Fall is a great time in the garden with kids! The weather is much more comfortable and there is just so much to harvest! Fall gardening with kids means cleaning up, harvesting and planning ahead!
Cleaning Up Your Fall Garden With Kids:
With kids, we talk about putting the garden to bed. Mulch needs to be added and weeds turned over while exhausted plantings are moved to the compost. This is a good time to teach about pests and blights that you observe and plan ahead to avoid them next season. I also like to top up the pathways with mulch and generally clean up the garden before the busy of the next Spring is suddenly upon us.
There is a lot of garden and nature themed art that can come from working in the fall garden too! Collecting leaves, creating nature “selfies” and art in the style of Klaus Enrique Gerdes can be a fun way to explore the harvest and use up all those extra zucchinis! The multitude of seeds that have been collected, dried and saved can make for some beautiful works of art as well! Read how to make seed mandalas here.
This is the best part! If you haven’t already, it’s time to get the last of your tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes and beans out of the garden. There are plenty of greens ready to harvest now too. Kale, spinach and mesclun are plentiful this time of year. Of course, the best fall crops to harvest with kids are pumpkins and corn and any other squash you planted last Spring. In my outdoor classroom, harvesting sunflower seeds is incredibly popular. I’m happy to let kids pick away at them, knowing they are further developing their pincher grip and snacking on healthy seeds too! Brussell sprouts are also a popular fall crop to harvest. There’s something about the twist and snap that kids find super satisfying!
Areas with weeds can be strategically thwarted at this time of year. Make a plan over the winter to deal with areas that had nuisance weeds so they won’t have a chance to come back even stronger next year. That can mean laying out barrier fabric or cardboard and using the weedy area for a growing space. Don’t forget you can still plant on the Westcoast in the Fall. Now is the time to plant fava beans, more kale and lots of garlic! We also plant more greens like mesclun and spinach as well as broccoli, radishes and cabbages in our school garden in the fall. (Click each of those links for instructions on how to plant each crop!)
Always add organic material to your soil so there is something for the worms and other diversity of life to munch away on over the winter! Adding leaves from the school-yard makes the soil drain better and adds valuable nutrients to the hard-working soil. Plus, your soil will be super moist and ready-to-plant come spring!
And lastly, once we have collected and organized as many seeds as we can, we decorate paper coin envelopes and fill them with seeds to sell at the spring fair, or donate to other school gardening friends. Seeds we have saved from pollinating flowers, beans and peas, and all the other garden bounty are properly stored and organized to save us money and time this Spring!
Want more ideas for gardening with kids? Read my post on Pumpkin Math here and come join me on Pinterest!