Gardening With Children

Gardening with children can be a wonderful experience for both you and your child. Children have a natural enthusiasm for growing flowers and vegetables and if nurtured, their interest will become a lifelong, learning journey.

If you do not want little hands and feet helping you in your garden, designate a small corner to your children. Children can easily be overwhelmed, so it’s best to use small spaces. If space is limited, allow children to grow plants in strawberry jars or a big pot. Other options for pots include old, outgrown toys. Play dump trucks and sandboxes make great containers for children to plant in. Theses spaces should be left to children to plant, weed, and water. Children will learn valuable lessons, such as a plant’s need for water, and what happens when weeds get out of control, if left to tend their garden on their own.

There are many experiments that can be done in the garden. Children can watch reactions to light. Two of the same plant will grow differently in sun and shade. Children can also experiment with soil types, plant varieties, and fertilizing.

The garden is a wonderful place to observe nature and where many fascinating creatures can be found. Your child can set up a toad house using a broken pot. Make sure there are no sharp edges for your child to cut himself on, turn the pot so it forms a dark "cave" and rest it on soil near their garden. Toads love the cool, dark spaces left by these pots and will soon take up residency in them. Children can learn observation skills by watching their toads and the rest of their garden. The first and most important observation skill; how to be still and watch. They can also learn about the food chain, animal diversity, beneficial insects, and much more.

There are many plants that children love to grow. Here are some of our favorites.

Pole beans are great fun. These must have a support system to climb on. Let the kids make a structure using branches and stakes, plant the beans around the outside perimeter of the structure and as the beans grow and climb the frame it will become their own living fort. Let them pick the beans and help cook them for supper and watch their faces light up with pride.

Cherry tomatoes are a favorite with kids. The sweet varieties taste like candy when picked and eaten warm from the sun.

Zinnias, sunflowers and marigolds are also great fun for kids. They are brightly colored and surprisingly resilient. Kids love collecting seeds from these plants to use the following year and the rest can be used to feed the birds.

As your children tend their small plots they will experience and share your love for gardening, carrying this pleasure with them for the rest of their lives.

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