Oak & Acorn: Add an Edible Teepee to Your Family Garden this Summer

A Growing Garden

Engage your children this summer by gardening together! Add an edible teepee to your garden for an added dimension of summer fun!

It’s that time of the year when we bring out our gardening tools and start tending to our gardens. Gardening with children is a terrific summer activity to do together.  It’s fun, very magical, and can be an amazing learning experience. It’s also nice to just be out with your kids, watching your garden grow and change over the seasons. Ever since my daughter, Thu, was a toddler, we have grown a garden every year. When she was younger, we did things hand in hand with each other, but now she is older and takes on a lot of the responsibilities by herself. I can tell that she is very proud of herself whenever she digs a hole with a trowel or carries the heavy water pitcher to take care of all our young vegetable plants. Gardening with kids is a really good thing!

If you haven’t planted any seeds yet or just feel a little overwhelmed, I suggest you use starter plants. Here in western Massachusetts we are really fortunate to live in towns that host farmers’ markets, great places to pick up starter plants… especially since you’re supporting your local farmers and can learn from their years of experience on best methods to grow your new plants.

If you have room in your garden to plant a few seeds, put those in the ground too.  Watching seeds sprout and grow into fruit producing plants can give kids a first hand experience of the life cycles of plants as they examine their different stages.   This can be satisfying experience for adults, and a very magical experience for kids!  Once those vegetables start growing, your child will be in awe of their growing garden. The whole processes teaches the importance of nurturing something that is living and growing.

One of our favorite things to build is an edible teepee or tent. It’s a very simple thing to build with your child and once all the vines start to grow around the twine and sticks, it will soon become your child’s favorite hideaway place. It’ll start off as a simple tent with very bare bones, but once it starts to grow it will be covered in vines. You can plant flowers and vegetables from seeds or starters . Once your plants have matured, you and your child can harvest them for your family dinner. This year we planted scarlet runner beans and nasturtiums which go great in a summer salad or for decorating a cake. Both of these are edible and easy for kids to pick once they have reached their mature stage.

Here is a list of what you need & the steps involved:

  • Five sticks that are at least six feet tall.
  • Rope (for stabilizing the top of your tent).
  • Seeds or starters (anything edible that will grow in vines reaching 6 feet high).
  • Sturdy twine for the vines to grow around.
  • Lay down your 6ft sticks and tie a rope at both ends, leaving enough space at one side. This works better with the help of another.
  • Once it’s standing, pull the bottom ends of the sticks apart to shape its form. Leave one opening larger than the rest for your child to go in and out of.
  • Add rows of twine from top to bottom of the tent, which will be wrapped around each stick and knotted at the ends.

It’s very simple to put this together. Thu loves building these with me and watching them fill out as the plants grow over the summer.  Within time you will have vines growing all over the place. Sometimes the vines need a little help in finding direction, but once they get going they keep growing and growing. Try this and before you know it , this will become a regular part in your garden every year. Good luck and get out in your garden!


Leslie Lynn Lucio
Leslie Lynn LucioLeslie is from Texas but has always been drawn to New England. She lives in the town of Northampton and loves living in Western Massachusetts. She spends a lot of time with her five year old and connecting with the community. Her interest include cooking, DIY projects,writing, biking, being outdoors, photography, restoration, food preservation and social activism. She spends some of her time farming when she can and also you can spot her working with the Pedal People.

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