A fun project for the kids this summer which will help introduce or reinforce their ideas about the enjoyment found in gardening could be growing a playhouse composed of giant sunflowers (be sure to select a tall variety of seed), morning glories and moonflowers. These plants would also attract hummingbirds to your garden.
To get started you will need:
A sunny spot in the garden (at least 6 ft. by 6 ft. square). A smaller space or a circular playhouse will work, too.
A shovel or spading fork and rake (This is where adults are most useful.)
Compost or soil builder.
Sunflower, morning glory and / or moonflower seeds.
A ruler, 4 small stakes and string.
A full watering can or hose
Begin by soaking the morning glory seeds and moonflower seeds overnight to make them sprout more readily.
Trace an 8 ft. by 8 ft. square in a flat, sunny area. Ask adults to help you dig up soil about 6" to 8" deep in a 2 ft. wide strip within each of the four walls leaving a 2 ft. wide doorway uncultivated on one of the walls. Spread 4 in. of compost or soil builder over the cultivated area and dig it in. Don't plant seeds in the doorway!
Place a stake 1" inside each corner and connect them with string. This should make a 6 ft. by 6 ft. square.
Using your ruler, plant 2 or 3 sunflower seeds every 12" under the string. Then make four evenly spaced holes around each sunflower seed hole. Plant morning glory and/or moonflower seeds in the holes. Cover all the seeds with 1/2" of soil. You can remove the string now.
Soak the soil with water. Check the soil for moistness every day. For the first four weeks, the soil should stay evenly moist. Afterward, water when the soil feels dry.
When the sunflowers have grown to 2" to 3", thin out all but one at each spot. Leave the morning glories and moonflowers alone.
Soon, the sunflowers will reach 5 to 6 ft. tall. The morning glories and moonflowers will climb up the sunflower stalks.
Make a roof by twining string back and forth across the tops of the sunflowers. Then ask a tall adult to help you train the morning glories to grow across the top of your playhouse. By late summer, you should have a cozy retreat of your own which the birds and hummingbirds will also find attractive.