Default Style Register Forum
Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>Garden Disaster!!
KnoxMom 08:52 AM 06-18-2013
So... I'm adding a vegetable garden center to the outdoor classroom. As of right now I simply have one 2' x 6' raised garden bed (with 3 dividers). One section has tomatoes (fried green tomatoes, anyone? ) but I wasn't sure what to do with the others so I left them empty. In the short time since adding soil and fertilizer I can't for the life of me figure out how weeds have ALREADY run rampant in the center section?? Last weekend, I (thought) I dug them up, and sprayed as much as I could but I don't want so many chemicals around that I'm scared for us to eat the veggies! This weekend, I go back out to check on it and it seems like there are more than before! Arghh! Okay, so some of this was just venting; but seriously, a couple of questions:

1) What products do you use in your gardens?
2) How do you let the kids help/play without tearing things up?
3) What do you plant???
4) How much has your garden helped with grocery costs? (I'm aiming for produce sustainability within 2 years if possible)
NeedaVaca 09:22 AM 06-18-2013
I have a garden but not for daycare so kids aren't playing with it. I plant and then put down a bunch of hay to keep weeds from growing, I don't use chemicals. I do use preen in my flower garden.

I share garden items with other people and we all plant different things. I get enough green beans, tomatoes, tomato juice, sweet corn, peppers & strawberry jam to last a year. I also have an herb garden and I dry it for the winter. Every once in a while I freeze shredded zucchini for bread. All the other stuff I plant we eat during the summer: cucumbers, carrots, snap peas, radishes, new potatoes.
VTMom 09:58 AM 06-18-2013
1) I don't use chemicals, but I'll use compost for fertilizer and hand weed. You can also teach the kids which are weeds and which are vegetables and employ them! My kids last summer were expert cucumber beetle hunters!

2) You could make garden stepping stones with the kids. Cool project + use them as a walk path to keep the kids away from the plants.

3) I plant a bunch of stuff, but carrots, green beans and snow peas are the kids favorites!

4) I'm not sure what the financial impact is. I think it's important for the kids though. I have a few that don't get fresh produce regularly at home, so it's important to me to have them know where they come from and that they have free access. If you're looking for money savers, maybe plant things that you'd be likely to freeze or can?

Good luck! I love gardening and frequently walk through with my toddlers and preschoolers to see how each plant is doing. They're good at recognizing which plant is which! Have fun!
daycarediva 10:04 AM 06-18-2013
I only square foot garden with raised bed planters. I have my own (um, actually 4 16sf beds) , and the kids have theirs. I put plywood on the bottom, and drill drainage holes. Before I fill it for the season, I line it with newspaper and then spray that with a hose (helps prevent weeds. I use a compost/vermiculite/peat moss mixture in equal parts. Now I just have to add new compost to it annually.

I only get weeds in late spring from flying seeds. (cottonwood, dandelion and my maple tree are the worst offenders)

Tomato leaves are poisonous, my tomato plants are gated off away from the kids and my cats.

The kids have: cucumber, zucchini, pole beans, and carrots in their garden. We ate the cucumbers from the garden for lunch yesterday.

Next year I will be adding flower gardens for them as well.
Willow 10:05 AM 06-18-2013
1) What products do you use in your gardens?

Dirt and hard work

We do like NV and sweep the lawn or use hay to cut down on weed growth but they still occasionally do grow and we do still get down on hands and knees to pull them up about once a week or so.

Wind carries most weed "seeds" so that's why you continue to find them even in raised beds. Did you lay down any barrier on the bottom of the bed before adding the dirt and planting? Depending on how deep your soil is they could be coming up from below also if you didn't put down any sort of fabric or paper lining.

We don't do any chemicals aside from fertilizing the corn a time or two a year. I keep the kids out until it's rained or been watered several times afterward.

2) How do you let the kids help/play without tearing things up?

I only let those old enough with good enough listening skills in the garden. I have a pot up by my front door filled with flowers and that's been a pretty good gauge. If they can help me with watering and refrain from picking the flowers to death then they're probably ready to join me in some fun in the big garden.

3) What do you plant???

This year:
Onions, green beans, yellow beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes (bigs, cherries and pear), peppers, eggplant, cucumber (bigs and smalls pickling) pumpkin, watermelon, buttercup squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini and loooooads of corn.....ones already in there that come back each year: asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

It's huge, but I've never actually measured.....maybe 75' x 50'?

4) How much has your garden helped with grocery costs? (I'm aiming for produce sustainability within 2 years if possible)

Although our garden is giant, my daycare is small by most peoples standards, and we can and freeze quite a bit there is no way I could reach sustainability with what we have. Makes quite a dent for our family of four though and I like that it's all organic.

Two years is definitely not a long enough time frame either. When talking about those that come back many crops take several years just to produce anything edible at all. Much of it depends on your soil and weather also. Last year despite all of our hard work we got so very little back because we were in such a drought. Our soil is naturally very sandy so no amount of watering could keep up with what was lost everyday.

Not sure if you're licensed but if you are check if your tomatoes are ok to have around your daycare kids. The leaves of tomato plants are poisonous if consumed and although my licensor looks the other way there are some who will fine you or worse (heard of someone here that got in trouble for just having them potted on her back deck).

The kids old enough to participate LOVE to get in there and get dirty, and the looks on their faces when they get to take a bowl out and collect a bunch of whatever is awesome. Most kids that come have no idea where their fruit and veg *actually* come from, so it's cool when they get to see the seed, put it in the dirt, care for it and eventually pick a cucumber we can take inside and cut up for lunch to eat
Tags:garden, gardening, grocery, produce
Reply Up