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Whether your kids are 5 or 15, gardening is a fun family activity to share. It gets kids (and you!) outside, connects them to nature, and encourages healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. It also teaches them to be good stewards of the earth, allowing them to discover how plants attract birds, bees, worms, and other beneficial creatures. Plus, there’s nothing like seeing the look of pride on a child’s face when they eat something theyhelped cultivate. Creating a garden with your child is worth the time and effort – and it’s easy to do!
Involve kids at every stage of gardening, from planning to harvest
Before you turn any dirt or plant any seeds you need to do some planning. This is a great place to begin the process with your child. As you design your garden space, you can talk about sun exposure, the seasons, how much space you’ll need, and what you’d like to grow.
First, look at your potential garden space with your child. If you have a small yard, or even no yard at all, you can still grow an edible garden. This might surprise them. They may think growing food only happens in rural areas or requires acres of land. Show them how you can turn a small balcony or porch in an urban area into a tiny oasis of green. This might mean a single raised bed or a modest vertical gardening system. It doesn’t need to be big to produce results.
Start small and watch your garden grow
Once you’ve selected the right spot for your planters, have your kids help you till the soil and add manure or other natural compost. It’s best to follow organic gardening principles and not us pesticides or other chemicals since younger kids tend to put their fingers in their mouths. It’s also another good lesson about how to the treat the earth respectfully.
Once the soil is ready, kids can then help plant the seeds, weed, and water. Consider giving your child a planter of their own to tend and care for. They could even paint or decorate the planter to give it their own personal flair. Once seeds are in the ground, have them watch carefully each day for signs of life. They’ll be excited when they see those tender shoots finally coming up!
As your child’s enthusiasm for gardening grows, so will the size of your garden. Don’t be surprised if next year they ask for another planter so they can expand their space for growing and experimenting.
What to plant when gardening with kids
Since you want your kids to eat what they grow, it’s best to start with some favorites if possible. Once they experience the joy of harvesting and eating from their own garden they might become more adventurous eaters. For instance, the kid who never liked tomatoes before might change her tune once she snacks on a sweet cherry tomato planted and tended with her own hands.And other with cherry tomatoes, other easy to grow produce includescarrots, strawberries, lettuce, miniature pumpkins, and potatoes – especially spuds grown vertically in our large tower containers.
Whatever you plant is sure to make an impression on your child. The important thing is to get out and do it. You may just create a gardener for life while making lasting memories together. And while you’re at it, you’ll also pass along the lesson of patience, a trait hard to come by in a time of instant gratification and ubiquitous devices.
So have fun together in the garden!