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Creating Your Own Miniature Ecosystem!

What you will need:

-window box with at least 1 drain hole in it

-small, shallow saucer or lid

-hand shovel

-compost or potting soil, gravel, pebbles, broken pieces of terra-cotta

-plants of your choosing

This week we’re rolling up our sleeves, getting our hands dirty and letting our imaginations run wild!

We are going to make a miniature ecosystem with really as many elements in it as you and your child want! It’s up to YOU!

The cool thing about this is that you can create (and maintain) this, even if you live in the city with only a window box accessible to you. As long as it is outside, it will work.

You’ll need to pay attention to the amount of light you get each day. Is the sun direct, indirect, a combo? Is it part shade or full shade?

Once you have determined the type of light, you can choose your plants accordingly.

There are some fantastic picture books for building a garden with little ones that you can use as resources and then, of course, the internet if you need to dig deeper. I list some at the end of this.

Next you can decide what types of plants or flowers you want to experiment with.

Do you want to include cooking herbs such as thyme, rosemary or oregano? Many of these also offer a strong fragrance, so decide if that is your preference or not.

You might even still be able to snag a tomato or pepper plant right now, if that tickles your fancy.

Are you trying to attract certain critters such as hummingbirds or butterflies? You’ll want something a bit showier in the flower category. Perhaps some petunias?

If you’re in full or part shade, ferns are lovely as are certain types of begonias and impatiens.

Do you want only want foliage, or are flowers important to you? What colors?

Make sure that the plants you choose have similar water requirements.

For example, ferns love being misted and most prefer to be kept moist. That wouldn't be ideal planted next to a sun-loving, drought tolerant lavender, thyme, or oregano plant.

Lastly, you can decide if you want a variety or heights and growth patterns or the same:

ex. mounding, trailing, spikey, etc.

1. Put a few of the broken pot pieces and/or pebbles in bottom of your box/pot

2. Add compost or potting soil—fill about ½ way

3. Plan where you want to position the plants you selected as well as the small lid or saucer.

4. Plant them with any trailing plants hanging over the side, spikes in the back (or not...just a suggestion) ;)

5. Water them all well this first time, even if you chose drought loving plants

6. Nestle the saucer with a few pebbles in it atop the dirt and fill it with water

7. Fill in around the plants with more soil

8. Add a thin layer of mulch, bark, more pebbles or gravel on the top of the soil to help retain moisture

9. Keep a little record of who shows up to visit your newly created ecosystem! You can draw them, take photos, a written journal, etc.

Continue to care for it as you have learned how, as this is a living ecosystem.

As you model this for your little one, you are teaching them to care for others, the earth and creating a relationship with nature.

You are also building memories along the way that are part of that

firm foundation between you and your child.

Have fun letting you imagination go wild and creating together!

Here are the picture books I mentioned:

July’s Picks:

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba

Butterfly House by Eve Bunting

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

We are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines

June’s Picks:

How Does My Garden Grow? by Gerda Müller

Plant a Pocket of Prairie by Phyllis Root

May’s Picks:

Flower Garden by Eve Bunting

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart

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