I’m floored by the excitement and number of responses to the child’s garden giveaway! What lucky kids you all have. I wish you all the most amazing summers, remembering how magical gardens were when you were children and rediscovering that joy of discovery with your little ones!
These materials are free to use as you see fit – please just give me credit for the amount of time that went into this.
Here is the seed starting schedule and trellis directions.
Here is the Child’s Garden planting map. Pickle recipes will be available on my site in a new recipe map which I will create this spring.
Now that you have the materials you need to plan where do you start? You need a 4′ x 4′ bed with full sun exposure. That means at least 8 hours a day. The bed doesn’t need to be a raised bed like mine are, it just needs to be a dirt area amended with compost which you can buy or post on www.freecycle.org that you are seeking.
I want to show you an example of how simple your bed can be. I’m linking into Joe the Gardener who grew a $25 victory garden last summer. I don’t want you to think you can feed your family all summer for $25 because Joe had a huge network of folks who sent him seeds but I love how simple his plan for the garden is in terms of setting up the beds. He found lumber on freecycle, compost through the parks department (or it might have been a city program) and used bricks to build his path so that he wasn’t walking on garden soil. You can find free bricks on freecycle as well. Here is the link to his garden bed episode.
I don’t think you need to buy any fancy tools. A small hand shovel and a pair of gloves are the only tools I really use in my garden. I use an organic fish fertilizer monthly which I apply with a watering can and I compost.
If you are unsure of your soil you can contact your local master gardener program and inquire about local soil tests. Many areas provide them for free. If you are concerned about heavy metals you can mail a soil sample off the the University of Massachusetts and they have soil tests for $9 that include heavy metals.
In the areas where you will be growing carrots you want to make sure you dig the soil deeply and remove any rocks or branches. Carrots send down a central tap root and when it hits resistance it stops and begins to add girth. So in order to get nice long carrots you need nice soft soil for them. Everywhere else you can work down about 6 inches with a standard shovel, breaking up your soil and mixing in the compost. Once the soil is fluffed up you want to be careful not to walk on it. You may want to use some bricks to separate the garden sections and give your little helpers something to walk on when going into the garden area.
When you are planting you want to be sure and put the tallest things at the north end of the garden so they don’t shade shorter plants. The exception to this is lettuce which will want to bolt in the summer sun. I’ve solved that problem by having you plant the lettuce early in the spring and then trellising your cucumbers up in front of it to shade it. You can also interplant lettuce with the corn so that it’s shaded in that way.
Joe Gardener has a great veggie gardening 101 tutorial on his site that is simple but covers a lot.
That’s it! Please feel free to comment on how your gardens are going or if I’ve omitted anything or not explained something clearly. Happy gardening!