There is something so rewarding and a bit magical about pulling fresh food straight from the ground, washing it off, and biting into the fruits of your labor. Neither adults or children are immune to the lure of digging in the dirt, growing something with your own two hands, or the final preparations that go into your garden harvest. If you can put quality time with your kids and gardening together, even better. Giving them responsibilities in the garden and teaching them what to do and what not to do fosters a sense of ownership and pride for them that wont be soon forgotten. Here are some tips for making the best of gardening with your kids
Kid sized tools– Provide them with things like wheelbarrows, spades, shovels, rakes, and watering cans in a size that is made for little hands. This makes the job much easier (plus who can resist picking up these adorable tiny garden implements?) Then teach them to care for their tools by rinsing them off and putting them away instead of leaving them laying around in the dirt.
Give them an area of their own– or at least something for them to be responsible for in your garden. My son loves to water the plants, and help gather the vegetables as they are ripe. I even designated a basket for him that is kept by the backdoor, we grab it every time we head out to the garden. Sometimes there are only one or two items ready to be picked but that doesn’t diminish his pride one bit, carrying that basket in the house showing off his vegetables. This season I am going to let him pick out his own seeds, give him his own little plot, and let him be in charge of his own little corner of the world.
Set them up for success– Plant at least a few items that sprout quickly, and grow abundantly. Quick turnaround and bountiful harvest will spark excitement and make your child fall in love with gardening and keep them from becoming bored with it. Some things that are considered pretty simple to grow are; lettuce, bush beans, radishes, pumpkin, carrots, and potatoes. We have always had amazing luck with yellow squash, which we enjoy since we love to eat it cooked a variety of ways, or even fresh with ranch for dipping. A few flowers you may consider growing that are easy are; sunflowers, wildflowers, and nasturtiums.
While your child may not remember exactly what was planted, they will have wonderful and sweet memories of turning over spades of dirt alongside you, helping you water tender sprouts, and gathering the fruit of your joint labor. Don’t forget to take pictures, these days don’t last very long.