One of our favorite activities in the spring and summer is gardening with the kids. We’ve had half-yard size gardens and container gardens, but no matter how big or small they were they always had one thing in common: they were great conversation starters. Teenager having a rough day? Have him help you pull weeds. Eight year old bored and looking for something to do? Check out what’s blooming or growing. There’s something cathartic about getting your hands dirty in the garden’s fertile soil. If you’re thinking about gardening with your kids, check out the tips below before heading outside to dig up the lawn or you might miss the most important things about gardening altogether.
How to Garden with Kids
Know What Grows
Before rushing out to the gardening center to purchase every plant in sight, do a bit of research about what grows best in your area and in the type of soil you have in your yard. While you’ll definitely want to add specialty soil to the area to help things grow, there’s a big difference between what will grow in clay-like soil vs. sandy soil. Take the time to figure it out so that you can buy plants or grow seeds that will actual take and thrive in your garden. This is huge in keeping your child’s interest in maintaining the garden!
Make a Plan and Give Him His Own Spot
Break out the colored pencils and graph paper and plan out what you’re going to plant where. Even container gardens can be layered to allow for multiple types of herbs and plants. Give your child a chance to share his input and, if there’s room, create a small section of the garden just for his plants. A tomato plant, some peppers, and a sunflower of his own will make gardening time all the more special.
Invest in some basic gardening tools, a knee pad, and some gardening gloves. A floppy brimmed hat is also a must for gardening on hot summer days. Make sure your child his own set of kid-size gardening tools and gloves, so that he can properly help. For younger gardeners, the desire to dig and explore the dirt with a spade might be overwhelming, so make sure you have that separate digging area just for fun.
Be Observant, Inquisitive, and Patient
Gardening with your child is about so much more than growing plants. It’s about examining the bright red ladybug that lands on the sunflower’s tall stem. It’s watching the worm burrow back under the soil and discussing why worms are so good for the garden. It’s watching the honey bee pollinate the flowers and excitedly pointing out the pollen baskets on the back of her legs. Take your time in the garden. Make it a special time of day with your child – no matter how old he is. Observe, inquire, and have patience as he learns about gardening and the world around him.
If you rush to harvest the plants without taking the time to watch them grow, you will have missed the most beautiful part of gardening with your child. As with most things in life, it’s all about the process. Happy gardening!