materials are certainly too expensive for a kids' garden club. But not if the
"building materials" are living plants, grown from seed! You can make a unique
and memorable plant playhouse by sowing garden giants that kids love to grow,
and letting them make a fort or playhouse out of the green structure.
sure way to encourage observation of plant growth and parts up close is to
build a house out of them. Unlike a teepee, a plant house does not require
poles. The walls are composed of the plants themselves
best choices are tall plants such as corn, hollyhocks, or sunflowers.
Here's a how-to:
1. Design the layout. Have students design
the layout of the house. It can be any shape they desire - who says it has to
be square or rectangular? It can have multiple rooms if there's enough growing
space. Allow for a 3-foot-wide entrance, and some space for doorways between "rooms."
2. Sow the walls. Now, there's something you don't hear
every day! This means that, as usual, you should loosen up and cultivate the
soil where the seeds for the house's walls will grow. Scrape the outline of
each room into the soil, add a little compost or well-rotted manure, and plant
seeds to the appropriate depth. Water and weed the patch as the plants grow.
3. Prepare a nice
If you expect students to spend some time inside the playhouse, it would be
nice to lay down some black plastic, topped by clean straw, as "carpet" to make
their time inside more enjoyable, and also to cut down on weeds.
4. Make some shade. You can create a "roof"
on your house by training climbing vines such as runner beans or morning
glories up the tall plants that are forming the "walls." When the "roof" plants
reach the top, connect strings to the tops of one row of plants to those on the
opposite wall. Train the vines to crawl across the top.
If you live in an area with high winds and thunderstorms in the summertime, a
bit of "insurance" so that the plant playhouse isn't toppled by them is to sink
an 8' plastic-coated metal pole about a foot deep in every corner, and tie jute
string from one pole to the other, collecting the plants that are part of the
"walls" as you go.
forget to take a picture of your gardeners enjoying their creation. Remember .
. . there's no place like home, and there'll be no place like this green,
living home in their childhood memory banks.