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The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Gardening with Kids

Gardening with Kids

Looking for something to occupy the kids this summer? For an activity that is fun, but is also great way to teach responsibility, hard work, and healthy eating, try starting a veggie garden together.

If you already have a veggie garden, it’s easy to get kids involved with it. Let your children know that they are responsible for performing certain tasks in the garden. Be careful not to overwhelm them, though. Give them simple tasks to get started. Children need to see the fruits of their labors right away. Small, simple tasks are sure to do just that.

For younger children it can be as simple as letting them plant the seeds. You till the earth, hill the rows, and make the holes for the seeds. For older kids, have them help you with some weeding, or put them in charge of the watering. Never make a child do all of the weeding, or digging, and turning of the earth, though. These are the harder and more mundane chores of the garden, and will mean instant boredom, and gardening will become a chore, instead of something they delight in.

Another strategy is to designate one small area as the children’s personal garden. You might build a small raised bed just for them, cordon off a small section of the main garden, or even buy a few small containers. Allow them to decide what to grow there, and give them complete responsibility for this mini-garden (with your guidance and help, of course).

If you don’t already have a garden, it’s easy to start a small one. Dig a small patch for a dozen or so bush beans and a couple of cucumber plants and tomatoes. Beans are one of the easiest things to grow, even for kids, and they grow quickly, so there’s an almost immediate reward, which is important for keeping first-time growers excited.

If you prefer, your garden can be a sizable one that will supply food for the table every couple of days. Either way, this can be a very rewarding project for you and your children or grandchildren, in many ways. They will learn that food doesn’t have to come from the store, but can come from their own hard work.

Once kids see the plants growing, and the flowers turn to food, they will become motivated to take on more responsibility in the garden. Mulching and weeding will seem more important to them. They will develop an understanding of the relationship between the sun, the soil, and their local climate. They will also be able to claim bragging rights about their garden to relatives, teachers, and friends.

Growing a garden will instill in your children so many positive traits. It will also give them fantastic memories of you when they are older.

Most kids are naturally curious and enjoy feeling helpful. Gardening is a great way to tap into, and strengthen, those qualities. If you need a little help coaxing your kids off of the sofa and into the garden, though, here are a few tips to make the experience more exciting:

- Look through gardening catalogs with them. Let them pick out what they like to eat.

- Take them to an interactive farm for a visit.

- Let them plan and prepare meals with their crops using their favorite recipes.

- Start with easy, quick growers like green beans and sunflowers.

- Start out with container gardening. This way they have their own plants and will feel a greater sense of ownership.

- Have them grow colorful varieties like red potatoes, purple beans, and yellow tomatoes.

- Get them involved with 4-H. If they are competitive, let them enter the local agricultural fairs for ribbons.

- Given them a “hang out” spot out in the garden that’s theirs. Maybe behind the sunflowers or corn stalks.

- If they are creative, ask them to design and make labels for their pots and rows on the computer.

- Have them make their own scarecrows. If you have more than one child involved, make it a contest for the scariest or funniest.

5 comments

1 vmgriffin082 { 05.07.12 at 10:12 am }

I feel bad not mentioning my daughter (3) who will also be helping with the planting :)

2 vmgriffin082 { 05.07.12 at 9:05 am }

My son and the neighbor boy (ages 5 and 6) absolutely love getting out in the garden and helping to turn the soil. We can’t wait to start planting! I remember helping out when I was a kid and this is something that I want to teach my kids, and they are so proud of what they accomplish.

3 Lynn Grubber { 06.10.11 at 12:02 am }

Gardening can be a fun family activity and teaching kids early makes them appreciate how to grow vegetables and eat healthy.

4 Pam { 05.23.11 at 4:36 pm }

I love growing kid’s favorite plant the TickleMe Plant in my Classroom.
The children always react with such excitement and surprise as the leaves of the TickleMe Plant close up when Tickled! Just search TickleMe Plant to easily grow your own . It’s unbelievable! http://www.ticklemeplant.com

5 Terri { 05.23.11 at 1:06 pm }

Great hobby for kids to get into. I remember when my kids were small and the excitement they had watching things grow that they started from either seeds or seedlings. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to your next article.

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