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Family Matters

13 Ways to Get Your Child Gardening

May 1st, 2015

By Fran Sorin

  1. Show your kids how much you love gardening. Even if you’re a beginner, don’t worry. You can learn with your children. It’s your attitude that’s going to inspire your kids as much as anything else initially.

  2. Make spending time outdoors a priority. It can a fun time- building forts and tree houses, chasing toads, pulling dandelion weeds (who can get that root out?), and playing barefoot on the grass are all tools for getting kids more connected to nature. When kids are young, it’s especially important for them to take the lead. Or you can have some comfortable chairs and a hammock in a shady area where your child can do her homework, read, draw, or just sit and relax  surrounded by the beauty of nature.

  3. Take your kids on nature walks, to visit public parks, local arboretums, and community gardens as family outings.  If you live close to a city, expose them to city parks. Pack a picnic lunch. Turn these events into special times that will be remembered. Also, use them as times to teach your kids about slowing down and awakening all of their senses to the beauty around them. You can walk through an arboretum passing by trees and flowers OR you can slow down, walk up to a tree with your child and have her look closely at the bark and touch it to feel its texture and embrace the tree.

  4. Take a trip to your local garden center together. Let her spend time going up and down the aisles and asking as many questions as she wants. (yes, you’ll need patience). If she just has to ‘have’ that rose bush (even if you weren’t planning to buy it but you do have a space where you can plant it), let her buy it –establishing up front that this will be her special bush.

  5. Create a small butterfly garden together. It’s as easy as planting a butterfly bush and a few native perennials that attract butterflies…like Joe Pye Weed, Russian Sage, and Black Eyed Susan. Your child will flock to that area to keep an eye out for butterflies.

  6. Encourage your child to take a pair of pruners and cut flowers from your garden that can be brought indoors or given to neighbors as bouquets

  7. Let your child select  4 or 5 easy to grow veggies or cutting flowers they want to grow from seed. I think it’s great fun perusing through catalogues together and letting them dog ear the varieties that appeal to them.  Suggestions- sunflowers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, cosmos, lettuce mixes

  8. Help your child sow certain veggie seeds – like tomatoes- in egg/yogurt containers— in sunny location indoors to get a jump start.  I have never met a kid who doesn’t love doing this.

  9. When the weather is warm enough, select a small sunny location close to the house- or if you already have a veggie/flower cutting garden- allocate a certain amount of space to be your child’s designated area.

  10. Spend time building organic, rich soil together for their plot. Show them the difference between sandy, rocky, clay like soil and how you’re going to work together to make the soil for their garden rich and crumbly. It is really important that your child feels free getting dirty and playing with the different types of soil. By the time you and she have finished developing organic, rich soil for her garden, she’s going to feel VERY excited.

  11. Make seed planting fun and a learning experience BUT focus on the process rather than just the end result.  Your child’s garden plot doesn’t need to meet your standards. If it has weaving rows, rather than straight ones, no big deal. Let it go.

  12. As far as maintenance, watering , and weeding, do some behind the scene work to keep things healthy – if need be. When my kids first got involved in gardening, I urged them to get out and water and weed. Sometimes it worked- other times not. Don’t turn gardening into yet another ‘task’ that your kids need to tend to. If you have to do a bit of behind the scene maintenance, until they are firmly turned onto gardening, my suggestion is to do it.

  13. Celebrate your child’s gardening and their gardening success once flowers bloom and harvests begin. The rewards will come when your child observes seeds germinating, fruits forming and flowers blossoming.  Once your child picks her first juicy ripe tomato off the vine or snips some lettuce cuttings for the salad for dinner or cuts a few sunflowers and place them in a vase, the magic of gardening will be instilled in her. It is important to make a big deal about the miracle of nature and how when we work hand-in-hand with nature, beautiful things happen.

Fran is the author of Digging Deep, and is passionate about keeping children interested and inspired, and instilling a love of nature at an early age.

Tags: advice, kids

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