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Family Time: Gardening with Kids

My kids (now almost 7 and 3) have both been involved in gardening since they were infants!  They loved it then, even just sitting in a bassinet in the fresh air.  They progressed to toddlers who liked to pick bugs and pull weeds in between taking bites of strawberries, herbs, and even the marigold petals!  These days my first grader is an excellent junior gardener, and her little brother loves to dig holes in the dirt and transport mulch in his kid-size wheelbarrow.

Gardening together as a family has encouraged them to try and love pretty much any vegetable we can grow.  They feel the pride of a job well done when they’ve planted seeds or transplanted seedlings, and get excited to harvest (and EAT) what they’ve helped to grow!

Being together in the fresh air and dirt is also a great learning opportunity!  You’ve got your hands all over science, from worms, to minerals in the soil, to teaching the parts of plants and flowers.

If you don’t have the time or space to have a garden bed, try container gardening or joining a local community garden.  Growing plants in pots is super simple you can learn quite a bit from other gardeners in a community garden!

Here are some of my favorite tips for gardening with kids:

1 – Keep it fun!  Kids, especially the youngest have shorter attention spans, so try not to get frustrated when they want to do other things.

2 – Make it into a game.  Who can pull 10 weeds the fastest?

3 – Give them their own bed to tend.  If not a whole bed, then a planter or pot where they get to choose what to grow or even just to have a place to dig and get dirty without disturbing the plants.

4 – Give them tools that work.  Gloves, a small hand spade, a kid size wheelbarrow, and watering can or spray bottle (they LOVE to water plants) allows them to feel like they can really contribute.

5 – Let them do it.  Kids love to be hands on and they will feel pride in what they accomplish.  While their work may not be up to adult standards, that’s ok!  You might just have to go back out to the garden later to do some “behind the scenes” work.

Erica Bretz
Author: Erica Bretz