PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock
Danielle Hegedus
January 18, 2016

Even if you’re short on outdoor space, you can still have a great garden. Micro-gardens, such as growing in containers, are all the rage among urban dwellers with green thumbs (or aspiring  green thumbs). Not only can you grow a diverse amount of fresh produce, saving money and decreasing your food miles, but it’s also a great project to take on as a family.

“In an age of instant gratification, a garden is one of the few places children can learn patience and delayed gratification by watching and waiting for rewards,” says Anne Gibson, the writer and gardener behind TheMicroGardener.com.

Gardening also benefits your children’s health, their attitudes toward learning about and caring for the environment, and their connections to the community. Here are some strategies for creating a unique container with your family to foster a home environment that is peaceful, collaborative and fun.

Give Broken Or Discarded Items New Life As Planters

Turn discarded toys into upcycled garden containers.
Gardening In A Minute/Flickr

Do you have items that you love just sitting in storage: antique furniture, teacups or beloved childhood toys. Perhaps these items are in plain sight but not adding anything to the décor of your home. Give them new life by turning them into distinctive planters that reflect your family’s personal style.

If you enjoy working on art projects as a family, choose simple items like tin cans, mason jars or durable plastic bottles that would otherwise be headed for the recycling bin, and get creative with decorations. Try painting them with chalkboard paint so that you can clearly label herbs and other produce that you plan to harvest. With younger children it may be fun to turn planters into precious keepsakes by decorating with their handprints. If you have an array of small toys like stray Legos or leftover board-game pieces, consider gluing those items to your planter to create a colorful, kid-friendly mosaic.

Select Your Plants—And Your Theme

Theming your container garden can help in your plant selection and make gardening more fun for kids.
KaneJamison.com/Flickr

If your home has bright natural light, you can grow many plants indoors. Plant a combination of traditional house plants (philodendron, spider plant, croton), edibles (basil, cilantro, cherry tomatoes), succulents (zeezee plant, jade, flapjacks), and flowering plants (hibiscus, crown of thorns, oxalis) in containers with drainage holes that are deep enough for the plants to take root. Play with stones and miniature garden art to make a micro-garden in the truest sense.

Theming your container garden can pique your children’s interest in growing plants. If your child loves to craft, try planting carrots or beets that can be used as dyes or a flowering plant so that you can press the blooms. If pizza is your favorite family meal, plant a garden with ingredients like onions, oregano and peppers that can all be harvested and used for a homemade pizza night.

Give Every Family Member A Garden Role

Give children a gardening task, like harvesting, to keep them motivated.
michel bish/Flickr

Involve the entire family in the selection of plants, garden theme and in the creation of planters, but don’t let it stop there. This is a great opportunity for your child to develop responsibility with simple chores, such as watering, pruning and harvesting. Successfully caring for a plant and watching it thrive can also help boost your child’s confidence. Observing the life cycle of plants, from seedling to bearing fruit, is also a fantastic educational opportunity and way to cultivate an early interest in science.

For more ideas and inspiration, head to Modernize.



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