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Spring is here! What does that mean? It means we can finally start another wonderful gardening season! While I am thrilled and so looking forward to getting my hands dirty again, I think many of you are wondering how to get your kids to help you in the garden. How do you pass your love for gardening on to them?
You will find that getting smaller kids to help you is always easier than the teenagers, for example. And I think it is right for any activity. Not just in the garden.
Teenagers, though, can be “too cool” for house chores. (but we can find the ways to still make them help with some tasks in the garden) 😉
Another observation I have had is that the kids who spend a lot of time with electronic gadgets (phones, computers, play stations, etc.) seem to be harder to convince to help you.
They are “too busy”.
We still need to try and get them to learn some basic life skills. Do you agree?
Gardening, though some won’t consider it as a needed basic skill, is still a great opportunity to teach them about the food chain, how nature works, why we welcome some insects and birds to the garden, whereas the other ones can make us cry if you see them there 🙁
Well, no crying here today.
Gardening with kids
Gardening is fun! And gardening with kids can be even more fun!
It is a great learning activity, as I’ve already mentioned, and sometimes an eye-opener for us, the parents 🙂
So, where do you start?
If you haven’t started a garden yet, you might want to read this post on how to start your organic garden.
If you do have a garden, you can select a smaller site where your kiddo will be allowed to plant what they want (with your careful suggestions ;))
A square foot garden would probably be a good starting point, as you can teach math and play the math games at the same time.
- Square foot garden – a regular recommended size of 4 x 4 ft garden would probably too big for a small kid. Depending on the age, you may consider a 3 x 3 or even 2 x 3 ft raised bed. I would recommend having the grid installed on the top of it so it is easier for a child to identify the squares. If you need to build a new bed and prepare the soil, try to use either a pre-mixed organic soil or prepare the mix yourself. We use 2 part of compost, 1 part of coconut coir, and 1 part of perlite and vermiculite mixture.
- Container garden – if you don’t have a garden and the only thing you can dedicate for your kiddo’s garden is a container, that will work fine as well! There are so many fast-growing veggies and herbs that you can grow in a container. We will have the examples of the easy to grow plants further in the article, but it is worth mentioning the radishes or strawberries here as well! I am sure your children will love to harvest the strawberries they have grown themselves!
Plants for kids’ garden
It is always recommended to grow what you and your kids like eating. So, if your kid hates radishes, don’t plant radishes. If your kid is allergic to strawberries, don’t plant strawberries in their garden!
Also, your child’s garden doesn’t have to be a veggie or herb garden either. You might have a girl who would only be interested in growing some flowers. So, a few easy to grow annual plants can be planted on their own, or interplanted with herbs or veggies.
Depending on the size of the area you can dedicate for your children’s garden, the list of plants will be different.
If you have a few square feet to spare for their own garden, the following list of the easy to grow plants that also grow fast. Kids are not as patient as adults and won’t wait for 3 -4 years for asparagus grown from seed 😉
Here is a brief list of the plants for a square foot garden:
- veggies: radishes, green onions, lettuce, bell peppers (mini bell peppers are really cute), carrots (choose the rainbow type and your kids will be surprised every time they pull one from the ground :)), miniature cherry tomatoes, beets, bush beans and peas. If you have at least 4 square feet garden, you can even accommodate 6 corn plants in a grid. A bush zucchini or a pattypan plant can be great too. Just make sure your kid is wearing gloves as the plants are pric ky.
- herbs: basil has so many varieties of colours and flavours! It is my favourite herb along with cilantro and dill.
- flowers: marigolds are the easiest of all! And there are so many kinds of them! They are on the list of the beneficial companion plants as well, as they deter pests and attract beneficial insects. Isn’t it another great lesson to teach your kid? Nasturtium is another beneficial flower to grow in the garden. It is also an edible plant (leaves, flowers and seeds), though your child might not like the peppery taste. Sunflowers are also so cool to have in the garden (space-permitting) and are edible as well.
Kids gardening tools
Of course, you will need to equip your small gardener with the appropriate tools! Cute (or cool) boots are great for the fast-changing spring weather.
Gloves are a must! Yes, your child might want to get their hands dirty, and that is fine if they are working on their container garden.
However, depending on the area you live, you might want to keep them safe from the spiders or other insects’ bites.
It is another lesson to teach the kids – the safety and precaution. We don’t want to scare them. If they want to hold a ladybug in their hands, let them do that!
If a butterfly lands on their arms, ask them how many wings they have or to name the colours they see.
Remember what I said above?
Gardening with kids is fun!
Now, you may want to say: well, Nat, gardening with smaller kids might be fun. But what about the older kids or teenagers?
Well, we have made it work as well. And while it might not work for any teenager, it is worth trying 😉
So, how do you get your teenager to help you in the garden?
Now, because I only have boys in our house, I can tell mainly for the boys (and somewhat for the girls from my own experience helping my mom).
Our older son spends countless hours playing video games when he is home. I wouldn’t be able to interest him with helping us in the garden playing math or nature games. No brain games there.
However, I’ve used his muscles.
Yes, it takes some bribing in terms of having his favourite tomatoes and cucumbers planted for him, but it works.
It is a “free” workout for him as well. (Please don’t tell me your teenager would resist building muscles helping you in the garden!)
So, when we had yards of compost delivered to our driveway while working on our backyard transformation project last year, he helped us move them to the backyard.
Of course, he didn’t have to do it all at once.
Four to five loads a day was the maximum I would ask him to do.
It is four to five loads I didn’t have to do 😉
Was it worth my time and negotiations skills?
At the end of the day, he is the first one who runs to the kitchen to get the home-grown and homemade pickles!
How do you get a teenage girl to help you in the garden?
Of course, like with the boys, all girls are different.
I think I have inherited the love for gardening from my mom.
She didn’t have a veggie garden, but she had a beautiful flower garden! There were a few of her favourite perennial flowers “living” there. But she would let me help her choose a few annual plants when we went to buy the seedlings in the market.
We would then plant the seedlings in between the perennials together considering the colour combination and their bloom times.
Yes, her garden was blooming the whole season. As soon as the soil warmed up, and until the first frost.
So, how do you get your girl help you?
Ask her for a colour combination you want to go for this season. If your garden is in a specific colour scheme, maybe ask her to find a few new (to you) plants in the same colour scheme that you could add to your garden.
Or maybe she could conduct research on companion plants. Kids, nowadays, are great with technology. Your garden could become something they would do as their school project.
Or maybe she has a favourite or a new veggie she wants to try this season. Sometimes, you don’t even need to buy the seeds or plants as your gardening neighbour may have one to spare.
Every year we start a few more tomato or cucumber plants than we need!
This helps us to trade them with other gardening enthusiasts in our area.
Do you think you could do the same?
Do you think you could try some of these ideas to get your kids to help you in the garden?
Have you done anything else to interest your kids in the gardening? Don’t be a stranger, comment below and let other parents learn from your experience too 😉
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