Ultimate Guide to Gardening Fun With Kids

If you have been around the blog for a while, you may have noticed that come spring time I love to talk gardening. Today I am bringing you what I am calling the Ultimate Guide to Gardening Fun With Kids. Oh, and a great giveaway at the bottom.

You’ll notice a couple things about this ultimate guide. One, it’s not overly complicated. Two, it’s not overly lengthy.

Why? Because I believe the more you complicate a matter, the less likely it is to actually be accomplished. So let’s just get to it!

Ultimate Guide to Gardening With Kids at Vicki-Arnold.com

Ultimate Guide to Gardening Fun With Kids

Just to reiterate, I like to keep things simple. So I broke this down into general tips, specific tips, crafts and activities if you are not ready for actual gardening yet, and finally, some resources for teens and adults because learning isn’t just for kids.

General Tips to Get Started

  • Don’t overthink it and don’t let it intimidate you if you have never gardened before.
  • Start small. Pick a small patch of ground or try a few containers. It is much better on your psyche to do small well than to flop because you went too big. Trust me.
  • Gather supplies. Get your containers and dirt, or some tools and compost for your ground plot, your plants and/or seeds, and start working your soil.
  • Choose some easy plants to get started.
  • Don’t forget to check your plants daily. You want to check to see if they are getting enough sun, if they need water, if there are pests that need handled, and if there are any weeds that need dealt with.

Here is another post from a fellow Kid Blogger Network blogger that has her 5 Tips for Gardening With Kids. And another KBN blogger has a review of a super cute gardening tote and tool set.

Specific Ideas for Gardening with Kids

Garden Themed Crafts & Activities

If you have a while before you can do your chosen gardening activity, warm your kids up to the idea with some garden themed crafts and activities.

Gardening Resources for Teens & Adults

Ultimate Guide to Gardening With Kids at Vicki-Arnold.com

Kid Blogger Network Giveaway

Win one of THREE $500 cash prizes directly in your paypal account! This giveaway is open internationally. You must be 18+ years old to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please see detailed terms and conditions below the giveaway for more info.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kid Blogger Network Spring Activities

The Kid Blogger Network is full of blogs dedicated to kids. We have a very wide range of what that means, too. There are blogs with activities for kids, blogs about parenting kids, blogs about teaching kids (homeschool and in a classroom setting), and more. Check out all their spring round up posts for this event below!

Gardening Posts I’ve Written Elsewhere

Spring time means garden time around here and that means gardening posts. Every year we jump into our garden planning hopeful that this year will be better than last. Eternal garden optimists.

As I was doing research for an upcoming post, I realized I had several garden-related posts on various blogs that I never got around to sharing with you, my awesome readers!

Gardening Posts - Herbs, Books, Beginners, & Kids at Simply Vicki

Today, I am remedying this. In no particular order, here are gardening posts I’ve written elsewhere on the internet.

Gardening Posts I’ve Written Elsewhere

G is for Gardening - ABCs of Home Schooling at My Joy-Filled Life - Ways to use gardening in your homeschool.

G is for Gardening – I wrote this post for My Joy-Filled Life’s ABCs of Home Schooling. I shared six ways to use gardening in your homeschool.

Gardens Kids Can Grow - a guest post at ALLterNATIVE Learning

Gardens Kids Can Grow – This post was for ALLterNATIVE Learning’s Earth Day series. I shared ideas for gardening with kids from preschoolers to teenagers.

How to Get Started Gardening With Kids - Intoxicated on Life

How to Get Started Gardening With Kids – I was a contributor over at Intoxicated On Life last year and I quite enjoyed it. I wrote each month on gardening and garden related topics. The next several posts came from that time.

Gardening for Better Health for Beginners on Intoxicated on Life

Gardening for Better Health for Beginners – One of my first gardening posts over at Intoxicated On Life. I covered a handful of reasons gardening is good for your health and some easy tips to get started.

Herb Gardening for Beginners on Intoxicated On Life

Herb Gardening for Beginners – One of my favorite graphics, even though I recently realized it’s technically a flower and not an herb. I won’t tell if you don’t. Also, the article has helps for those wanting to grow herbs.

23 DIY Projects for Gardeners on Intoxicated on Life

23 DIY Projects for Gardeners – A list of projects in these categories: supplies, beds and containers, season extenders, equipment and tools, and decor.

Books About Gardening to Read at Intoxicated On Life

Books About Gardening to Read This Winter – Actually, you can read these any time of the year. This post was just written in winter.

And there you have it, a list of gardening posts I’ve written elsewhere in the blogosphere. I hope you find one that blesses your gardening endeavors this spring!

Gardening Posts

If you are new around here, be sure to check out my other gardening posts. If you are new to gardening, start with my Beginner’s Guide to Gardening posts.

12 Books About Gardening for Kids

12 Books About Gardening For Kids on Vicki-Arnold.com

Gardening is kind of a big deal around here. We work to make it work every year. Our kids are getting older and are more of a help with the maintenance a garden requires. They actually love to water the plants and work along side us…usually.

This week for our alphabet activities, we read books about gardening. I’m going to share the picture books and kids’ nonfiction books here. If you are interested in books for teens and adults, check out my post over at The Library Adventure – 11 Gardening Books for Beginner to Advanced Gardeners.

If you’d like to dive a little deeper into this, check out my friend Tara’s Garden unit study.

Garden Picture Books

  • Vegetable Garden by Douglas Florian (Easy Florian) – Simple text with bright, bold illustrations.
  • One Potato: A Counting Book of Potato Prints by Diana Pomeroy (Easy Pomeroy) – This book has quite the country feel to it. There is a section in the back telling you how to do your own potato prints.
  • Our Community Garden by Barbar Pollak (Easy Pollak) – I like how this book makes the connection between the plants in the garden with actual meals kids eat.
  • The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen (Easy Larsen) – Lovely illustrations in this story about a girl and her grandfather.
  • Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld (Easy Zoehfeld) – There is a lot of info snuck in this fun book about a girl and her family’s garden.
  • The Gardener by Sarah Stewart (Easy Stewart) – Lydia Grace moves to the city to live with her uncle and help in his bakery, but she dreams of gardens and works to make that dream a reality in the dreary city. Told in letters from Lydia Grace to various family members.

Gardening Nonfiction Books for Kids


Why Should I Bother With a Garden? – 5 Quick Reasons

Why Should I Bother With a Garden? 5 Quick Reasons to Grow a Garden on Vicki-Arnold.com

Maybe I should have started the Beginner’s Guide to Gardening series with this post. I’ve written some form of this post no less than three times in various places so I sometimes forget that I may have not written it here. Forgive me? Thanks, you’re the best.

We’ve been gardening for years and the romanticism of gardening has worn off. We know the hard work that is involved with a large garden. Our garden space is currently 48’x56′ for a total of 2,688 square feet of garden space. I’ll give you a tour of it sometime this summer when it is teeming with life, but it pretty much looks like this last photo.

We have our trials each year, but we always remain optimistic about the new growing season. Every spring finds us talking about our gardening plans, what we’ll do differently and what we did well last year. We’ve moved beyond romanticism to this is just what we do.

We garden.

Why should you join us? Well, I’m glad you asked that because I’m going to tell you.

1. Fresh from the garden food is the best.

It doesn’t matter if you buy organic everything, picking food directly from your garden is still better. Why? Because you will let your produce ripen before picking it. Commercial growers do not have that luxury because fully ripened fruit does not travel well.

2. It’s good for your health.

Gardening is good for your health. You have to spend time outside daily, which means your body has the chance to produce vitamin D. You have to bend, stretch, and walk to garden, which means you get exercise ranging from light to moderate.

Then there is the food. The food is better for you.

3. You will save money.

I am going to share more in depth on this in another post, but I can tell you this, you will save money. It is my absolute best money saving tip, which you should read. It doesn’t just save on food costs.

4. Growing your own food brings food security.

Did you know that the US average for households experiencing food insecurity is 14.7%? Gardening often brings an abundant harvest, you can preserve this harvest for your family to eat throughout the year.

You can also make a difference in your community by donating extra garden produce (or say 10% of your harvest?) to your local food pantries and homeless shelters.

5. It’s satisfying.

It can be fun at times, but more than that, growing your own food brings a satisfaction that you can’t understand until you experience it. And when you preserve your harvest through canning, freezing, dehydrating, or proper storage, you experience the satisfaction all year long.

Knowing you can take care of yourself is empowering.

Where Should I Plant My First Garden? – A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

Where Should I Plant My Garden? (A Beginner's Guide to Gardening) from Vicki-Arnold.com

The next installment in our Beginner’s Guide to Gardening series is to answer the question “Where should I plant my first garden?

Now, I obviously do not know where each and every one of your live, that would be overwhelming…and a bit creepy. So I can’t give you exact instructions, but I can tell you what to look for when planning where to put your garden.

What a Garden Needs

Gardens need good soil, fresh water, and lots of sunshine. Let’s look at these a little more closely.

Good Soil

Soil is what will feed your plants. The roots of the plants absorb the nutrients and water in the soil. If your soil has no nutrients, your plants will struggle. Good, nutrient-dense soil is darker in color and is kind of “fluffy,” meaning it isn’t compacted like cement. You can improve your soil by adding in compost, aged manure, and/or trace minerals (like kelp). Avoid chemical fertilizers.

You do not want to plant your garden in an area where you have standing water, that is an indicator that the soil does not drain well there. Soil that is compacted and does not drain well can be amended by working in sand and compost, if there are no better options.

Fresh Water

Plants need water or they shrivel up and die. It’s that simple. The best water for your garden is the stuff that falls from the sky. When that is sparse, you need to get water to your plants. Water is heavy, so keep in mind you don’t want to be hauling buckets of water long distances in the case of a drought.


Plants need sunshine for a sweet little process called photosynthesis. It’s how they create the fuel they need to grow fruits and vegetables. Most garden plants need 6-8 hours of sunshine each day. So put your garden in the sunniest spot of your yard.

Types of Gardens

Not all gardens are grown in the ground. There are many types of containers that you can grow your garden in, too. Here’s a run-down of some options:

  • Traditional in the ground garden. These can be planted anywhere you can dig the soil.
  • Raised bed gardens. If at all possible, I recommend this over a traditional garden. It makes it much easier to cultivate the soil, improve drainage, and keeps you from compacting the soil by walking around the plants.
  • Container gardens. This can be as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be. A windowsill herb garden in your kitchen is a container garden. A strawberry pot on your front porch is a container garden.
  • Vertical gardens. These are really a variation of a container garden. Instead of sitting on the floor, these gardens go up. Some hang planters on walls or even create a wall of plants.
  • Hydroponic gardens. Plants are grown in a special water solution instead of soil.

I Have No Proper Garden Space, Now What?

First, think outside the ground. Is there a windowsill that gets a lot of sunshine? You could grow some herbs and salad greens there. Try getting creative. Pinterest has lots of visual inspiration for different types of gardens, try browsing there and see what you can come up with.

If you truly have no proper space, then you will have to be more creative. Do you have a neighbor or relative nearby that would let you use some of their yard for a garden in exchange for some fresh veggies? Is there a community garden space available to you?

If you want to grow fresh vegetables, find a way to do it. You will love the rewards you will harvest.

Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Gardening & Homesteading on Pinterest.

Clip art from Collective Creation.

What Should I Plant in My First Garden? – A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

I get a decent amount of questions about gardening. Unfortunately, I do not have time to answer everyone’s emails individually. I got to thinking about this. One of the reasons I blog is because I want to be helpful. So over the next few weeks, I’m going to run a series called A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening where I will answer some of the common questions about gardening I receive in my email box.

Speaking of which, if you happen to have any suggestions or questions you would like me to cover, shoot me an email through the contact page. It doesn’t have to be about gardening either.

What Should I Plant in My First Garden? (A Beginner's Guide to Gardening) from Vicki-Arnold.com

What Should I Plant in My First Garden?

My advice for this is to start with what you eat. Trying new things will come when you have some experience under your belt. You do not want to spend your whole summer growing new things only to discover you don’t like any of them. Totally a bummer. Totally avoidable.

For Italian food fans:

  • tomatoes for sauce
  • basil, thyme, and oregano to season your sauce
  • onions and garlic to kick things up

For Mexican food fans:

  • tomatoes and onions for salsa
  • jalapenos for heating up your salsa
  • tomatillos to make salsa verde

For Chinese food fans:

  • bok choi and napa cabbage grow well in cooler temperatures
  • snow peas grow on pretty vines

Basically, look at the food you eat regularly and then find out if you can grow what’s in it.

Limited Space with Lots of Options?

There are two ways you could look at this. You could grow what you eat the most of or you can grow what will make the most impact to your grocery budget.

Eat a lot of salads? Try these:

  • lettuces have shallow roots and grow well in containers
  • sprouts can be sprouted on your countertop
  • carrots and radishes grow quickly and easily if you have a space you can cultivate 6-8 inches deep

Want to save as much money on your groceries as you can? These are relatively easy to grow, but tend to cost more at the grocery store:

  • bell peppers cost almost $2 each at the store, but you can buy a plant for less than $3 (and they grow more than two peppers)
  • strawberries and blueberries
  • leeks (and they have beautiful flowers)

What About Long Term?

If you are looking to stick with this gardening bit, and that would be a great idea for your health. Then there are some things you can do this year that will bear fruit (literally) in future years.

  • plant some fruit or nut trees, many of these come in dwarf varieties now
  • plant asparagus, it takes 2-3 years to be able to harvest
  • grape vines
  • consider herb gardening, most herbs are perennials so you don’t plant them each year

Further Reading

Linking up to Good Tips Tuesday, Share Your Stuff Tuesday, Titus 2sdays, The Mommy Club, Mom’s Library, and Welcome Party Wednesday.

Clip art created by Collective Creation

How to Read Blogs & Not Feel Like a Failure

Do you ever feel like bloggers have it all together? That you are the only one who can't do it all? Let me tell you a few things about bloggers at Vicki-Arnold.com

There seems to be an epidemic of guilt and feelings of failure rolling through blog readers these days. I am truly saddened by this because I know not one blogger who desires to make their readers feel this way.

I know I have been guilty of this myself in my “real” life and my online life. I see these women who are giants in an area and put them on a pedestal…without even realizing it. I finally realized what I was doing when I saw a woman I thought was this pillar of strength and faith break down in tears in a quiet setting…and I felt relieved. Relieved that this woman did NOT, in fact, have it all together.

And then I traded the guilt of not measuring up for the guilt of being relieved that someone else was suffering. You see, this guilt is a never ending cycle because we will never measure up. Never.

I wrote about guilt before and if you are dealing heavily with guilt, I want you to do two things. First, read this post. Second, email me through the contact page and let me know how I can pray for you.

For this post, I want to tackle the specific blogger-induced guilt running rampant. I want to tackle it and rip off the myths covering the truth like a cheap band-aid.

Myth #1: Bloggers are perfect.

People, please. Behind that blog is a person. Some of them do have their stuff together better than you in some areas, but I would be willing to bet that you have a better handle on other areas in life. For example, I am pretty good at this blogging thing (dude, that was painful to write…) and you may feel like a monkey when you try to write. That’s ok.

Wanna know where I struggle? Well, for the sake of brevity, I will share just one with you. You know that garden I wrote about earlier this year? Let me show you what it looks like right now…

Vicki, Vicki, how does your garden grow? Like this.

It’s a beauty, eh? (This is the result of those dastardly squash bugs, the rest of the mess I was going to show you my husband weedwhacked this past weekend. I kind of blew this garden this year…again.)

Please cut yourself some slack and do not measure your whole life against the very small portion of someone’s life that they put on the internet. Or the lots of small portions you see from lots of bloggers. Please.

Myth #2: Bloggers must have it all together to have the time to blog.

No. We have simply found a rhythm and balance that works for our family. Or not. Seriously, blogging takes time and that time spent blogging is not being spent doing a variety of things. It is a simple fact. If you are doing one thing, you can’t be doing another.

Many bloggers utilize things like crock pots; late nights and/or early mornings; and messy houses to make blogging work. It is a matter of priorities and someone else’s priorities should never make you feel inferior in yours.

Something that took me a long time to grasp is that sometimes it is a matter of life seasons. When I had three under the age of 4, there was no way on earth I would have had time to blog. I barely had time to bathe. Now that my kids are a little older (10, 9, 7, and 18m), when the toddler goes down for a nap, they go outside or do something on their own. This often leaves me with time to work.

Myth #3: Bloggers are online all the time and still have it all together.

Ha! Let me let you in on a little secret. Did you know that you can schedule things to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest? Yep. And we savvy bloggers do this so that we can be “online” when our readers are because the more often we are out there, the more likely you are to see our stuff. And the more people that see our stuff, the more traffic we get. The more traffic we get, well, I explained that in this post.

We interact when we are online and schedule things to share for when we aren’t. This is why it looks like we sit in front of a computer all day long. I could actually sit on Pinterest all day long, but something about naked kids being frowned upon and all.

Which brings me to the last myth I will tackle here:

Myth #4: Bloggers’ food/homeschool/houses/decor/etc. looks like a Pinterest pin.

Dude, you don’t even know how far from the truth this is. I love pinning things like lapbooks, DIY projects, and party ideas. And I DO use some of them, but…insert a big BUT here.

In real life, our homeschool has a lot of workbooks and frustrated mama moments. My sewing machine is currently buried under a pile of crap (not literal, thank heavens), and my kids are lucky if I let them break out the balloons and blow them up for parties. Because I don’t need something else to clean up. Amen?

You may not know this, but bloggers spend a good deal of time and effort into creating those “perfect” projects. Some do it simply for the fun of it and some do it because their blog is a business and traffic = money to a blogger.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to do everything you see on the internet. I see tattoos all over Pinterest, but that doesn’t make me feel guilty about not having one (needles!!). Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want the mess of glitter in your house and therefore don’t do that super spectacular glitter craft. And your kids may even turn out ok. ;)

Be the mom God intended you to be. Be you. Lose the guilt, please.

3 New to Me Gardening Books

3 New to Me Gardening Books at www.vicki-arnold.com

It is not a secret that I love my library. I added another reason to my list when I walked in the other day and found it had written a post for me! Well, not really, but sort of. You see, I am still recovering from the 12 Days of Christmas in July giveaway series, which wrapped up yesterday. Some of the giveaways are still open, don’t miss those.

So, I am taking a break from the Building the Ultimate Lego Library this week. Those take a while to put together and I just don’t have it in me this week.

What the heck does this have to do with my library? Or the title of this post, for that matter? Well, when I walked in there were three new (to me) gardening books sitting on the display and I haven’t done a gardening post in a really long time.

Let’s review. My brain = mush + library books = post! Not everyone is built for this blogging business…I’ll let you know if I am when I figure it out. :P

Without further ado…BOOKS!

Oh, poo. A little more ado, I must remind you of my use of affiliate links on this blog to appease the powers that be. Reminded? Good.

NOW without further ado…BOOKS!

The Speedy Vegetable Garde - a new (to me) gardening book

The Speedy Vegetable Garden by Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz

The Gourmet Garden - a new (to me) gardening book

The Gourmet Garden by Virginia Hayes

Gardening for the Birds - a new (to me) gardening book

Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard by George Adams

I am most excited about the last one. We have a bird feeder that we love to watch the birds flock to, but I would love to have landscaping that brings them (and bees, too) in naturally.

Which one interests you most?