Hello and Happy Earth Day everyone! A special hello if you’ve just joined us.
I had the opportunity last week to share garden advice with yoyomama readers and many new folks are joining us on these weekly posts. Hooray! Welcome! This is a great day (and time of year) to get inspired about all things green, growing, outdoors and adventurous.
This week, as an Earth Day tribute, I’m sharing this how-to project for making your own little people summer hide out. This project can be adapted to work in a garden, lawn or balcony and it’s the perfect way to get yourself and your kidlets into the garden. Easy, fragrant, edible and irresistible all in one.
Expanding on the classic idea of bean tee-pees, we’re going to make a roomier version with more plant diversity. Here’s what you’ll need and how-to do it:
- 5 to 8 long poles (bamboo works well)
- Twine, string or rubber connectors to tie the poles together
- Net or string to go between the poles
- Your choice of seeds for climbing plants
- Sweet pea flowers
- Nasturtium flowers
- Pole or runner beans
- Climbing varieties of snap or shelling peas
Prepare the soil where the poles will be pressed into the ground. If your tee pee is on the lawn, remove grass and dig in compost, a little lime will help too. If you’re doing this in the garden or in containers on a balcony, mix in compost and prepare the beds/containers as you would for any new seeds.
Arrange the poles in a tee-pee shape, so that you have enough space in the centre for a few small people to comfortably gather.
Tie the tops together with string or use these handy rubber connectors that you can find at your local garden store. To ensure your vines have plenty of places to climb you can also string a net or string between the poles.
To grow a green oasis that provides flowers, fragrance, nourishment and plenty of leafy greens for shade and shelter choose a mix of seeds:
Sweet peas will provide you with lovely flowers that you can cut again and again for bouquets and play. There are many varieties of sweet peas in all sorts of colours, the ones with larger flowers have less scent so I prefer heritage varieties, like Matacuna, that have an incredible fragrance.
Nasturiums are another climbing flower that produces edible flowers in abundance and has large leaves that are perfect for green hideouts.
Pole beans and runner beans are how bean tee-pees got their start. Scarlet runner beans have bright flowers and are rampant growers. Their beans are less preferred for culinary purposes, but for snacking right off the vine they will be just fine. Adding pole beans—my daughter has already picked out a purple variety—will provide another nutritious snack that you will want to harvest for dinner too. If you’re in a cooler climatic zone (like Canada or the midwest) wait until May to plant your bean seeds.
There are many varieties of snap peas and shelling peas, some grow on short vines and some climb high, so make sure you choose ones that will grow to 6′ or higher for your tee pee. Peas are another favourite among the little gardener set to eat right off the vine or harvest for meals.
Plant your seeds the depth and spacing recommended on the packets (about 1/2″ depth and a few inches apart) and mix the types of seeds as you plant around the tee-pee or plant the nasturtiums as an outer ring as they’ll happily ramble at ground level. Water, wait, weed if necessary, and as plants begin to grow you can help place them on the netting and poles to guide them upward.
If you only do one garden project with kids this year let this be the one. A growing, green hideout lush with fragrant flowers and crisp peas and beans is the best place imaginable to nurture the dreams of little plant lovers. Every day will be Earth Day with this hide out.
If you try out this project please share photos as you go along. I’ll share mine too.
Have ideas of what you’d like to do next? Share your ideas and questions and I’ll talk about them in future posts.
Enjoy the day! And say a little thanks to our green earth.