5 Fun Fall Garden Projects
Outdoor fun needn’t stop when summer ends. There’s lots of gardening fun to be had in fall!
Susan Sachs Lipman
If your family has been enjoying the garden this summer, there’s no reason to call it quits in the fall. In fact, some of these projects are tailor-made for fall. All of them will allow you to experience nature’s wonders year-round while having some family fun.
Activities are adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World
Have a Seed Race
All races are fun. Why not make gardening into a game with a seed race?
- Choose two or more types of seeds. Seeds that can often be planted in cool weather include beans, peas, lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli, radishes and pansies.
- Plant them at the same time, in the same conditions, near each other in the ground or in similar containers, indoors or out. (Or plant the same seeds and vary one or more conditions as an experiment.)
- Water and watch which one emerges first and grows fastest.
- Stake them with a store- bought or homemade yardstick if you want to measure their progress exactly.
Grow Food (or a Catnip Toy) for a Pet
Just as with harvesting food for humans, it’s fun and rewarding to know that your garden is growing food for a pet. If your pet isn’t used to a particular food, introduce it slowly to make sure the food agrees with the pet.
These are some fun pet foods to try:
- Rabbits usually like carrots, dandelions, grasses, nasturtiums, parsley, basil and mint.
- Hamsters usually like carrots, cucumbers, grasses and lettuce.
- Iguanas usually like collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, parsley and red hibiscus.
- Cats, of course, like catnip. Don’t feed catnip to cats. Harvest and oven- or air-dry the leaves. Crumble into an old sock and tie with twine for a play toy.
Make a Pinecone Bird Feeder
Birds are always fun to welcome to a garden or windowsill. It’s great to know that by feeding them, you’re helping them survive through fall and winter, too. Buy or download an identification chart, or check out this local bird search guide. Experiment with different kinds of bird seeds, to see which birds each attracts. Need more inspiration? Check out this photo gallery of backyard birds.
- Pinecone (or toilet paper tube)
- 2′- 3′ of string
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, peanut or other nut butter, suet or lard
- 1/4 cup cornmeal or oatmeal
- 2 1/2 cups mixture of birdseed, chopped nuts and dried fruit
- Mixing bowl
- Plate, shallow dish, or pie tin
- Spoon or butter knife
How to do it:
- Tie the string around one end of the pinecone (or punch a hole in the toilet paper tube).
- In mixing bowl, combine peanut butter or other spread with meal.
- Spread that mixture over the pinecone with the knife or spoon.
- Pour the birdseed and feed ingredients onto the plate.
- Roll the pinecone in the seeds.
- Hang from a tree branch or window eave.
Make a Rain Gauge
Because it’s measured in inches, rain is something that’s easy and concrete to measure.
- Large clear glass jar or plastic bottle
- Ruler, tape, and waterproof marker
- Rock, optional
How to do it:
- Place the bottle or jar on a flat surface and place a line of tape going up it.
- With one person holding the ruler, carefully mark 1/2″ increments on the tape with the marker, starting at the bottom of the jar.
- Set the rain gauge outside where it will catch rain (or snow).
- Weight with rocks if necessary.
- Observe how much rain falls into the gauge. You may want to observe at the same time each day and make a weekly or monthly rain chart. Either empty the gauge between uses or collect rain cumulatively. Try to guess how much new rain has fallen before looking at the measurement.
Make a Root Viewer
The roots of a plant can be just as fascinating as the parts we see aboveground. This simple root viewer lets you view the magical processes that happen below the surface.
- Clear plastic cups, bottles, or jars
- Seeds and dirt
How to do it:
- Fill the containers most of the way with dirt.
- Plant the seeds close to one side, one or two per cup. Quick-sprouting seeds that don’t require a lot of sun include beans, peas, lettuce, radishes, bachelor’s buttons, sweet alyssum and sweet William. (As a bonus, with radishes and some beans, you’ll see the actual vegetable. Be sure to plant in a large enough container.)
- Place the containers in the sun or on a sunny windowsill and water gently.
- Watch as roots form and plants sprout.
- Looking for other ways to observe seeds and plants, indoors or out? Try a sponge garden.
For more outdoor fun and ideas, visit Be Out There's Activity Finder.
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