Gardening with Kids

Gardening with kids has a number of benefits and effects on you, your children and your family life. We all know the sense of self accomplishment that comes from having planted, nurtured and harvested our own vegetables and flowers, just think of the effect that this sense of accomplishment will have on your child. Add to that the knowledge gained by learning that all bugs are not bad and that green beans don’t grow in a casserole! Exposing children to the life cycle of the garden helps them to understand the ways that nature moves through the year. From the excitement of looking through the seed catalogs that arrive in January to the harvesting of popcorn or pumpkins in the fall, there is something to be learned year around. Oh, and did we mention that it’s a great way to spend time with the children and maybe learn something for and about yourself along the way?

 

Organic gardening with kids is, in our opinion, the only way to go. Chemicals and children just don’t mix. Besides, you are growing something that your whole family will eat. Why take a chance of spoiling the healthful aspects of growing your own fruits and vegetables by spraying them with chemicals?

We all know that children at various ages have different attention spans. For that reason you should mix in plants that have varying planting to harvest times. Plants like radishes that can be ready to harvest in as little as 21 days can be used with peas which take 60 days. Carrots mature in 75 days or they can be picked earlier as "baby" carrots and corn in 90 days to show immediate, mid and long term planning and results to children. You can also grow fun plants for kids like spaghetti squash, sunflowers, pumpkins, purple beans and yard-long or asparagus beans.

Click here for a few fun vegetables to grow

Container gardening is another way of gardening for kids. If you don’t have a lot of room, make up a container that contains "their" garden in a scale that they can relate to.There are a number of ways that you can combine instant gratification with the wonder of seeing a plant poke its first leaves through the soil. Planting the seed indoors for later transplanting is one. Purchasing started plants such as tomatoes and other plants that have a long seed to harvest time is another. Corn and bean seed can be pre-soaked overnight to speed their germination.

Gardening with kids doesn’t need to be limited to outdoors and the summertime. Fun growing projects include growing carrot tops by placing the top of the carrot that usually is cut off and discarded in a shallow dish of water; growing sweet potato vines by placing 3 or 4 toothpicks in a sweet potato and suspending it in a tumbler or jar of water; or growing an avocado from seed the same way. You can even grow sprouts of various plants such as alfalfa, radishes, beets or beans for adding to your salads.

There are also many books written about gardening with kids that are available. We've selected a few that your child might be interested in. Visit our page "Children's Gardening books" for some selections.

Any way you plant it, gardening with kids gives them a sense of accomplishment, the knowledge of where our food comes from, exposure to the joys and vagaries of nature, skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives, and most importantly, memories that you and your child will cherish forever.

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