The birds are chirping, the grass is growing, and the bees are buzzing; it is time to do some gardening! I don’t think there is anything more satisfying then going out to your own garden and picking your own fruits and vegetables. Gardening is one of my favorite outdoor family activities and it is a great way to get your kids outside and connected with nature. Teaching kids gardening will also open their eyes to where our food comes from, and how it is grown.
Container gardening is a great way to begin gardening with kids. A surprising amount of food can be grown from containers. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, pole beans, herbs and strawberries can all thrive in containers. Buy pots that drain and are at 18 inches in diameter.
Tips For Teaching Kids Gardening
Here are three tips to introduce kids to gardening.
Introduce Gardening Tools
Before you begin, teach your kids how gardening tools are used. Show them a hoe, shovel, and trowel. Explain how each tool works. If you have really young children using a trowel is a perfect option to get them involved.
Let Kids Pick Some Plants
Let your kids pick out their own plants at the nursery. They will be excited to see the tiny plant they picked out grow to maturity. Buy mostly plants you know your kids will actually eat. Although, having your kids help you grow a food they don’t normally eat can broaden their horizons. Who wouldn’t want to try a new veggie they grew from scratch?
Let Kids Get Dirty
Let them get dirty! Show them how to scoop out a space for the plant, then transplant the plant from the pot to container. Explain how the soil needs nutrients, as well as sun and water to help the plants grow.
More Tricks For Teaching Kids Gardening
Summer is a great time to grow a garden and have your kids help and learn. Studies have shown that when you involve your kids from the ground floor with meals, it encourages them to make healthier choices on their own. Kids are naturally curious. They want to know where their food comes from. Plus, gardening at home with your kids can be a lot of fun for everyone. Here are a few important tricks for teaching kids gardening.
Pick a Plot or Get Pots and Containers
You don’t need to live on the farm to enjoy fresh produce and teach your children all about healthy eating. All it takes is a small plot of dirt, or a handful of containers that you can fill with dirt. You can even recycle tin cans or plastic bottles to use as containers if you don’t want to buy terra-cotta pots.
Don’t skimp on the dirt. Fill each container nearly to the top or make sure to dig the ground up and break it up to prepare it for planting.
Place in the Sunshine
Most vegetables need substantial sunshine to grow. This can be as easy as putting your pots on the fire escape, or rooftop if you are in a city. Or it could mean having them on the sunniest side of your house. The same is true for your kids, they need lots and lots of time outside playing and staying active. The plants should get approximately four to six hours of sun a day.
Place Seeds or Young Plants
It is easier to start with small young vegetable plants, than it is to grow an entire plant from a seed. It’s not that it can’t be done, but it requires patience. If it’s your family’s first time, try starting with small pre-grown plants, especially at this point in the summer. Add some good soil to the holes you and your kids have dug in the garden plot or pots and fully cover the roots of the plants.
Water Every Day
Just as water is the healthiest option for you and your family to drink, it is a vital necessity for fruits and vegetables to grow. Make sure you water your plants every day. An important element of teaching kids gardening is having them help keep the plants hydrated and weeded.
Watch Your Vegetables Grow!
Little do they know that while they’ve been helping you along in the process of digging, planting, weeding and watering; that the whole time the television has been off and they’ve been burning calories. Let your kids do most of the work. Watch their satisfaction grow as they cultivate their own tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, and carrots. Make sure you stake or trellis the plants to allow them to be productive.
Once the plants begin producing, kids can harvest the fruits and veggies. Toss a salad and teach them how to make an easy vinaigrette and have them enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors. They can help you prepare recipes using produce they have grown. Or they can snack on strawberries and cherry tomatoes straight off the bush. Yummy!
Gardening teaches kids about seasonal fruits and vegetables. They learn to discern quality produce. What is tasty in Spring won’t even grow in grow in Autumn. Try to have a taste-test with them to see if they can tell the difference between store-bought or home-grown. I’ll bet they can tell what they have grown any day of the week.
Happy planting! I hope your family enjoys this growing season.