Gardening + Kids = FUN!
As a mom of 3 eager little gardening helpers, I’m here to tell you that WHAT you grow with your kids is far less important than HOW you grow it. So let’s get the ‘what’ out of the way – tomatoes, beans and cucumbers grow quickly to satisfy those microscopic attention spans, and are also infinitely pick-and-eatable from the vine. They’re easy to start, forgiving to tuggy little hands, super delicious and packed with vitamin C and fiber.
Teaching kids to connect with their earth, understand the scientific process of plant growth, appreciate that creating good, whole food takes time, and see tangible results for time spent are only a few benefits that come from gardening with your kids. No yard? No problem. No deck? No excuse! A single pot and a bright sunny window can get you going. Whether you’re planting a plant or an acre, try these tips to keep the smiles radiating like the sunshine that feeds your garden
1. Plan. Plan. Plan. Get some paper and crayons, draw up your garden outline, plot a timeline for growing from seeds or plants, and design a plan together. This stage is important to retain your sanity and drives home lessons in charting, time concepts, spatial logic and you get to color, which is always awesome.
2. Keep the tasks SHORT. If you are going for a larger plot, don’t try to plant everything in one day. Break tasks up into age-appropriate time blocks. Rather than doing all dirt scooping one day and all the seeds the next, break it up by smaller, complete cycles. Scoop the dirt, plant cucumber seeds and water them. Done. Tomorrow tackle the tomatoes. Why? Because by day 3 your little gardeners can show off the process for you because they’ve learned each step in succession and you’ve repeated it. Heck, even Dora repeats her 3 destinations over and over – DO the steps over and over and sooner than you can shout “MAP!” your kids will be showing YOU how to plant the beans.
3. Tip – Color coffee stirrers to determine what’s in each pot. Color code your seed packets and pop a kid-colored stick in the dirt so you know what to expect. Take it from a girl who expected tomatoes and up popped peppers – pot position will change given the garden-hands. Great correlation teaching tool and again, coloring in the garden is cool!
4. Make maintenance a FUN daily task. After breakfast, after school, before bed, whatever works for you. Group field trip to check progress, pull out the occasional weed, anything to keep the routine. Kids love routine, it keeps the maintenance part of the garden totally manageable in 10 minute bits, and if you’re one of those overachieving moms you can create a growth chart by weeks/plants.
5. Let them eat off the vine. Repeat. LET THEM EAT OFF THE VINE. It won’t spoil their dinner. But heck, if it does, they’re full of incredibly good food! It will teach them that growing their own food is FUN. Feed your garden with sunshine and love rather than nasty chemical sprays and it’s all good. There’s nothing better on a summer afternoon then gorging yourself on vine ripened tomatoes that taste like the sun as you laugh with your family, seeds spill down your chin and you feel like the garden is the warmest, safest, happiest place on earth where you can be together, laugh, and learn.
– Sara Gibb, thredUP Program Designer
What are you planning on planting with your kids this year?