So, I dig gardening. (Get it?) I have passed that on (so far) to my oldest child, and the little one really likes playing in the dirt. I also enjoy doing things with the kids that are not only fun, but that allow me to sneak in some learning.
Today we set up a Bean House. What’s a bean house? I don’t know. That’s what my daughter wanted to call it & it’s really the most appropriate title. We got the idea from a friend’s Facebook wall with instructions for a bean den and a willow den.
Basically, we built a play house that will act as a trellis for a (hopefully) vining bean plant. I started with an area that had already been cleared thanks to a pile of brush that was recently removed. Speaking of that brush that I have recently cleared form our jungle of a back yard; I grabbed 4 rather large branches with a “Y” shape, cut them to roughly the same length with the chainsaw, and sharpened the bottoms. I dug some holes with a small gardening shovel and drove the posts in as far as I could, mounding up some dirt around each pole. I used some gardening wire to secure four branches across the top for a nice little cube-ish frame.
Then, I let the munchkins “help” while I secured several smaller sticks across the top, down along the sides, and across the sides. At one point we ran low on sticks, so I used some old wooden and bamboo tomato stakes. The wooden stakes seemed to really help make the rest of the structure stable because I could really pound them into the ground well. To secure everything, I used some newly purchased garden wire, and whatever twine and garden wire that we had leftover from previous years’ gardening adventures.
The top is a thatched mess of “wonky” branches that are woven together to provide slightly more shade than the sides, but will still be open for the growing vines. My shelter would probably make Survivorman Les Stroud hang his head in shame, but it’s better than most of the shelters on Naked and Afraid.
The wife and little guy helped water the mounds so I could pack them down, and then I mounded dirt all around every post & they helped do the same. Then we mulched the mound with grass clippings & packed it down again.
Finally I dug some holes for the pre-soaked Kentucky Wonder green bean seeds (beans?) around the base of the entire structure, and the whole family helped put in the seed-starter potting soil mix, the seeds, and some more dirt & mulch in place. We placed some plastic forks facing outward all around the seeds at the base of the thing to hopefully help ward off the local overpopulation of rabbits. I may try some additional deterrent like bloodmeal.
Later indoors, we found some other stuff and made a sign to hang once I get a coat or two of clear coat on it.
While we put it up, we talked about enjoying outside, building things, growing things, recycling and up-cycling, sunshine, water, and everything. We talked about how grass clippings act like a mulch that holds moisture for the plants. We talked about how the fertilizer and Miracle-Gro in the water acts like vitamins for the plants… vitamins like the one’s we’ll get from eating the beans. I’m sure we’ll have discussions in the future about patience, including our little brother, and not knocking the bean house over.
My wife and I have always tried to talk to the kids with the same respect we’d give other adults. We don’t use small words. We explain things as best we can, encourage and answer questions. I’m continually amazed at the observations that our daughter makes in conversation, and through our son’s actions that show an understanding of exactly what is going on.
If you’re reading this and are a parent, I ask you to narrate to your kids what you’re doing & why when you do an activity together. You may think they’re too little to get it, but they’re constantly absorbing what you’re doing.
This is a great way to get into all kinds of stuff like gardening, up-cycling/recycling, food not lawns, urban farming, and striving to pass on the importance of such things as knowing how to grow food to your kids. I’m excited to plant some tomatoes, peppers, and try a few new things this year. I love going outside and seeing vegetable plants in the summer. I love the smell of the dirt and growing plants. I hope to pass this on and that the kids love it too.
All-in, I paid around $10 for the seeds, wire, & fertilizer. Everything else we had here on hand or could have probably found easily for free.
Please, enjoy some photos and share some in the comments if you build your own!