While summer adventure in new places might be limited this year due to COVID-19, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little family fun in your own backyard. Gardening can be a great activity for practicing sustainability. It can help instill a sense of responsibility in your children and even save you a little money on groceries in the long run.
Gardening has grown in popularity with more families looking to grow their own food while spending more time together. If you’re considering adding one to your home, these options are eco-friendly, cost-efficient, and child-friendly.
Easy-start indoor gardens
If you’re just starting your gardening career, an indoor garden is a great place to start. With a small indoor garden, you have a better control of the temperature of your plants.
Canadian weather can be iffy and unpredictable at times, and an unexpected night of frost in the middle of June can destroy your garden in a matter of hours. But with an indoor garden, you’re able to grow vegetables like romaine lettuce, celery, and scallions in a short period of time.
But which gardens are easiest for new and young gardeners? Here are two options:
Gardens can be messy, and not everyone wants that mess indoors. If you want to have the experience of gardening as a family but you’re hoping to avoid a big mess every time you tend to it, then a hydroponic garden might be the solution for you.
Hydroponic gardens are soil-less, which means there’s no risk of spilling dirt all over the place and having to scrub your tile grout with a toothbrush. Instead of your traditional seed in the soil set-up, they use water and nutrients to grow plants to fruition.
While this might be the cleanest solution for home gardening, it’s not exactly cheap. A pre-built system can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 (or more) depending on the size of the setup. But if you’re looking to cut down on food costs long-term, this could be a good investment.
That said, if this is a fun activity that you want to try out with the family without the hefty investment, you should be able to put together your own DIY version with a few things you might already have at home. Just make sure you store it out of the way so it doesn’t accidentally cause a mess!
Succulent gardens come in many shapes and sizes, and while they aren’t built for growing fruits and vegetables, so they won’t cut down your grocery bill, they’re great for beginners.
You can make your succulent garden big or small, depending on the container you choose. Pick the right type of succulents for your soon-to-be garden, and make sure the container you use is able to drain, or bolster your drainage with rocks in the bottom of the container.
Indoor succulents are easy to take care of. Contrary to popular belief, they like lots of water so you’re unlikely to kill them by overwatering them—but you don’t want to water them every day. Instead, wait until the soil is dry so the roots can breathe. As an added bonus, succulents can help to both purify the air in your home and manage the humidity.
An afternoon with the family is all you need to put your succulent gardens together. If you’re feeling ambitious, get everyone to make their own. Then add watering and feeding them to your children’s chore list to help grow their sense of responsibility.
Easy-start outdoor gardens
If outside adventure is what you seek, albeit in the backyard, then an outdoor garden might be in your future. Beyond cutting down the mess inside your house and giving you the option of starting a larger project, outdoor gardens allow you and the family to spend some time enjoying the sun.
Outdoor gardens keep the messy dirt and spilled water outside, and so long as you and the kiddos are careful heading back inside, you can keep it there.
But what kind of outdoor garden should you start? There are two that are perfect for beginners to try out:
If you’re looking for an easy-to-manage outdoor garden, a container garden might be your best bet. Not only can you decide how big your garden will be judging by the container size you pick, but if you want it to get bigger, you can simply add more containers.
Container gardens are perfect for planting old scraps of vegetables to help cut down on your long-term grocery bill. Start with a collection of container-friendly vegetables, like peas, carrots, and cucumbers to help reduce how many you have to buy in-store.
For more sustainability, ditch the store-bought pots and opt for upcycling old containers. You can make a day out of prepping the containers by creating holes for drainage, and decorating your containers with the family—with the added benefits of increased family time and a more aesthetically pleasing garden.
Vertical gardens are a unique and fun way to organize your plants, and are perfect for homes that have limited space. It’s a method of gardening that sees plants positioned on a vertical structure that can be free standing or attached to a wall, one on top of the other, allowing you to have more plants in less space.
You can build a vertical garden outside or inside, and they’re a perfect fit for those with a smaller patio space (like in an apartment building) who want to do some fresh air gardening. You can even build one using old hanging baskets and wooden stands for a more sustainable setup.
Your vertical garden can be hydroponic or built with a traditional soil set-up as long as you set up proper drainage. And you can grow flowers or fruits and vegetables; you’ll just need to make sure that you fit the correct type of plant with the right size of container.
Vertical gardens that are grown indoors can both help reduce ambient temperatures since the plants can absorb the light (that’s one way to cut down your air conditioning bill), and filter pollutants out of the air. Outdoors they can spice up your patio or balcony, and are a great choice for plants that need more direct sunlight.
Why start a family garden?
Gardening is a fantastic way to bond with the family over summer. Not only can it help you cut down on your grocery bill (specifically if you’re growing fruits and vegetables) but it’s a great way to add some outdoor chores to your children’s lists.
If you’re looking for more ways to start your family’s adventure towards more sustainable living, download the GarbageDay app to get new tips and guides delivered right to you.