Posted By: Michelle Kuehler /
The weather is warming up and children are raring to get outside to play games like hide-and-go-seek, cops and robbers and tag, but gardening can be just as much fun. Why not give them a place to learn about gardening and the earth? Gardening with your children can be a lot of fun and you might learn a thing or two, too!
Kid Friendly Design
Give your kids their own space to garden by designating a small plot or by utilizing the sandbox, if they have grown out of it. Discuss with your child where their space should be. Explain a plant’s need for water, sun and good soil and make sure that they will be able to easily access their garden. You may also want to create paths through your garden, designating a walking trail for your children so they do not step on your garden. Children also love little hideouts where they can play games with their friends or play hide-and-go-seek from their parents. Consider installing a “gardener’s shed” playhouse, outdoor teepee or growing weeping trees.
Planting for Fun
Start plants from seed to teach your kids about the growth process and care of growing plants. Take your children with you to the nursery and let them pick out a few seeds, even if you wouldn’t plant them. While at the nursery, pick out a few small tools for them to use. Also, make sure not to plant any plants that may be poisonous and never use pesticides in your children’s garden. Use organic products like Grow Big 521, an all-purpose fertilizer that increases resistance to pests and disease. Then, pick out some plants that incorporate the senses and sense of excitement.
Taste: Plant veggies that your child likes to eat, or may learn to like to eat. Bite-sized veggies that can be picked straight off the plant, like cherry tomatoes, are great choices for picky eaters. Beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, radishes and zucchini are good choices because they are easy to grow and grow quickly. Lemon Verbena is also a great choice to be put into lemonade and ice cream and basil and parsley are great for quick grazing.
Smell: Engage your child’s senses of smell with fragrant plants. Try lemon verbena, roses, pineapple salvia, mint and honeysuckle.
Sight: Choose plants with dramatic flowers or large leaves for some extra excitement! Try planting elephant ear for huge leaves, sunflowers for large flowers or zinnias and poppies for bright flowers. Grow plants and set out water dishes to attract birds and butterflies and set out on a mini sight-seeing trip. Also, plant flowers with dramatic blooming times, such as four o’ clocks and evening primrose. Allow your children to grab a front row seat to watch them bloom.
Touch: Children are very hands on, so choose plants that appeal to this sense, such as lamb’s ear and mimosa. Lamb’s ear is very soft and feels ‘furry’ and mimosa will react to touch. Just make sure to control mimosa because it can be very invasive.
Encourage crafts during the growing period to maintain interest. Have them make plant labels, a sign for their garden or custom-made stepping stones. Allow your kids to help you garden and give them a hand if part of their garden is ailing. When it is time to harvest, allow them help to collect the bounty, cook with you and allow them to use plants like pumpkins and potatoes for jack-o-lanterns, stamps and other crafts. Teaching your children about all of the work it takes to bring food to the table from a seed will encourage them to respect the earth and enjoy nature.