The Q&A Archives: Planting In An Old Red Wagon

Question: My little family is VERY new to planting and planning our little tiny Flower Garden. We live in an apartment complex with a small, well-shaded/partial-sun square of soil. We have experimented with annuals and perenials with varied success. The land owners had laid heavy plastic down under the dirt to cut down I guess on weeds which has interfered in some of our plans.

At any rate - my question turns from our own experimenting to the wish of our little 5 year old. She wants to be able to play in the dirt with us, and would love her very own little garden. We ran across an old red wagon and originally wanted to put a few potted plants in there and set it in the garden as a centerpiece. But now I am wondering if it is possible to plant a few flowers in the wagon itself, so she can dig in the dirt and have her own little space? It is metal and we are wondering what we could lay down first (if anything) before filling with soil, as well as what kind of flowers would work best in a shallow amount of soil with little five year old hands!?

Answer: A really important first step is to make sure the wagon has adequate drainage holes in the bottom. If not, it will fill with water during the first rainstorm! Most wagons are only 4"-6" deep, reducing your choice of plants to annuals, or those perennials with very small root systems. You can use potting soil or a mixture of potting soil and garden soil to fill the wagon, but don't use straight garden soil as your only planting medium. (Garden soil can dry out so completely that it's hard to re-wet.)

Children are always impressed with big flowers in bright colors, but with the shallow planting container you might want to concentrate instead on small plants, perhaps with fragrance rather than large flowers. Wooly thyme would be a good choice, as would chamomile, viola, and rosemary. To add a little height to your garden, plant dwarf marigolds or nasturtiums. All of these plants are child-safe.

Hope your little red wagon is a success!

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