Gardening with children can be a really fun and educational family project. Children and nature go hand in hand and gardening gives so much more than just flowers, fruits or vegetables.
With a garden, children get fresh air and sunshine. They learn to plan and implement that plan, the value of work and experience the fruit of their labor in a tangible, rewarding way. They get first-hand experience with insect, amphibian and reptile species, along with learning about various birds, pollinators and the many mammals that will flock to their garden for a meal or mid-morning snack.
Children naturally love to dig in the dirt and enjoy watering the plants with their own special watering can or playing with the hose. I believe their natural curiosity is perfectly suited to the wonders of gardening.
For food and play
A garden becomes a fantasy world for the child (and parent) that plays in it. Fairies and dragons, magic fountains, arches and paths and well-designed gardens can create the perfect spring, summer and fall landscapes in which to lose oneself for hours. Add some seating and a table and various structures and you have the perfect spot for picnics and reading and tea times. Bring along some sketchbooks and pencils to try your hand at illustrating its details for impromptu art studies. But perhaps the most important benefit of spending days in the garden is the time you spend with each other working together, planting, harvesting, talking, visiting and more.
Whether your garden is just some small pots to grow a few lovely things or it becomes something that poets would write about, growing something seems to give everyone a universal sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Plant a garden with your kids– So where do you start?
Start with something both you and your child love and that will be easy for you to grow.
Buy seeds and seed starting supplies or purchase already established plants. Remember, you want this to be an ENJOYABLE experience for the both of you. For example, sunflowers are a fun “wow-factor” flower to grow for beginners and make lovely table arrangements. If you are going to grow fruits or vegetables, start with some of your child’s favorites, like green beans or strawberries. A fun mid-summer fruit to grow is pumpkins. If you start them in July, they will be ready by October for carving at Halloween-time!
Decide where you will plant your garden and prepare the space.
Research together where the best spot will be to plant your new garden and prepare the space for your plants. Let your child dig with you, plant the seeds and water the ground. Talk about the soil, what you are planting, what it will become and any living creatures you come across.
Decide which days will be garden days to tend your garden.
Pick 2-3 days a week to tend to your garden together. Check to see if your plants need watering, if weeds need to be pulled, etc… As your plants grow, you will begin to see different insects and animals come around. Learn about them together!
When the time comes, enjoy your harvest and start planning for next gardening season!
As your harvest comes in, enjoy it! Did you know that a sunflower can be roasted just like corn on the cob? If you grew cucumbers, why not try your hand at pickling a jar or two. Make a pretty dried flower arrangement or dry some of your herbs to use in soups throughout the winter. And then, order seed catalogs and plan for another garden next year!