Even if you don’t have a lot of space – or a green thumb – gardening with kids is a great way to introduce them to where food comes from or to give them the joy of planting seeds (or plants) and watching them grow.
I’ve grown plants, flowers, fruit and vegetables with my daughter, and she loves seeing what is growing, harvesting food or flowers and enjoying them as a family.
If you’ve never had a garden with your kids before, here are some ideas to try.
Start with a Container
If you don’t have a lot of space, time, or faith in your ability to keep things alive, start with a small container garden. Herbs are cute in little pots and growing your own is a great way to introduce kids to them (even if they don’t eat them).
Many things can successfully be grown in containers, depending on the size of the container. Try grape tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, green beans, red or hot peppers, lettuce and more.
Choose Things They Like
One of the most important things to think about when gardening with kids is to plant things they actually like. People often recommend planting radishes with kids, for example, but I don’t know a child who eats radishes (I don’t like them, either).
Instead, plant things the child will eat. That means our garden is full of strawberries and beans. We stopped growing broccoli because the caterpillars ate it all, which is an important lesson, too.
If you’re planting flowers and plants that aren’t for eating, take the child to the garden center or let them look through the seed catalog with you and choose a few things they’d like to grow.
Plant a Theme Garden
We have both a fairy garden and a butterfly garden in half barrels in our backyard. I consider these to be my daughter’s gardens, and she loves checking on them and, when she can remember, watering them.
These sorts of gardens are easy to set up and care for because they can’t hold a lot of plants. Just get a barrel and a couple of bags of soil from the garden center, three or four plants that can happily grow where you want to put them and some cute accessories and you’ll have a sweet little garden in no time.
Of course these large barrels can also be used to grow food around a theme, such as a salsa garden (tomatoes, peppers, cilantro), a pizza garden (tomatoes, basil, peppers or other toppings your family likes) or a salad garden (lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, etc.).
Learn More About Gardens and Gardening
There are a ton of great books for kids of all ages about gardens and gardening, both fiction and nonfiction, from picture books to how-to guides.
Head to your local library, find the garden section of the kids’ library and browse around. Stroll through the picture books and see if anything catches your eye. Here are some of the books I found and enjoyed at our local library.
Check out your local cooperative extension service and see if they offer gardening programs for kids. Or explore the Junior Master Gardener program, which can be done by youth groups, school groups, home schoolers and individuals to learn more about plants and the natural world.