I don’t know about you, but after this long and tenacious winter, I look forward to getting outdoors as soon as the weather is warmer. Most kids love the natural world and what better way to introduce them to the wonders of nature than with a garden. Planting and watching things grow is rewarding, satisfying and good exercise. Don’t know where to begin? There are many wonderful resources and websites with specific tips and ideas for gardening with children. Before I list some of these sites, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Keep things simple. You don’t have to dig up your entire yard to reap the benefits of gardening. Start with a small raised bed or a large container or two.
2. Try fast growing crops such as lettuces, chives, radishes, spinach, herbs and the like.
3. Let your kids have a say in what they grow. If you’re trying to encourage them to eat more veggies, let them pick the ones they would like to try. I’ll bet they get excited about tasting them once they see them pop up in the garden.
4. Make weeding and watering part of the daily routine. That way you will keep the unwanted weeds under control and ensure that the seeds get a fair chance at sprouting. Always weed when soil is moist to avoid damaging roots of tender plants.
Make it fun! See whose seeds sprout first, whose veggies grow fastest, are tallest, etc. When it comes time to harvest, let the kids plan a meal using the fruits – and veggies – they grew.
Here are some great gardening sites to get you started:
Gardening with Children from Earth Easy
Ten Tips on Gardening with Kids from the American Community Gardening Association
Gardening with Children from the BBC This site tells you how to compost, cultivate earth worms, use beneficial insects for pollination and has many child-friendly activities related to gardening and the outdoors.
Stimulating Imagination in the Garden from Kids Gardening
My First Garden from the University of Illinois