Children and Gardening

March 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening

Tal_Menashe_-_students_in_the_garden

Image via Wikipedia

Children are curious, and gardening with children can provide a great opportunity to teach them about where food comes from as well as giving them a sense of responsibility and pride when they successfully grow vegetables of their own. It’s also a great way to encourage kids to eat healthier snacks–they will be eager to eat food they’ve grown! But how do you garden with children? These simple tips will have you and your child digging in the dirt in no time.

First, you and your child should decide what you want to plant. Since the child will be actively involved in the gardening, be sure to give him or her some choice in the matter. Consider planting a garden that will engage all the senses; flowers that are colorful and smell wonderful as well as delicious fruits and vegetables. Strawberries, peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers are great options for children to plant. Marigolds are hardy, and a trellis for a vine-growing plant can be fun to watch. Zinnias and sunflowers are big and colorful, and will attract butterflies. Herbs are a great choice for children, too. They grow quickly, which is rewarding for the impatient young child.

Plot the garden in a spot that’s easily accessible for the kids, and encourage them to help with the soil preparation as well as the planting and maintenance. The garden doesn’t have to be a traditional rectangle; allow the child’s imagination to take flight and choose any shape. If your yard won’t easily sustain a garden, consider using large, colorful pots. The child can plant in the pots and decorate them. Or, if you can’t handle the idea of a disorderly garden, consider allowing the child his or her own small plot to do with what he or she wishes. If you’ve got the space, create a maze, or you could plant tall plants around the perimeter of the garden to give it a secluded feel.

To encourage the children to work in their garden, buy special child-sized tools. Rakes, spades, gloves, and hoes all come in smaller sizes, and it’s easier for the child to use properly-sized tools. Be sure to present the garden’s maintenance not as a chore, but a joy. Time to water the garden? Use the sprinkler and allow the children to play in the water. Provide old cups and spoons to encourage the kids to play in the soil. Part of the fun of gardening for children is getting dirty! With these tips, you will find yourself and your children enjoying the bounty of your harvest and having a great time outdoors, together.

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