Despite the cold weather outside, seed catalogs are starting to arrive in the mail and making promises of the spring to come. If you are like me the idea of getting outside and digging in the dirt makes you giddy with joy. Of course, you don’t have to hog all that fun for yourself. Getting dirty, digging holes, and watching new little plants bloom make gardening with kids double the fun.
Getting kids involved in gardening is very easy to do, no matter if you have a huge yard to grow things in or are using pots on the balcony of you apartment. Even children as young as two can help with basic gardening tasks such as watering, planting, and pulling weeds. Begin by letting your little one in on the planning of your garden. Whether you are growing vegetables or flowers, letting them pick out some of the plants will make kids even more involved. Older children might even enjoy having a small garden of their own. A simple 3 foot by 3 foot square is big enough to grow nearly anything and yet still small enough for kids to manage on their own. Indoor gardeners could give their children a few pots or an entire window box of their own to care for.
When gardening with your kids it is important to remember that they can be more impatient than parents and can easily get discouraged. Fast growing flowers such as Guara , Black-eyed Susan, and Sunflowers are all beautiful and germinate quickly. For vegetable gardeners try lettuce, radishes, and beans. A small herb garden is also a good choice for children, you can grow most herbs both indoors or out without much space and they sprout soon to make your little gardener very excited. When your kids see their gardens coming to life quickly it can encourage them to continue caring for their plants and kindle a love of gardening.
Gardening with your kids can be a great educational time as well as creating wonderful memories. Talk about the different plants you are growing, about the worms and small insects they might find crawling about, discuss the weather and how it effects the growth of your garden, and if you are composting explain how the scraps you toss in becomes food for your little plants. You might be amazed at how much science a child can learn from growing a simple garden.
If you are looking for a few great books to help you introduce gardening to your kids start with the Eco Child’s Play recommendation of A Child’s Garden: 60 Ideas to Make Any Garden Come Alive for Children. A few of my personal favorites are
- Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children
- Gardening With Children
- Gardening With Kids
- A Backyard Vegetable Garden for Kids
What are some of your favorite books for getting kids involved in gardening? What are some of your tricks and tips for helping kids get in the garden?
Image source – woodsy/sxc.hu
I’m new to gardening, but want to plant in spring with my kids. You mentioned that seed catalogs are starting to arrive. Which ones are best? Is it too late to order?
Summer Minor says
ShawnC, my favorite is The Cook’s Garden. But there are several great seed catalogs out there. Johnny’s Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and Raintree Nursery are also good ones.
My favorite seed company is Pinetree Garden Seeds (https://www.superseeds.com/). We order from them every year and have never been disappointed. Not only do they carry a huge variety of seeds, but they sell seeds in quantities–and at prices–that are reasonable for a small-scale, kitchen gardener. So instead of paying a few dollars for a huge packet of seeds, of which I’ll use only a small portion, I can spend much less for a smaller packet.
For gardening with little kids, I high recommend purple beans. They are the same as green beans in appearance and taste but are dark purple when ripe (and turn green when cooked)–a color that’s easy for kids to spot amid the green foliage. My three-year-old loved finding ripe beans last summer and eating them right off the plants!
Summer Minor says
Marsha, thanks for reminding me about Pinetree! It’s one of the few catalogs that didn’t flood my mail box yet so I had forgotten how much I love them.
Stephanie - Green SAHM says
My kids love gardening too. They were helping Daddy with the compost pile the other day… gotta love southern California weather!
Every year we go over which plants they can forage from freely, and which they need to ask permission first. It works really, well, although the smaller tomatoes generally get eat before they make it inside. Oh, rats! 😉
I loved this post (I saw it featured on the carnival “nature conservation and green living tips”).
We thought your readers might be interested in some free resources we created to help people get started growing their own food… Would you like me to post the link?
Warmest wishes to all,
Claire and the VegBox Team