Growing a garden can be a great way to get your children outside as well as give them a sense of accomplishment. When they see that their work is making the plants grow they are going to want to work in the garden all the time and they will learn some great skills that they carry on as an adult as well. Plus, they get to dig in the dirt and play with some water as well, which is always a plus for a child.
Whether you are planting a few flowers with your kids or taking on a full vegetable garden in your backyard, here are 5 tips to keep in mind when gardening with your kids.
Grow Easy and Fun Plants for Kids
Giving your kid the responsibility of a plant that takes a lot of care or time and effort is sort of setting them up for failure. If you want them to be responsible for certain plants, then give them something that you know is easy to take care of as well as fun to harvest. Try to pick out a plant that you know they can take care of by themselves or with little help from you so that you give them a little self esteem boost when it comes gardening.
For flowering plants, choose ones like sunflowers, which are a big hit when they get really big. Other flowers that are quite easy for beginners to take care of include nasturtium, pansies, and marigolds.
If you plan on doing a vegetable and fruit garden then let kids help with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins, and carrots. Letting a child garden with you can also be a good way to let them eat their fruits of their labor and introduce different ways to eat the fruits and vegetables they grow.
I know that my kids love picking the cherry tomatoes and watching their pumpkins grow nice and big over summer.
Get Your Kids Their Own Gardening Tools
Buy your kids their own age appropriate gardening tools and well as gardening gloves so that they don’t have to borrow yours. Buying them their own tools also ensures that they can handle them properly and lessen the risk of them hurting themselves with the tools.
Plus, it is fun to have your own gardening tools no matter if you are 3 years old or 13 years old. One work of advice is to buy real tools though for any child who will be doing serious work in the garden. The plastic gardening tools you find in the toy section are cute for a toddler under the age of 3, but if you are planning on letting them actually dig and hoe and everything else in the garden, buy them some real kid sized tools that work.
Make Gardening As Fun As Possible
There is going to be some aspects of gardening that a child may not like or not want to do, but you should still make it as fun as possible to encourage your child. Let them get dirty and cause a little bit of a mess. Don’t worry when they splash too much water while watering their plants or fling dirt a little too far. If you constantly harp on them, gardening is not going to be fun and they aren’t going to want to do it at all.
Make gardening a learning time as well as a fun time to spend with you outside taking in nature and being active.
Your Kids Don’t Need a Huge Garden
You don’t have to have a lot space in your yard to garden with your child. In fact you can use potted plants or a rectangular planter on your porch to teach kids how to garden. Some people avoid trying to grow a family garden because they think they don’t have the room, but you may just be surprised at how much fun you can have with potted plants and small planters.
When it comes to younger kids, smaller areas can actually be better than a big huge garden. Instead you could consider simply giving them a small space off to the side or make their own small bed in which they are responsible for the plants.
Make Gardening Into a Regular Habit
Make sure that you are teaching your child that plants need care on a regular basis if they are going to grow and flourish. You can make gardening a regular routine where every morning you check on your plants to see what needs to be done.
This could be something that you do right after breakfast or make another time in the day to go outside and check on the garden, but do it on a regular basis to not only get your child outside every day but to let them take responsibility for the plants so they can feel the accomplishment when it comes time to harvest.
My husband has grown a garden in our backyard for the past 8 years and my kids simply love helping him dig the dirt to plant the seeds, pulling the weeds and getting their watering cans and watering the plants. The best part though is watching them harvesting the vegetables and being so proud that they had a hand in them growing. Plus, it gets them outside just about every day and once they are already outside it is so much easier to get them to want to play outside and stay outside rather than going back in and sitting inside all day.