There are many benefits to growing in containers. You may not have the outdoor space for a garden, or maybe you prefer to keep your flower or vegetable beds for yourself. Weeding, watering, and harvesting is easier. And kids love having their own containers to plant and tend.
At KidsGardening, we are asked all the time how to get started gardening with kids. Our best advice is to start small, try container gardening, and plant something your child is interested in growing (or eating!).
I have two kids, ages 9 and 6, that love gardening, and we were lucky enough to try out the Gabrielle Bags, in both mini and regular sizes, for their new container gardens. We used both the “bright” and “deep” colorways. Both kids are into anything rainbow, so these bags were a huge hit.
Our first step was to visit the garden center. We decided to buy herb starts. Herbs are great to grow with kids because they engage the senses and are easy to grow in containers. Since we were planting our garden a little later in the season, and we live in an area with a short growing season, using starts rather than seeds was a good choice for us to make sure the kids could enjoy their herbs in cooking projects and fairy potions before our first frost.
The Gabrielle bags don’t come with drainage holes, so we drilled a few in the bottom of each bag. The kids mixed up the soil and took turns adding it to their containers. Their favorite job was to break up the root ball of the herbs before planting them.
One of the really neat things about the Gabrielle bags is that you can write on them with dry erase markers. This is fun for lots of different reasons, but it was great to label everything so the kids could remember what they planted where. They decided to name all of their plants.
Since we had some of our soil mixture left over, the kids decided to plant a few seeds, namely sunflowers and snap peas, both varieties designed for containers. They were really excited when they could harvest the snap peas! The sunflower was growing great but then was knocked over by a raccoon.
One of my favorite parts of having kids grow herbs is how proud they are when something they grew gets incorporated into a meal. “Can you please gather some of your basil for our pizza?” “Can Daddy use some of your rosemary for his loaf of bread?”
Overall, I am beyond pleased with how the Gabrielle bags worked out as a container garden for the kids. We had a very rainy summer, and I lost three of my own ornamental container plantings to container flooding, but the kids’ herb garden was in beautiful shape all summer.
More uses for Gabrielle bags
We love these containers, and used them for garden harvests all summer long! They are just the right size for kids to have their own container for picking blueberries or cherry tomatoes.
Using herbs with kids
Here are a few easy project ideas to help kids use the herbs in their new garden:
Fragrant sachets – These are small cloth bags filled with herbs and flowers that you can put in a drawer next to your clothes or hang in a closet to help make your clothes smell good. You can make bags with drawstrings so you can empty and refill them as the fragrance fades, or you can make little pillows by sewing together all of the edges of your sachet. For a strong, spicy fragrance, mix together dried leaves of basil, sage, lemon verbena, and thyme.
Herb butter – An easy cooking project with kids is to soften a stick of butter at room temperature, adding a tablespoon of fresh chopped herbs to it (with a bit of salt and pepper, perhaps), and mashing the ingredients together. Serve with bread.
Family Favorites – Ask your young gardeners to interview family members to discover which herbs they currently use for cooking and other uses, and which types were traditionally used by their ancestors.
Scent Safari – Pluck a few leaves of each herb and put them in a small paper bags. Crush the leaves a bit to release the aroma. Mark the bags on the bottom with the name of the herb. Have kids take a big sniff and have them describe the smell. Can they guess which herb it is?