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Best jobs for teens: teenager using a plastic shovel to clean their garden

How to maintain a family garden with a busy schedule

Check off multiple parenting wins in one with a family garden. Yes, it provides food, physical activity, bonding time, and problem-solving skills, but it also builds character. Family gardens create responsibility and can foster a lifelong appreciation for how we eat. Here’s how to build a family garden that works for your busy schedule and your budget.

Opt for a family container garden

Perfect for busy families or gardening beginners, container gardens are an easy way to start. They save space and give you the flexibility to move the containers as needed to make the most of sunlight. Plus, it's simpler to keep pests and diseases under control. It can be as simple as growing herbs in recycled take-out containers on a windowsill or having fresh tomatoes and strawberries come spring.

Choose low-maintenance plants

For a family garden to thrive, it should be fun and doable. Some plants are just easier to care for and require less time and attention. Your local garden center can help you pick out the best ones for your area. Try one of these 5 easy plants to start your family garden:

  1. Kale: This superfood is not only healthy but also incredibly low maintenance and can handle cooler weather.

  2. Mint: Perfect for tea, mint is a hardy perennial that can survive with minimal watering.

  3. Cherry tomatoes: Great for container gardening, these sweet, bite-sized snacks bloom throughout the summer.

  4. Cucumbers: Cukes are easy to grow, require minimal care, and can produce bountiful yields.

  5. Radishes: Plant these fast-growing veggies throughout the season for a continuous harvest.

Use mulch to slow water loss

Regardless of size, a successful family garden requires the right amount of water. Too much or too little and your plants are history. Mulch helps retain soil moisture so you don’t need to water as often. Plus, it gradually breaks down and adds nutrients to your soil. You can use it on small indoor pots, too!

Create a self-watering family garden setup

If you're short on time, self-watering systems provide a consistent water supply so you don't have to. While you can get irrigation kids, you can also try inexpensive solutions like wicking cords that act like straws connecting plants to a cup of water. Or, poke a hole in the lid of a water bottle and bury it a few inches into the soil. The water will drip out of the bottle slowly, keeping your plants hydrated. 

Add family gardening time to the calendar

To keep plants and family thriving, schedule garden time as a family. Even 15 minutes here and there can make a difference. And remember, it's not about having the perfect family garden; it's about growing and enjoying together.

For more tips on family, parenting, and kids, head to the Greenlight Learning Center.

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