I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do now that the weather is starting to finally get warm is to think about what I might plant in my garden this year! From veggies, to herbs, to flowers, I love planning things out and figuring the time frames that things need to get planted.
Gardening with your kids can be such a fun and rewarding experience for everyone. Last year, my son, who was 4, was ALL about helping me. Once we got things planted, he was mesmerized with checking the growth everyday. When there actually started to be some things that could be picked, he LOVED being able to show everyone the things he grew with me in the garden. And of course, my daughter loved all of the flowers that eventually showed up. I love being able to share this hobby of mine with them, and I really love that they seem to enjoy it so much! Here are some tips to garden with your kids…
Know when to plant your garden
First off, this is a wonderful resource to make sure you know when to plant the items in your garden that you may be considering. I found this great resource over at IAmThatLady.com and it helps so much depending on your climate and the region where you live in the United States. You definitely don’t want to go through all of the work of planning this garden with your child and than end up planting it too early or late and not being able to harvest all of your goodies. That would be heartbreaking!
Choose plants that are easy for kids to grow
Next, you’re going to want to make sure that the things you choose to grow with your children are “Quick Growers” and are relatively easy to grow. Kids tend to be a little impatient when it comes to waiting for the garden to grow. You are definitely more than welcome to have a little “Mom Section” of your garden with some more obscure plant varieties, but it’s a great idea to make sure you have a majority of the garden that the kids will be helping with be quick growing items to give them a little instant gratification. If you’re unsure what may work well when planting a garden with the kids, TheEducatorsSpinOnIt.com gave some great ideas for some fast-growing veggies. And don’t forget some strawberries! They are quick (and early harvested) growers, as well!
For veggies, some great ones to start out with for the kids would be lettuce, radishes, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, green beans, potatoes, and herbs. Herbs are GREAT because with the right light and water, they tend to grow FAST. Kids love to see their hard work pay off! Let them help to pick what you will plant, with a little guidance, of course. We search for a lot of our veggie and herb plants at Farmer’s Markets in the spring and I always take my son with me (and soon my daughter now that she’s getting older and understands a bit more) to help pick things out. He may not fully understand everything we’re getting, but I take time to explain what we’ll do with it and the things that will grow from the plants that he can have later. And with herbs, I love telling him how I use the different parts of many of the plants to cook many of the meals that he eats every day! I’m a huge herb lover!
Decide if you’ll be planting seeds or plants
Another way to make it a little easier for the kiddos if they are just starting out, is to buy plants in the spring for your herbs, fruits, and veggies and plant them immediately. You can also start planting seeds in containers inside when it’s still pretty cold out. This can save some money since you’ll be starting with seeds instead of getting plants that have already been grown. It will also help the children see how much work goes into planting a garden WAY before it’s nice enough to actually plant it! In our house, though, I just don’t have the time or space to start the garden earlier with seeds in the house, so plants from the Farmer’s Market it is! Once the kids are a little older and can really pitch in and contribute more, I think this would be a great way to get them excited earlier in the spring for contributing to the family garden! We do spend more time with seeds when it comes to some of the herbs and flowers we plant, though. Some of these things are being grown in more of a container and raised flower bed area instead of in the actual garden, so we have a bit more control over starting them out. The kids love to plant those seeds and watch to see when they finally spout through the soil!
Gardening with your kids helps them learn about their food
I really love how gardening gives kids a better understanding of how the environment works and the cycles of nature and the seasons. Growing things helps them see how natural resources are used and it also provokes more efficient and less wasteful practices with the food that we already have in the house, too. I know my son is way more critical of who isn’t eating all of their veggies when he just spent the better part of the summer season making sure they made it to harvest in perfect condition! I just love seeing that!
It also helps my kids understand where some of the food they eat really comes from. Seeing what they are eating and how the plant grows really gives them great life skills that will help them in the future. Not everything just comes from the grocery store on a whim and much of our food that we eat comes from gardening all year long! Things that we harvest in the summer and fall end up getting canned and used for consumption during the winter, as well. Which is a great life lesson.
Let them get dirty
Next, you have to let them get dirty! It may be a bit of an anxiety-driven day for you when they are running around with dirt under their nails and mud in their hair from watering their newly planted veggies, but it’s all part of the experience. You can’t have one without the other so get ready because everyone is going to get a little dirty when it comes to gardening!
Make sure you give them a little responsibility, too. Watering can be a fun part of the family’s day, but make sure they are the ones that understand that things need to get watered and they have to help out. My son loves helping water everything or getting a sprinkler set up to make sure the garden is properly hydrated. And in the heat of summer, this is a daily chore! But… I always make sure to have a little fun with it, as well. There may or may not be some splashing going on with some wet little people running around by the end of our daily watering routine! 🙂
Get creative when marking your plants
There are TONS of cute little ideas to help to mark your plants. I love these two Rock Painting ideas, one that came from Adventure-In-A-Box.com and the other from GardenTherapy.ca. We are all about painting crafts here with the kiddos, and these are just absolutely adorable! They will need some adult help to get these looking like the pictures above, but what a great idea to mark your garden.
If you’re looking for something a little quicker and a bit easier for the kiddos to help with, just grab some extra paint stirrers the next time you’re at a hardware store, and get busy painting! LivingWellSpendingLess.com gives a great tutorial on how to color-coordinate however you want, write the name of the veggie on the stick with puffy fabric paint, and voila! You have some great garden markers!
Add some fun accessories for gardening with your kids
Finally, check out some of these fun things you can grab for the kiddos to make sure they are getting everything out of helping you with the garden this year!
I love being able to spend time with the kids outside during the summer and I also love being able to multi-task and get a lot of gardening in! And now that the kids are older, they always want to help water and take care of things. I can’t wait until they get even a little bit older and can help me pick out things they’d like to grow themselves. It’s such a great way to teach them about how to provide for their families and how they can help. I hope you have tons of fun in your adventures gardening with your kids!
Do you do any gardening with your kids? What do you focus on? What do they love helping with? Comment below and give us the tips that make gardening with the kids tons of fun! 🙂