How to Garden with a Small Yard and a Small Budget

It sounds so picturesque — planting a garden with your kids, showing them how to grow their veggies and harvest it together.

Except for one reason or another, it just doesn’t happen. And then suddenly it’s July.

Don’t worry: It’s never too late to find something to plant — and it doesn’t matter how much time or space you have!

We are all about simple and affordable here, of course, and we’ve got 7 hacks to get you started on that garden with your kiddos.

  1. Start with Mason jars.

Win your child’s attention by setting them up for quick and early success. If you start with growing projects in a Mason jar, they will see almost instant results.

A front row seat for the germination process of various seeds is a great first step toward cultivating a sense of curiosity and wonder for how living plants begin.

  1. Save your avocado pit.

Rescue that avocado pit when you make guacamole. A few toothpicks gently inserted will suspend the bottom of the seed in a Mason jar filled with clean water and roots will emerge within a couple of weeks followed by leaves which will emerge from the top of the seed.

Periodically change the water to keep it fresh and watch your avocado tree grow from both the top and bottom.

Once the stem reaches about 6 inches, trimming it to about three inches will encourage strong root development and a bushier, more interesting plant. An avocado can take 5-8 years to mature and bear fruit if potted in soil, but it can continue to thrive and provide visual interest in that Mason jar for a very long time.

  1. Grow your own sweet potato plant — from a sweet potato!

Treat your sweet potato the same as your avocado. Using toothpicks, suspend it in water in a Mason Jar. A small potato is all that is necessary. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better here. Make sure that at least one of the “eyes” is submerged and watch the roots and shoots begin to emerge.

A sweet potato produces beautiful foliage and can be quite dramatic, producing long, creeping vines and large, beautiful heart-shaped leaves. Transplant it to a hanging basket and watch it take off!

  1. Cut off the top of your next pineapple and grow your own pineapple.

Believe it or not, if you cut the top off your next pineapple purchased at the grocery, you can mount it on a water-filled Mason jar (just like the avocado and sweet potato) with toothpicks.

The top will produce roots in the water and over time, will send out new leaf shoots, producing a beautiful plant that can be kept growing in the water or can be transplanted to a pot with soil.

And yes, if well cared for, it WILL eventually produce a small, new pineapple!

  1. Replant your vegetable scraps and watch them grow.

Most people don’t realize that common vegetables can be regrown from the scraps we typically throw away in the kitchen. Not only do they grow back, but they grow FAST.

Your kids will be checking on their plants regularly to see the exciting progress.

Celery, lettuce, cabbage, onions, lemongrass, and ginger can all be grown from discarded cores, stems, and base parts of the plant that are not typically eaten.

Simply place the piece in a shallow dish with a bit of water. Keep an eye on it and add a little water each day or two to maintain moisture. You will see new growth almost instantly and the new plant will be ready for transplant into your garden within a couple of weeks. 

  1. Don’t let the shade stop you.

While most vegetables and herbs need lots of sun, there are a plenty that can tolerate some shade. Try starting some beets, cilantro, kale, lettuce and parsley.

They grow relatively quickly from seed and while they do need some direct sunlight each day, they actually appreciate the respite a shady spot provides from the heat of the mid-summer sun. Grow them in pots that can be moved around to get sun and then shade.

When Fall arrives, you’ll be surprised with an encouraging resurgence of new growth if you keep them watered through the hot months.

  1. Add some WOW factor by planting elephant ears.

Pick them up either as a bulb or already sprouted in a pot at your local nursery. Just find a spot with part sun part shade and watch a few of them go!

Elephant ears are easily one of the showiest plants and will dazzle your kids with their giant, elephant ear-shaped leaves. Some leaves can grow to be as big as they are!

There is still plenty of time to create garden magic for your children, even in mid-summer, and even if you have a limited budget and limited outdoor space! Don’t try to do it all.

Choose a few of these ideas, get out there, enjoy this time with your kids and make it happen!

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Girl in garden holding bunch of recently harvested carrots

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