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Gardening With Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

Gardening with Kids 10 Tips for Growing Together

My earliest gardening memories are with my grandparents in Indiana and Idaho. We did simple things together, like planting flowers and picking beans, but those memories have stayed with me. I wanted to have those same types of memories with my children. Here are ten tips that made involving my five kids in gardening tasks a positive experience. Use these ideas to plant the seeds of a shared love for gardening and nurture a deeper connection with your children.

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

1. Give ownership

Let each child take charge of a small area or container so they can have ownership and see results from their actions. This blog post teaches the basic steps for container gardening.

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together
“sunflowers growing do not dig in this spot”

2. Choose easy-to-grow crops

Plant vegetables with big seeds, such as beans and sunflowers, that are easy for small hands to handle. Choose crops with the shortest time to harvest, like radishes and peas, for quick results. Check a local planting guide (I have one in my shop) to ensure that you’re planting at the right time so that the seeds will sprout and grow well. This blog post lists ten easy-to-grow crops.

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

3. Grow things they like to eat

Research the crops your family enjoys eating and determine the best time and method to plant them. Do you love strawberries? Are carrots and broccoli favorites? They are excellent choices for kids’ gardens when planted at the right time. Growing their favorite foods can make gardening more exciting and rewarding for children. 

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

4. Encourage and trust them  

The tasks will vary depending on age and ability, but it’s essential to encourage kids to do whatever they can in the garden. We often learn more from our mistakes than our successes. It might be messier or take longer, but they will feel a sense of accomplishment. Simple jobs for young children include dumping, watering, and planting.

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

As children get older, look for ways to show trust in their abilities and give them more complicated jobs. They will surprise you! And most importantly, they will feel proud of their contributions. 

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

5. When you’re gardening with kids, be positive and make it enjoyable

Focus on the positive in their actions instead of just pointing out mistakes. Try to make it a game. If there are weeds, challenge everyone to pull 20 and “see how quickly we can finish!” Keep gardening sessions short. It’s better to do a little bit each day than to have long sessions where they get tired and worn out.

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

6. Make gardening with kids a sensory experience

Let children experience the sensation of dirt in their hands and the strong-smelling scents of herbs like basil and mint and flowers like sweet peas. Found a worm? Watch it wriggle on your hand for a moment before gently returning it to the soil and observing it burrow into the earth. Encourage children to listen to the sounds of nature, such as birds chirping or leaves rustling, and to observe the colors and textures of various plants.

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

7. Incorporate their interests

If your child is interested in science, consider getting a compost thermometer. They can use it to monitor the temperature of the compost as it heats up and learn about the science behind it. In-bed vermicomposting bins are a simple way to teach your children about the amazing world of worms. Through the years, the majority of my kids’ science projects were garden-related.

Budding artists can create plant markers using rocks or draw pictures of the plants as they grow. If they enjoy photography, encourage them to document the gardening process through photos. Incorporating each child’s interests into gardening can make gardening with children more enjoyable and meaningful.

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

8. Enjoy the harvests

I disliked carrots until I tried one fresh from my grandpa’s garden. Encourage your children to taste everything and “practice” liking it. Find simple recipes you can make with your children that use the garden’s produce, such as a fresh salad with lettuce and tomatoes, fresh-squeezed orange juice, or a stir-fry with freshly harvested peas and carrots. 

Gardening with Kids: 10 Tips for Growing Together

9. Find teaching moments while you’re working together

Beyond just learning about the origin of their food and a love for nature, life lessons are everywhere in the principles of gardening – delayed gratification, the law of the harvest, the importance of daily actions, changing seasons, and so much more! Teaching about the birds and the bees becomes natural when you are actually teaching about birds and bees. 

Working together in the garden helps teach valuable lessons
Working together in the garden helps teach valuable lessons

10. Marvel at the miracles

Kneel and point out the miracle of green sprouts emerging from the soil when gardening with your kids. Let them experience the wonder of pulling carrots from the ground that began as tiny seeds. Pause and marvel together at blossoms, insect eggs, cocoons, butterflies, and rainbows. If you spot something interesting, point it out. Before long, they will start making their own discoveries and sharing them with you.

Let kids experience the wonder of pulling a carrot from the ground
Let kids experience the wonder of pulling a carrot from the ground

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