids will play in it ever but they will enjoy the berries and if the kids don't use it I will turn it into an outdoor shower area maybe even put an outdoor bathtub under the weeping huckelberry tree.

 
R Scott
Posts: 3343
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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small raised beds to help with drainage. 2 foot wide square foot-style beds are small enough for kids and protect from overwatering.

Definitely do the arched trellises. Cattle panels, conduit, bamboo, material doesn't matter. But make the space too small for you so it is HERS. The little hiding places are great.

Use a soft, comfy mulch for the walkways. sawdust, bedding shavings, playground mulch, etc. Something for bare feet and sitting down and not getting muddy.

Make a bed of mint. My kids love to go pick mint and make tea. Do what you need to in order to control it from overtaking the rest of the garden.

Make a bee and/or hummingbird bed. Wildflowers, sunflowers, clovers, etc. with a place in the shade to watch. Let her pick flowers for a vase every day. That bed can be biomass/composting material at the end of the season.



 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Most children have short attention spans, so quick growing things are great starters.
Radishes are typically 3-4 weeks from seed-to-eat.
That will help hold her interest until the slower crops are mature.
Keep planting every week, and she will have plenty to keep the interest going.

'Patio' (cherry) tomatoes are usually a bit faster than their full sized cousins. She will get bite sized nutrition in varieties that come in red, yellow, green, 'chocolate', and even 'zebra striped'. A typical plant will produce tasty little morsels for months on end. I haven't met a child yet that doesn't enjoy 'popping those little red pills'.

Snow (Chinese) Peas are another easy crop. They are typically about a 60-70 day crop. They can be planted every week or two to keep a continuous harvest right up to first frost. Lovely for snacking on right there in the garden - I seldom save enough to be worth taking into the kitchen! They can be planted in the ground several weeks before the soil has warmed enough for tomatoes, peppers, squashes. If you can get your last crop to germinate 3-4 weeks before first frost, they will go dormant. Next spring, once the soil temperature has risen enough, they will resume growing where they left off in the autumn. This is also an indication that the time is perfect for planting this years first crop of them. With their head start, they should be producing peas about the same time your radishes are.

 
D. Logan
gardener
Posts: 581
Location: Soutwest Ohio
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Yellow bush zucchini are a must in my opinion for children. They grow quickly, so children love watching the huge bushy leaves of their plant spring out and because the fruits are yellow, they can easily see as the zucchini go from flower to full veggie in days. The quick growth seems to fascinate children and offers an immediate reward once the flowers start blooming. While zucchini isn't the best choice for what kids love to eat, I have found that most enjoy certain recipes. Specifically, fried zucchini, stuffed zucchini, zucchini relish and zucchini crisp (like apple crisp).

Scented plants that grow readily and have attractive flowers are a safe bet. Chocolate mint, pineapple sage, etc. Kids seem to get a tickle out of crushing leaves and chewing stems, but the plants tend to be strong enough to handle it without complaint unless the roots are getting pulled out. Even then, mints are probably fine and will return.

If you are going to mulch, consider garden oyster varieties of oyster mushrooms. They break down the mulch, feeding the plants around them and are pretty quick to put out a fruiting body. This seems especially true if you mulch with something easy to break down like grass clippings or straw. Children are delighted to come out one morning and find the bubbles of white emerging from their garden once they know that these are also a crop rather than some strange alien plant invading.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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something I have wanted to do for my kids but have not done yet. plant flowers that open at different times of day. like 4 o'clocks and moon flowers and morning glories. my kids love morning glories. they say the flowers are for 'the purple flower game' my husband and I have yet to learn the rules for the purple flower game as they seem to change constantly but my children get very happy and excited anytime they see purple morning glories.
 
kay Smith
Posts: 24
Location: Alabama
cat hugelkultur trees
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My little girl has always been in the garden and loves it too!

Things she loved at the age of 4 or so were stalks of corn because they towered over her and there are these little moths that land on the stalks. She chased those stalk to stalk.

Sunflowers because they are like flowers a giant would have.

This year she planted a little bunny garden on the edge of our 'forest' BC we watched a rabbit for a good while one morning. She has really enjoyed her bunny garden.
 
Jay Emm
Posts: 21
Location: Southern Ontario, 6A
forest garden trees urban
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My four year-old loves picking lettuce greens and baby kale. She can water them all she wants, and it was very easy for her to learn how to pick them. She also likes being able to eat what she picks right away.

Any plant with flowers that attract a lot of pollinators has gone over well, too. She'll sit and watch the bees and bugs, giving them all cute little names and making up back-stories for them.

I'm totally taking note of other people's suggestions. Having a wee trellis sounds like a particularly fun idea. Thanks everyone!
 
David Livingston
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Posts: 3213
Location: Anjou ,France
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Peas, Straw berrys in Hangers and courge/pumpkin any type

David
 
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