Gardening with children is magical. Not only do they get to learn about where their food comes from, but they get to enjoy the earth by getting down and dirty! Just watch to make sure they don’t eat it. Capturing your child’s attention to join you in the garden is an easy and beneficial task. It is a great way for them to develop a love for plants, trees, and it encourages healthy food choices.
But how do you get started? How do you introduce your child to gardening. If you already have a love for gardening, your child will model your actions. They will start showing interest at a very young age. There is no need to wait, let them jump in whenever they start to show an interest.
Let them play with seeds
Whether you buy seeds online or at the store, let them help you choose which seeds you will plant. Once you have the seeds in hand, let them help plant the seeds. Set some seeds aside and talk about the differences. Put a damp paper towel in a plastic baggie and set the seed on top and seal shut. Tape it to a sunny window and make note of the changes every couple of days. My kids were amazed when the plant started sprouting from the tiny seed.
Give them their own tools
Everyone knows that you need the right tools to get a job done. Think about getting a set of kid’s tools that are perfect for little hands to use. The following links are affiliate links. This Turtle Tote Set is the perfect starter pack to get them going. Gloves and a watering can could come in handy too. If you do not have the space available to set up a traditional garden, use these flower pots. They are lighter than the traditional terra cotta pots and will not break if they are dropped. Supplying your child with the appropriate tools gives them the confidence, power, and responsibility to take pride in their garden.
Let them plant seeds
By allowing them to plant the seeds, they take ownership of those plants. For example, my daughter found a lone seed in the kitchen. Honestly, I don’t know where it came from. She was super excited to plant it. She dug a little hole, dropped it in, watered the seed every day and waited. She even instructed her brothers and baby sister to not touch her seed. Then one day she went to check on her little seed and her little seed had sprouted.
She was beaming. She told everyone she saw about her little seed that grew and grew. It was the sweetest thing. She took ownership of that little seed and couldn’t wait to see it mature into a plant.
Let your child have their own gardening space
It is important to delegate a spot in your yard that is just for your child to garden. It can be overwhelming for a child to be in charge of a large space. You also might not want them to dig up all the plants. Keep it simple by narrowing down a small spot for them to be in charge of. If you do not have the yard space, use containers to garden. Whatever gardening method you choose, be very clear with your child that they are responsible for that space and they are not to touch the other plants without your permission.
What should we grow?
Foster your child’s opinion by letting them choose what they would like to grow. Some easy to grow plants include sunflowers, peas, corn, carrots, and tomatoes. Since children like to put things in their mouths, especially while exploring the garden, stick to edible plants only. If your mini botanist would like to plant flowers, edible plants are an option. Johnny Jump-Ups, Marigolds, and Impatiens all have a lovely flavor and can easily be incorporated into meals. Freezing flowers in ice cube trays are a fun way to infuse water and it keeps your child hydrated during the long days spent in the garden.
Teach them to pull weeds, water, feed, and harvest the plants that are growing in their space. Always stay close to lend a helping hand. Take pictures of your progress to show them where they started and how far they have come. Their involvement in the garden should be encouraged so they are able to reap the benefits of a full season of gardening from seed to harvest.
Caring for other living things creates compassionate human beings. While they watch and wait for their plants to grow and blossom they will learn to be patient. Out of all of these shining qualities, the one thing I hold dear to my heart are all of the precious memories I have of my children discovering the garden. I hope that you take the time to blossom a gardener in your family.
What are your favorite seeds to plant with young children?