There’s something incredibly magical about gardening. Place a seed in the soil, add water and sunlight, and – presto – you’ve got a living, growing plant.
That magic can enthral adults, but it has an incredible effect on children.
Involving your children in gardening offers a number of benefits, too, ranging from giving you more time with those precious little ones to instilling in them a love for nature and gardening.
Kids who garden while young are also far more likely to grow up to be gardeners themselves, and the world could definitely use more green spaces and people in love with nature. Of course, I realise there can be some challenges with getting your little ones involved, so I’ve listed some gardening ideas with children below to help you out a bit.
1. Give Your Kids Their Own Plot in Your Garden
If your kids are old enough, consider giving them their own space in the garden to grow whatever it is they want (within reason, of course – you don’t want to plant a willow where it will block your path). Help out with the plot as you can, but also give them a little bit of independence. Set them up for success, but make sure that they’re able to do something on their own to earn it. You’ll be amazed at the wonder in their eyes when their plants sprout and thrive.
2. Teach Them About Growing Their Own Food
I’m a pretty big believer in growing your own food, as well as growing flowers and other plants for visual appeal. Plus, growing veggies will help acquaint your little ones with varieties they might not recognise from the grocer’s, and will definitely help increase the likelihood that they’ll be happy about eating their vegetables. Plant veggies that will thrive in your area – cucumbers and snap peas are generally good options. You can also try growing other options, such as pumpkins and other gourds. Courgettes, yellow squash and melons can also be fun.
3. Create a Themed Garden With Them
One of the more interesting gardening activities with children is to create a themed garden. The theme you choose can be virtually anything, but I do recommend that you tie it in with something in which your child is interested, food-wise. A “pizza garden”, for instance, would grow vegetables that you’re likely to find on your favourite pizza, such as green peppers, tomatoes, and herbs like basil. When the veggies mature, use them to actually make a pizza.
There are plenty of other themes you might explore, depending on your child’s food preferences. Does he or she love sandwiches? Grow a sandwich garden with cucumbers, tomato, lettuce and the like. Consider pickling your own cucumbers (either with fermentation or with vinegar if you’re not quite ready to try your hand at fermented foods) to really introduce your children to eating what they grow.
4. You Can’t Go Wrong With a Good Old Sunflower
Children love bright, bold flowers, so why not go with the brightest and boldest of all? Sunflowers are glorious, and they’re relatively easy to grow if you have a sunny spot in your garden. You’ll also find a host of varieties out there, from mammoth flowers that grow over six feet tall to dwarf varieties. Plus, you can harvest and dry the seeds when the flowers die, then lightly coat them with oil and salt, roast them in the oven and feast on them. It’s yet another way to teach your children that good food can be grown by hand.
5. Ask Them What They’d Like to Grow
Perhaps the best of all these gardening with children ideas is this – ask them what they would like. Even young kids can have amazing ideas for flowers and vegetables they would like to try their hand at growing. You’ll want to exercise your discretion here, of course, but let your children use their imagination and then plant what they suggest if possible. This helps to keep them engaged and active in the garden.
6. Have a Garden Scavenger Hunt
Another great idea is to set up a scavenger hunt for your kids. It’s challenging, educational and perfect for spending time outdoors. Check out this helpful scavenger hunt checklist that’s also printable!
Some Notes on Gardening with Children
Finally, if you’ll be introducing your children to gardening, you’ll want to take special care in some areas. For instance, you’ll want to completely eliminate chemicals from the areas where your kids are growing, as pesticides and chemical fertilisers can be very harmful to little ones. You’ll also want to make sure that you have child-appropriate gardening tools, and clothing they (and you) are comfortable with soiling.