Outside: Child Friendly Gardening Part II

Archer and Fable + caterpillar beside raised beds in the garden

The following was written by my Nana - a follow-up post to the one I posted several months ago re: child-friendly gardening. Archer and Fable make cameos in some of the videos (Archer co-stars in "Cold Crop Broccoli" and Fable flexes her pixie power in "fava beans" & "Amending Soil") which were filmed last fall. (Before pictures of our garden newly planted are here. After pictures are at the bottom of the post.) We've had a bountiful harvest, we have. All because Nana planted everything for me hooked up the knowledge! Take it away, Nana! - GGC


With the help of my great-grandchildren, Archer and Fable I’ve made a few videos to explain about soil-preparation and cool-season crops. I couldn’t believe how well Fable understood how to stick the fava beans into the ground without any instruction whatsoever. She just naturally caught on. Must be genetic. These videos were made last autumn, the best time for planting cool-season crops here in Southern California where we garden year-round. At this time of year (winter) we who live here are now harvesting the cool-season crops we planted last September or October and meanwhile we’re thinking ahead to what we will plant in spring. In coastal zones, where the weather is mild, we begin planting warm-season crops as early as March, though we wait until April or May to plant the real warm-weather lovers.

If you live in a cold-winter climate, on the other hand, you can plant cool-season crops in earliest spring, as soon as all danger of frost has passed. Some of these plants, such as kale and Brussels sprouts for example, can even take a little frost and be none the worse for it, and you may be able to protect other more tender things from frost by covering them at night. No matter where you live, you will want to prepare the soil before planting by digging it up and working in organic soil amendment and fertilizer. At least two of the videos we made cover this subject, and soil preparation is important regardless of where you live.

Each vegetable we grow has certain months that are optimum for planting and these dates vary from state to state, and often from region to region within states. The University Extension in each locality throughout the USA has created lists of the vegetables and charts that tell you when to plant them. So in order to find out when to plant a specific vegetable in your region, just go online and find the lists that apply to your state or region or alternatively, phone your nearest University Extension and ask for a handout.

Basically, however, the best-known cool-season or “winter” crops (plants needing cool temperatures) are these: Artichoke, asparagus, beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, collards, fava beans, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, onion, pea, potato, radish, rhubarb, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip.

The best-known warm-season or summer crops (plants needing warm weather) are lima beans, snap beans (both pole and bush beans), beet, carrot, chayote, corn, cucumber, eggplant, melon, New Zealand spinach, pepper, pumpkin, radish, summer squash, winter squash, sweet potato, Swiss chard, tomato, turnip, and yam.

Notice that beets, carrots, radish, Swiss chard, and turnips are on both lists since in most areas they can be planted in any month in which vegetables can be planted outdoors. Another interesting fact is that broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi are all known members of the cabbage family, known as the cole crops since they all came from the same wild, leafy Mediterranean plant and then they mutated into all these different shapes as they were cultivated by human beings.

You can plant cole crops from seeds or from plants but it’s easiest to plant them from transplants. Most herbs can be planted in early spring but basil needs warm weather. Always plant vegetables at the correct distance between plants that is given on the tag or on the seed package. If it says to thin them be sure to do so.

Use a pen to mark a hoe or a trowel with the correct distances to make it easy to space plants. Put a collar on cole plants to stop cutworms and if you can get it, use humic acid (which comes from leonardite) as a planting fluid. Don’t use Vitamin B. It does nothing at all but leonardite is a mineral that’s like an ancient compost pile. It makes your plants grow huge roots. Fertilize and water your plants and you will get a great harvest.
cute lil' cauliflower
sugar snap peas (we pick about twenty of these suckers a day!)
fava beans
more fava beans
swiss chard (and parsley)
broccoli (leaves), parsley, cilantro, bunching onions

Good luck with your garden!

Love from Archer and Fable’s great grandmother, Rebecca’s Nana and WWW's mama,



Marisa | 10:04 AM

I love this! Am thinking of attempting to garden with my toddler this spring. We'll see how it goes :-)

comicshopgrl | 10:31 AM

I would love to do more gardening but sadly I live in a city. I have long planters out back built into my deck but they are only 1.5 inches deep. I can't even grow morning glories in them. I'll try more container gardening this year. Any suggestions for what I could plant in pots in a limited space?

Paula/adhocmom | 11:13 AM

That is so cute. I'm leaving NYC and moving to a house with an actual yard. We're hoping to try gardening of some type. I'm 100% totally clueless, so I'll watch this again - like 500 times.

Tara | 12:59 PM

I love this post! As a novice gardener I am hoping to expand my skills (and harvest) this year! I just can't wait until all of the risk of frost is gone and I can begin to plant.

Allie Rose | 1:33 PM

Epic. I love Pat Welsh.

Melissa | 2:00 PM

I......LOVE HER!!!! My husband is building my raised garden beds next week so this post has me even more excited to dabble in gardening.

I seriously would like to hug your Nana.

Amanda | 2:10 PM

I have no intentions of starting a garden any time soon (well, save for a teeny one, as we're teeny tiny apartment dwellers at the moment) but I found myself watching all of these. She's so cute!!

verdemama | 2:33 PM

Your gma is adorable and really knows her stuff! My almost-two-year-old son loves to help in our backyard garden, too. It's so much fun to do with kids... it's magical to watch a seed they planted grow or to dig up buried treasures like potatoes or beets.

Khon Kaen Traveler | 4:10 PM

Archer and Fable's cameos were adorable! If I ever have a home with a garden (which will be never! because medical school is LONG and EXPENSIVE! ahhh!) I am taking your grandmother's advice for everything! I am so impressed with how active she is!

mathilda Dunn | 6:49 PM

I love this so much! And, hello, could your nana be ANY cuter?

My Bottle's Up! | 4:24 PM

oh, i am envious! i don't want to be... but i am. what precious memories. i so wish jackson could've met his great-grandparents and experienced such wisdom from them... whether working in a garden or painting a shed.

this is so special.

Chantelle {fat mum slim} | 9:48 PM

I can't wait to grow up {giggle} and have a garden. We have a small one in our courtyard, and we've tried to turn into various things... failing them all.

One day. x

Anonymous | 9:00 AM

holy julia childs in the garden! your grandmother is amazing and gorgeous! i couldn't stop looking at her beautiful skin! so excited to get started on my own garden with all this help. thank you!!!

Lil Muse Lily | 11:27 AM

wow, what a great garden you have! envious.
i want a garden....