Planting a Blog that Blooms…

I am new to the blog world, so it’s time to take note from those that have come before… I am choosing to write about children and gardening from an uncommon angle: personal reflection of my time spent observing and volunteering with a local outreach organization. I hope my unique angle will give me an edge, but it will also require me to clearly establish the purpose of this blog for you, the reader.

First off, how do I attract visitors to this site visually? During my search of other gardening blogs, I came across one with a hideously memorable WordPress template, which I immediately recognized from when I had searched for my own blog background. This blog was unattractive to me for two reasons: 1) I know the pattern was slapped onto the blog form the WordPress templates with minimal thought put into site appearance, and 2) the pattern is busy and distracting, which makes the blog look disorganized.

For my own blog, I plan to gather some gardening or outdoors pictures of my own which you now see as the background of my site. One of the most attractive blog sites I found from dirtgarden used a picture of daisies as a header against a black backdrop for the home page, with text floating on top. These are the kinds of details that intrigue me to linger long enough to read some of the blog content.

The pictures I place on this blog can play a big role in describing the function of my site. My first thought for pictures is to provide images of growing gardens or maybe children’s little fingers in the dirt. In many cases, similar blogs may provide these kinds of images, but they usually avoid posting their own faces in the garden. Perhaps bloggers avoid posting images of themselves so the author appears more distanced from the subject and thus more objective and unbiased. But hold on: my blog is about participating and not just observing, and I know I influence my environment. That’s fine! I plan to include images of myself among the pictures I post because, while this blog is an exploration of children’s gardening, it is contaminated by the observer – ME!

The purpose of this blog is not to provide marketing strategies for blogging, but a thoughtful blog is a wise investment. I hope my observations and lessons learned from the blogosphere serve us all well in our missions to be heard.

WP 2/23


Seed Starting Workshop: For All Ages?

In anticipation of warmer weather and softer soils, Friends of Burlington Gardens (FBG) hosted its first annual seed-sprouting event to get kids ready for spring gardening. The event was conveniently held at the same time as the neighboring winter farmer’s market, but it was an awkward juxtaposition to see plots of soft summer grass, a badminton net, and a lemonade stand in the drafty basement of a municipal building.

This Saturday was my first time working with FBG, and my job was to help kids plant seed starters in small plastic drink cups. I introduced myself to my host, and then was promptly put to work setting up a workshop table with the plastic potting cups, labels, a watering can, soil, and a few dozen seed packets. I worked the earlier half of the event, when traffic was slowest, but I helped about 8 or 10 kids plant their soon-to-be fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

If I were stranded on a desert island where I committed the rest of my life to teaching kids how to make their seed starters, and I only could bring one kind of seed… I would bring watermelon seeds. These seeds are big and easy to tuck into a soft bed of soil, and kids loved the idea of growing this juicy fruit. Whenever a child was too shy or quiet (or distracted by badminton games) to pick a seed, I pushed the Moon and Stars watermelon seed.

Although some of the very youngest preschool-aged kids needed plenty of direction and were rather timid, the older elementary-schoolers dug into the project with little hesitation. At one point, three girls were planting their seeds together and making their own tags (which they all labeled with their names, rather than the plant’s). The girls planted 2-3 starters a piece and followed the reading instructions on the plant packages with me.

Many of these girls must have planted starters before, I thought. How could this be such an intuitive process to them? Sure, Mom helped some with directions, but the kids piled soil into their potting cups and dropped in seeds without asking many questions. I thought my job would be more about directing shy children all day and prodding them to try planting, but it was just the opposite: I had trouble keeping up with watering the plants for kids as they finished up! I suspect most adults would be much more timid to create starters, out of fear of making a mistake, maybe burying a seed too deep in the dirt or spilling too much water into the cup. These children, on the other hand, had no fear of mistakes or the knowledge they lacked. At what age do we decide gardening is only a task for the master gardener?

FN 2/6