Teen Mentoring is a difficult job, and one of the reasons why is because we need to find a way to help teens instill a sense of self-worth and self-respect. Those goals can be reached in different ways, and one of them is by introducing teens to gardening, helping them find resources and create gardens appropriate for their environments and finding locations and/or causes that can use the ‘fruits’ (and vegetables and herbs and flowers….) of their labors. If you want to convince your teen to begin this endeavor, the best way to influence them is to lead by example. If you do not already have one, create a garden of your own. This can include anything from herbs, to flowers, to fruits and veggies. (Random Tip #1: If your only outdoor space is an apartment deck, these days-with the right amount of sunshine-you can use a “Topsy Turvy” device to grow tomatoes, or you can use the “Topsy Turvy” designed to grow strawberries to do that or to grow small jalapeño peppers.)
However, Mentors, let us start with the ideal that you have a yard of your own, even if it is a modest one. This will give you all kinds of opportunities to grow flowers, veggies and fruits that you can donate to those in need. Starting with the easiest concept, begin a couple of tomato plants. You do not need fancy ‘tomato cages’ or other such accessories; just get a broomstick, hammer it into the ground and use strips of leftover fabric to tie your tomato plant upright as it grows. Have your teenagers help with the watering, the weeding and eventually, the harvesting and definitely the delivering of the tomatoes. You can take them to a food bank; I take a majority of mine to my church who cooks lunches for those in need. Kids get such a feeling of accomplishment when they are a part of this process!
So why grow flowers for those ‘in need’? Simple: I grow a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the summer that need to be cut, so when it is time for me to visit a doctor’s office or some other such appointment, all I do is go outside with my scissors, snip some flowers, wrap the bottoms with a wet paper towel and then part of a plastic grocery bag, then I grab a piece of tissue that matches and tie it with a piece of yarn. Free flowers for the receptionists! The same concept works if you need to visit someone in the hospital or in a nursing home.
These are all great ideas for plants that grow and bloom during the summer months, but what about plants that can be planted in March in Kansas City? Hearty lettuce and Potatoes!! In fact, you’ll harvest the lettuce before it is even time to plant anything you started indoors from seeds. In Kansas City’s Northland, here are the two BEST nurseries to buy your plants:
1. Larry’s Nursery
2501 NW Platte Rd.
Riverside, MO 64150
They take cash or checks only,
2. Family Tree Nursery–Liberty
830 W Liberty Drive
Liberty, MO 64068