Rainbow Garden

rainbow garden

My eight year old recently planted her first garden! She’s always been an enthusiastic helper in our family garden plot, but this time it’s all her design. It all started when I started pulling out some blue pansies to make way for some more summer-y plants in our backyard planters. She asked if she could have them for her very own garden. UM YES OF COURSE. She has been reading Gardening With Emma: A Kid-to-Kid Guide this spring, and I told her to look through it to get some ideas if she was interested in expanding her garden. And she landed on a rainbow garden! I can’t even tell you how perfect this is for her. Isn’t that what’s so great about gardening?!

It would have been great fun to take her to the garden center and let her choose the plants for her rainbow garden, but our area is asking kids to stay away from retail establishments as much as possible. So, armed with her list, off I went! I knew the most important thing was hitting all the colors of the rainbow. We ended up with red snapdragons, orange marigolds, yellow calendula, green gladiolas, the aforementioned blue pansies, purple basil, and some magenta flowers that I can’t remember.

rainbow garden
Princess Harriet Pepperbone

And she planted them all by herself! She learned a new vocabulary word (rootbound) and how to make sure plants could make the transition to their new home a little easier. (Interested in container gardening with kids? We’ve got great tips!)

We also planted some edibles of her choosing, including a lunch box pepper (which she named Princess Harriet Pepperbone after a character in her favorite book), the Chioggia beets she became enamored with from Emma’s book, nasturtium because she thinks they’re yummy, and her very own purple carrots.

Ambitious? Perhaps! It’s been about a week, and so far she’s been great about remembering to water. She loves playing with the hose, so that helps. She’ll be spending just about all summer in our backyard, so it’s great for her to have her own little territory. I'll be sure to check back in once the full rainbow is in bloom.

School Garden Plans, Adjusted

school garden plans

As the weather warms up here in Vermont, I’m grateful for the opportunity to get out into the Burlington School District gardens. This year, our school garden plans have changed. For the past few weeks I’ve been diligently working away at a long to-do list—installing drip irrigation, building trellises, hardening off starts from our greenhouse, etc.—in preparation for planting. While I think we could benefit from a bit of rain to moisten our dry soils, the nighttime temperatures are now high enough for our tomatoes, peppers, and other more sensitive plants to finally make their way outside.

I’m more excited for our big planting day than ever before. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Burlington School Food Project gardening team made the decision to amp up our production so that we can donate as much produce as possible to families in need during these unprecedented times. We didn’t expand our garden footprints, but we did practically double our production capacity by remaking in-ground beds and pathways narrower—instead of 12 rows in our Left Field garden, we now have 21!

With more plants in our garden, we’ll really have to stay on top of watering, weeding, pruning, and harvesting. While we’re up to the task, having some dedicated volunteers will help our growing season run smoothly. Many of our schools have received an outpouring of support from the community, with more folks offering to volunteer than ever before. In order to accommodate these volunteer requests we’ve established a series of protocols to encourage safe physically distant gardening:

  • A Safe Gardening Guidelines document, created by a local community garden organization, is being shared with all prospective volunteers and posted at all garden sites.
  • Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring their own tools, though schools will be providing sanitizing solutions so that tools and high touch surfaces (garden shed door handles, gates, water spigots, etc.) can be cleaned thoroughly.
  • Volunteers are encouraged to wear a mask, especially if others are present, though we’re hoping to limit person to person contact by creating schedules so that volunteers are either working in the garden alone (or with their family) or with one or two other individuals so that proper physical distancing can be maintained.

How is your school garden approaching the growing season? Are you planning on working with volunteers? Do you plan on donating any of your garden produce? Have you adjusted any of your garden plans given the current circumstances? We’d love to hear your creative solutions and approaches!

Mother’s Day

mothers day

As I was contemplating what to write today with Mother’s Day approaching, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and look through some of our old garden photos. The picture above is one of my favorites and taken in front of our community garden plot at the time. It was so nice to see the smiles and joy shining through. Our adventure with community gardening came to an end once my kids started elementary school and I became involved with our school’s garden program, but I hope some day we might give it a try again.

Got to be honest, the smiles have been few and far between around here lately. There have been a lot of Mom fails in our household the last couple months. Lots of nagging to get schoolwork done. Should it really take 3.5 hours to finish up 5 second-grade level word problems? It did at our house today. Plus more time on electronics while I try to juggle work at home with kids being home than I care to admit. I have been reminded over and over again that being the Mom is the hardest job out there.

And please know that when I say "being the Mom," I fully recognize this role is not a matter of biology. It is being that person who is in charge of nurturing and protecting those little people in your life who do not come with instructions, but really should. It is a responsibility that is critical in our world, but rarely comes with recognition or thanks (and you can’t call in sick either).

This Mother’s Day, Gardeners Supply has generously stepped in to not only support KidsGardening and the work we are doing right now to encourage families to get into the garden to work off some of that stress by spending some solid positive time together (and maybe even add some fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet too), but also they are helping us help you thank those special mother figures in your life with a gift card. Right now, with a donation of $50 or more to KidsGardening to support our mission, you can select a special honoree to receive a $50 Gardener’s Supply gift card. So with your donation, you help us get more kids in the garden to learn how to nurture and care for our planet while you also honor that person who taught you those same life lessons.

Learn more about how you can give the Gift of Gardening this Mother’s Day and Father's Day. Thank you for your support!