Cinderblock wall garden

What: A miniature garden in a small space, at kid height, planted in cinderblocks.

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New polkadot seedlings freshly planted. I have to work water into the soil each planting because of the drying effect.

How: The cinderblocks are stacked carefully against an existing small wall by our front door, where it’s easy for kids to remember to water them and also where school water bottles get tipped out daily. I made sure block holes were lined up so there’s a good 30cm of depth (the key depth for success), and filled them with good quality potting mix. Each time we plant I usually have to top up the soil a little as well, as it settles and drains out over time.

We’ve planted them with various seedlings over the seasons – beans that climbed up strings, a spider plant that came home from daycare, herbs that became snail food. It doesn’t matter – they’re in a very easy to see place so that they can be managed and interacted with regularly. Our current incarnation is Kid 6’s adored polkadot plant, with leaves in spots of several kinds of pink and white.

It’s wise to pick plants that don’t mind a bit of dryness, because the cinderblocks pull water out of the potting mix so the soil can get quite dry over time (re-wet it thoroughly every planting and dig the water in). Also make sure it’s plants that are good in pots, as the holes in the blocks are not wide. I tend to avoid plants that attract bees because ours is right by the front door, but your mileage may vary.

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The full block wall. It’s not a large thing. The bamboo stakes are leftover from when we grew beans and peas.

Extras: This makes a space where you can do all those lovely garden-interaction things regularly – talking about flowers, scents, colours; looking at bugs and snails; watching something grow; measuring it as it grows; whatever it is you want to do. In theory you can grow your own after-school snacks, which takes a bit of planning, discussion and responsibility, but I found that in small spaces like this the results aren’t that reliable, garden beds are better for that sort of thing. It’s not impossible though. Another option is mint leaves to pick and stick in water bottles on your way out the door.

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