Grow Your Own Playfort!
There's nothing like creating
a playfort from scratch!
Children love to cultivate their
fort and enjoy the unique shady
retreat they have made.
What You Will Need:
What You Do:
- 4x6 foot garden patch
- Short Stakes
- Tall-Growing Sunflower Seeds (such as Giant Greystripe or Russian Mammoth)
- Cheesecloth (optional)
- Late in spring, when the weather is warm, mark a 4x6 foot rectangle in the garden.
- Loosen the soil by digging into the ground around the edges a foot deep. The soil should be loose and crumbly.
- Push a stake in the ground at each corner. Mark the "doorway" with stakes (it is best to make the doorway on the 4-foot end of the rectangle).
- To help you plant seeds in straight lines, tie a string to the doorway stake and run the string around the stakes surrounding your fort.
- Plant seeds an inch deep and 6 inches apart. (Poke a hole in the dirt with your finger, put a seed in, and cover it up). Plant the seeds all around the edges of your fort but not the doorway.
- Water the seeds.
- Cover the seeds with a layer of cheesecloth to protect them from animals. Leave the cloth loose so the plants can grow; weigh down the edges with dirt to keep the cloth from blowing away. Water the sunflower plants several times each week morning is the best time to water.
- When the plants are several inches tall, remove the cheesecloth. Thin out the plants; sunflowers get huge and need the room. Keep the plants watered sunflowers need plenty of moisture. Be sure to occasionally pick out any weeds between the sunflowers; weeds will steal water and nutrients from the sunflowers.
- When the sunflowers are approximately 6 feet tall, loosely tie the tops of the plants from one side of the fort to the tops of the plants from the other side of the fort (continue doing this down the length of your fort) this will form a roof over your fort. Don't tie them too tight, or you will damage the sunflower stems!
Now you have a nice shady retreat to play in this Summer!Additional Ideas and Tips:
- Try making a Sunflower Fort in different shapes! For example, lay out a large circle in your garden, then create a maze-like path into the center of the circle. Children can walk through the Sunflower Maze to reach their play space in the center of the circle. A-maze-ing!
- For added color, plant Morning Glories (or other fast-growing vines) near the Sunflowers. The Morning Glories will use the Sunflowers to climb on, and your Sunflower Fort will have another beautiful color.
- Plant a variety of Sunflowers that grow to different heights the tallest Sunflowers will create the walls and roof of your playfort, and the shorter Sunflowers will help fill in the walls.
- Line the inside of your playfort with shredded wood chips to provide a comfortable floor and to help prevent weeds from growing.
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