The Things Kids Ask About Gardening

Kids often ask questions. When the kids ask questions about gardening, have answers for them. Here are some common (and perhaps not so common) questions about beginning a garden and some thoughts on the question.

What is composting?

Some kids regret they asked this question. Compost is a pile of rotting material used to amend, or add to the garden soil. Some kids, of course, love this definition. Some won't even want to touch the compost. It's okay. But get the kids to realize that there is much more to compost.

A compost heap benefits not only the garden, it can benefit nature. Sometimes worms are added to a compost heap to help continue the breakdown of material. There is something about worms that attracts kids.

Compost can actually speed up and increase the production of a vegetable garden. If it grows faster, then kids are more likely to take notice.

What's the difference between soil and dirt?

There isn't much difference, but some gardeners will tell you they'd much rather call it soil. Kids use these two terms interchangeably for the most part.

Soil consists of layers. The very top layer is made of organic material, or natural material. It is made of decomposing material that adds nutrients and moisture retention ability to the soil. The next layer is the topsoil, or the layer that plants' roots are in. It is also made of organic material from the top layer and some bits and pieces of minerals such as pebbles. These pebbles are good for roots because it helps anchor, or pin down the roots, to keep them from being blown over in heavy rain or high winds.

How much watering do I have to do?

You will have to do as much watering as necessary to meet the demands of the plants. The demand of the plants depends on the type of plant and the climate you are in. If the area you live in receives lots of rain, then you won't have to water as much. But weather can change in any given season, so watering amount will also vary. Expect to water more in summer when the weather is hotter in most places. Also expect to water about an inch each week for most plants.

A good bet is to stick your finger at least an inch deep in the soil beside the plants. If it is damp still, then you won't need to water. If it is dry, you'd better get the hose out.

Why do I have to plant so many seeds?

Seeds are a wonderful, perfect little package. Or at least close to perfect. But things do happen to them. Animals such as birds and insects eat seeds. The seeds get too much or too little water. Some seeds can be blown away in high winds if they are not protected.

Plants produce more than enough seeds in the wild because they "know" that the more there are, the more likely the seeds will grow into new plants. Planting more seeds than necessary ensures that you will have a sufficient number of plants.

How long will it take for them to grow?

How long it takes for plants to grow depends on the type of plant. But most take quite some time. The quickest vegetables, such as radishes and lettuce, can take as little as one month to grow. But there are some vegetables and fruit like pumpkins, melons and carrots that can take two to three months to fully mature and grow fruit.

Why does it take so long to grow?

Just like a human child takes many, many years to grow, it takes seeds a long time to grow into full plants. Why? Plants aren't as complicated as some other creatures, but they are a living creature nonetheless. They need time to grow and fully mature. It takes a lot of energy, food or otherwise, to form the fruits, flowers or other parts of the plant. Eventually, they will grow and mature. Patience is necessary when waiting on a growing plant.

What's the difference between a shovel, trowel and spade?

The main difference is size. A shovel has a much bigger handle and end. It is mainly used to dig soil up and to plant larger plants such as bushes, shrubs and even trees. A trowel is a smaller version and can come in many shapes. It is commonly used to plant or transplant other smaller plants such as tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. A spade is like a shovel but it has a flat scoop instead of a rounded scoop. It is used similarly to a shovel.

Quite a Few Questions

Kids have quite a few questions when they first start out gardening. Answering these questions can sometimes be easy, sometimes be a little harder. Do some research and be honest. If you don't know the answers, you will either learn them by hands-on experience or by asking the same questions to those who are more experienced than you. Don't be afraid to have the kids explore all the aspects of gardening, even the ones they don't understand at first.

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