Sunday, December 16, 2007

Let's grow an indoor bulb garden!

Here in Arizona we can pretty much garden outside all winter long, but for many of you who are not in this region indoor gardening fun is your only option at this time of year. A fun project for you and your child is a quick and easy indoor bulb garden. These bulbs that I am going to talk about will grow perfectly well indoors with only water as the growing medium.

Here's a list of what you will need:

  • a shallow bowl (I prefer clear glass in order to see the roots grow)

  • clean decorative marbles or stones that are about 1/2 inch diameter

  • clean, fresh water

  • bulbs
Not just any bulbs grow most easily, however. The best bulbs to start out with on a project like this, especially for kids, are Amaryllis or Narcissus. You can see photos of each here.

Red Amaryllis

White Narcissus "paper whites"

Let's get started!
  1. Fill the bowl or dish 1/4 full with the decorative stones or marbles that you've chosen.
  2. Set the single Amaryllis bulb or the multiple Narcissus bulbs on top of the stones.
  3. Throw in the rest of your stones leaving about 1/2 of the top of the bulb showing.
  4. Pour in enough clean, fresh water to cover the tops of the stones.
  5. Place the container in a bright area of your house so that the plant doesn't get too leggy.
  6. Keep watch that the water is topped off every few days or so.
It's as simple as that! You should see flower tops blooming in about 6 weeks.

I hope you enjoy this fun indoor gardening activity that can be done throughout the winter. Your child will enjoy taking care of topping off the water and helping bring the beautiful flowers of these easy to grow bulbs to life.

Please send in any comments or photos of your completed projects and I'll include them on the blog.

I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday season, and all of us at Gooseberry Gardens wish you the best in the new year!

Happy Gardening!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Your child's first flower garden!

How exciting! You've built a wonderful customized bed just for your child, and now you can watch him or her grow and explore with it. Make sure it's filled with good organic soil or compost. As a general rule when picking out soil, the darker the better. Next step, planning your garden!

There are many types of garden themes you can go for. I will go through those in future posts. To start, let's just work with a basic flower garden that is sure to bring a lot of fun and laughter for your child.

Since we are in November, let's work with the best flowers for the season. If you are located in areas that are very cold at this time you will have to help your child start germinating seeds inside. A good way to do this is to buy a small seed germinating tray with a cover that fits on your table. Depending on how cold it gets (i.e. 6 ft tall snow banks) you may not be able to plant in the outdoor bed until it warms up a bit. If that's the case you can still plant a nice little window sill garden in the window of your home with the most sun. You may need to opt for herb seeds instead of flower seeds in this case as well, and make sure your pots are set on a tray of pebbles, marbles, or stones to keep humidity levels high. The next couple of posts will be talking about fun indoor growing projects like these, so keep checking back.

Now let's choose our flowers! Some great cool season flowers that will germinate easily from seed are:

Shirley poppies

Calendula Snapdragons Stock Larkspur

After your child has chosen the flowers he/she would like to grow, it's time to choose the spots to plant in their garden bed. Make sure their plot receives at least 6 hours of full sun especially during the cool seasons.

In order to help the little hands holding onto the little seeds you may want to preadhere the seeds in between small pieces of dampened toilet paper so that it's easier to grab. The toilet paper will degrade in no time and the seed will germinate properly.
Place the seeds directly on the soil surface and for bigger seeds like nasturtiums push them down about 1/4 of an inch. Cover all seeds with a sprinkle of soil, water them in, and watch them sprout within the coming days.

Soon your little one will have the most beautiful flower garden, and the best part is they did it themselves!

Check us out next week when we talk about a fun indoor project perfect for those living in the colder parts of the world!

Also, please send in any photos of your flower gardens and I'll post them on the blog! You can email to

Happy gardening!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Let's build a child's garden bed!

Well first things first. In order to start a garden for your little one, you've first got to lay the foundations. Building a garden bed can be very detailed or very simplistic. Either way is great fun, and will be customized to your child in no time anyway.

A simple structure can be a circle of large rocks, or even a bail of hay. Really anything that holds in your soil and keeps weeds and grass out can be your simple structure. In this post however, let's talk detailed. When I say detailed I mean grab the hammer, nails, a saw (unless the lumber yard cuts everything for you), 2 x 6 planks of redwood, 4 wooden corner blocks that are 1"x 1" and at least 6 inches in height, and a little bit of determination. Some of you may not have a second thought to this plan, and already see the finished product and how you got there from point A to point C. Then again, some of you may be thinking "Do we have a hammer?" For all you not so handy folks out there please rest assured, it is possible to get this done.

A good place to start is to notice how far your child can reach. If you have a 5 or 6 year old, they may only be able to easily reach about 6 to 10 inches. That gives you a good idea of how wide to make the bed. Will you have it right up against a wall, or will your child be able to walk all around it? If you are building it right up against a wall then I would make it only about 6 inches wide so that the whole space is accessible by your child. If, however, you are building it away from a wall so the child can walk around, then I would say build it 12 inches wide.

Now that you have an idea of the width, let's think about how long you would like to make the bed. Unless you expect the child to grow the family's veg for for the season, I'd say the smaller the better. I think this also depends on the age of your child. A 5 year old may only require a 1 foot x 1 foot plot while a 9 or 10 year old with years of experience under his belt may be able to handle a 3 foot x 1 foot plot.

Alright! Now you're cookin'! So we have the width and length figured out. The height will be 6 inches which is perfect for little munchkins. All that's left is to nail it all together.
Lay your 2 x 6 planks out the way that you would like the bed to go together. Grab your hammer, nails, and corner blocks. Fit the corner block into the corner of two planks and nail the planks onto the block for each corner. I like using the corner blocks because I feel it lends to a much sturdier bed. If you opt to not use the corner blocks, which is perfectly fine as well, then just nail the two ends of the planks together for each corner. You should have this part done in no time.

As soon as you have the bed built, try to place it on a piece of land that doesn't have any grass. If there is grass, you can layer the bottom of the bed with cardboard or black and white newspaper (don't use colored ads since they can leach out harsh chemicals). Finally, fill the bed with some quality organic planting soil or compost, and your child is in business!

Good luck, and please send on any photos of your completed beds! Check back for next week's activity!

Happy gardening!

Welcome to Gooseberry Gardens!

Hi Everyone!

I'm so excited to start this blog for Gooseberry Gardens. I'll be posting weekly on fun garden activities for all ages. In general the activities will be for kids and their parents, but honestly, I still enjoy building a good ol' fashioned bean pole tee-pee and I'm sure there are quite a few of you out there who know just what I mean.

So grab a cuppa, sit back and read on.

Happy gardening!