I think many of us have an instinctive sense that gardening is good for kids. It gets them outside, gives them a sense of where their food comes from, gives them interesting and stimulating sensory experiences, and the list goes on and on.
Actually following through and making a garden that is successful and enjoyable for everyone involved, however, can often be frustrating and/or intimidating.
Here are the top things I have learned so far from my 8 years of gardening with kids and having grown up with a father who gardened.
1. Seeds. It is always nice to take a kid to a seed shop and let them see all the packets. These are fun to plant (especially the digging in the dirt part) and it is especially fun to watch the little seedlings poke up out of the ground with your kids.
2. Anticipate points of tension ahead of time. Clearly mark path where they can walk, teach them early on what weeds look like and what the seedlings will look like.
3. Plant things that will capture your kids imagination. Not just vegetables, but also flowers and interestingly shaped plants. Another idea is to let your kids each choose a plant to take care of (with reminders and guidance, of course) :)
4. Plant things that kids can easily harvest themselves and eat right away: peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes. Short maturation time. Seed packets will often tell how long that variety takes to harvest. If you are a beginning gardener, the information on the seed packets can be especially helpful.
5. Love your plants, but love your kids more.
P.S. The kiddo in the picture is E, our second to youngest, two years ago, with the sweet potatoes.
Let us know in the comments below: Do you have any tips on gardening with kids?
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