One of the things that I miss as a renter is having my own garden and one of the most miraculous things your child can experience is how things grow, especially when it comes to their food. Children experience gardening with all of their senses. Have them smell the unique aroma of tomato leaves, let them feel the texture of the soil between their fingers, watch the plants grow and listen for the bees that come an pollinate your plants. Gardening is also good for getting your kids to eat their vegetables. There is pride in growing your own food and they will feel that pride as well as amazement. The other benefit is that your veggies will be organic and GMO-free.
Unfortunately, if you live in an apartment or rent, your options for creating your garden is limited or restricted. I circumvented this by growing food in pots on my patio.
You can grow almost any type of vegetable in pots and containers. I’ve even grown potatoes in recycling bins. There is nothing like harvesting fresh potatoes in the morning for cooking home fries.
Start with growing a few vegetables like organic onions and potatoes. I like to grow my own salad, so I will also use organic tomato, lettuce and cucumber seeds. I recommend using organic soil to grow your vegetables indoors and when you transfer them outdoors, adding organic manure to the larger pots.
Vegetables that are genetically modified (GMO) will not grow. Make sure that you are using organic vegetables. With potatoes, put some toothpicks in the side of the potato to keep it above the water line. If the potato has sprouted, make sure the eyes (sprouts) are pointing upwards. Add water to the cup and place it in a sunny window until it roots and grows leaves. You can grow sweet potatoes the same way.
For onions, examine it to find the root side and make sure the roots are in the water when you place it in the cup. Keep the cup filled with clean water until the roots touch the bottom of the cup. Then transplant it into a bigger pot.
When transferring plants to pots add organic manure. I also use self-watering pots so that I don’t forget and dry out my garden. Self-watering pots keeps the plants watered, especially when I take a two week vacation in the summer. You don’t have to use self-watering pots, just make sure that your pot has a hole in the bottom for drainage or add one. Your pot should be at least 12-inches deep for onions.
You can transplant your potatoes in an old garbage can or recycling bin. Fill the container half-way with a mixture of manure and soil. Add the seedlings. As the seedlings grow, add more soil until the can is filled to the brim. Check every 4-weeks for new potatoes in the soil.
Start with plastic cups. Put some small pebbles, or colorful aquarium gravel, in the bottom of the cup for drainage and then add soil. Fill to the rim, and push the seeds into the soil.
After a few weeks, at about 8 inches tall, transplant the seedlings into pots on your patio and keep them watered about once a week and 2-3 times per week on really hot days. For vine types of plants like tomatoes and cucumbers, use some kind of trellis or wire structure to support the vines so they can grow upwards. Here I used an old wire shelf that I took apart to support my plants.