Growing Young Minds | Herb Gardens 101

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Herb Gardens

Herb gardens are fun and fantastic for children to learn about gardening and teach children to be proud to produce herbs for the family.

As I write about planting herb gardens, I’m sitting outside, getting in touch with nature. I love spring, the week we have between winter and summer. Okay, so maybe we have nice weather longer than a week. But as you know, Texas has short springs and falls and too long on the other two harsher seasons.

So, while it’s gorgeous out, and the birds are serenading me, you’ll find me outside getting my hands dirty or with my hands on my computer. Container gardening is my passion, especially herb gardens, much like writing.

And writing about gardening makes my heart sing like the birds.

Children must learn from a young age the importance of gardening and getting their hands in the soil. They will continue their love affair for plants and flowers, herbs, and veggies if they experiment early and develop a green thumb.

Herb Garden

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. -Margaret Atwood

And they might be willing to try more veggies if they helped grow them. I love to go snap a piece off and add it to our food. Fresh herbs are the glitter of food—throw some on everything!

Having fun is key whether you’re starting an herb garden.

You can till an area in your yard for a large garden or use a raised bed. You can also use pots, big or small, and place them on your patio or windowsill. There is no limit to the type or size of the herb garden.

Ensure there will be plenty of sunshine wherever you decide to place your herb garden. Most herbs and veggies need six hours of sunlight daily. If you place your herbs in a window, be sure it’s a sunny spot, preferably in a south-facing window.

If container gardening, let your child pick the pot once you decide how big and where your herb garden will be. Then, you can go to a nursery or a big box store and make your choices. The container is the beginning, and choosing should be an adventure. Then, your child will feel excited and proud to be part of all the choices.

I have used terracotta pots, clay pots, small pots and larger pots, and a raised bed—all perfect choices. I’ve even used concrete birdbaths that get holes and no longer hold water. Any container with drainage will be a good choice for your child’s herb garden.

You should also let your child help pick the herbs you will grow. My favorites are basil, rosemary, parsley, thyme, chives, and cilantro. But the choices are endless.

And don’t forget to add mint. Many types of mint are fun, like chocolate mint, spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, orange mint, ginger mint, and lemon balm. Mint is excellent for container gardening because it spreads fast and is easier to contain in a pot. Also, don’t place mint plants next to each other because they can cross-pollinate.

Buy other items such as dirt, gloves, and gardening tools while at the store. Many stores will have child-size items, which will make for more fun. And think about including them in Easter baskets!

Prepare the ground or container with fresh soil.

One good trick if you are container gardening in a large pot is to fill the bottom fourth of the container with the plastic pots the plants come in or plastic water bottles. This keeps waste down in our city dumps, but it also takes up a lot of space in larger containers rather than more soil.

After you have your soil ready, plant your herbs. Let your child help as much as possible and let them get dirty. The more they are involved in planting, the more pride and interest in the herb garden they will have all season long.

After planting the herbs, let your child water the herb garden. Explain to them how important water is to the plants and tell them how often you will be watering the herbs. If your herb garden is outside, watering daily will be necessary once the temperatures get into the 90s and stay.

If you are keeping your herb garden in a windowsill, stick your finger in the soil every few days and water when soil is dry.

I have tried to grow basil indoors many times, but it requires a lot of water and sadly never makes it. Herbs look pretty in the kitchen but do better outdoors.

Before and after you plant your herb garden, check out these picture books about gardens to further your child’s education, and continue the discussion about gardening. Reading about gardens will keep the energy and excitement going strong.

  • IN A GARDEN by Tim McCanna and illustrated by Aimée Sicuro
  • IN OUR GARDEN by Pat Z Miller and illustrated by Melissa Crowton
  • UP IN THE GARDEN AND DOWN IN THE DIRT Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

There are many more great garden picture books available; check them out at the library or purchase them at Fabled Bookshop & Café, or Bookshop.com (hint hint…Easter baskets!)

There is nothing better than picking something you grow yourself. Your child will be amazed and gratified to watch their herb garden grow.

I pretend I’m Ina Garten when I run outside to pick fresh basil for my pizza or lasagna. It puts a fresh skip in my step and my food.

Herb gardening is a fun and fantastic way to educate your child on plant growth and sustainability. But, of course, herbs are fun to cook with and eat, too.

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Hi, I'm Dedra!! I am a late-in-life writer trying to fulfill a lifelong dream and emerge into the kidlit world. I am writing, editing, and querying while learning patience and failing forward. I hope to be a published children's book author with my picture books and YA novel. I graduated with a degree in Journalism from the UTA in 1988, but because of raising three beautiful children and life in general, I started writing professionally in 2014. My husband of 34 years and I raised our children in China Spring, right outside of Waco. Even though my children are all in their late twenties, all out of college, and all have careers (yay!!!), I am still a mother in their daily life—mothering, loving, worrying, and praying never stop—no matter how old they are. I am proud to be a late-in-life writer--journalist, freelancer, blogger, and magazine contributor. My work includes online and print magazines, including Modern Texas Living, Unread Magazine, Culture Trip, Everything Home Magazine, The Groove, The Outfitter, Victoria Lee Magazine, Holl and Lane Magazine, and Taylor Magazine. My (other) absolute favorite thing to write about is our ever-growing and evolving, small-urban town, Waco. I am thrilled to be part of Waco Moms and write about motherhood and Waco! I also write about life around me to enlighten, entertain, and make people think. If I make them smile, that's a bonus! You can read my blog at http://www.dedradaviswrites.com

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