Kids are natural gardeners. They love to play in the dirt, they’re not afraid of critters, they are curious about the world around them, and they learn best by doing. Gardening is a great way to teach your children about health and nutrition, biology, and ecology. It also inspires creativity and helps kids develop an appreciation and love for the natural world. Here’s a checklist for gardening with children that will inspire you and your kids to get outside.
To start out, choose plants that grow quickly and aren’t too fussy. Here are some top choices:
These are probably the quickest vegetables you can grow. They germinate in three to five days, and are ready to harvest in two weeks. Radishes do best in cool weather, and they’re really fun to pull up.
These massive flowers grow quickly, and will soon tower over your kids. Plant them around the edges of a square planting bed, and you will create a private sunflower house for your children to play in.
It’s great for snacking, grows fast, and is really nutritious. Choose green-leaf types over heading lettuce - they’re less fussy.
Most kids love to eat potatoes, and harvesting them is like digging for gold.
Buy seedlings from your local nursery to get a jumpstart on the season, and be sure to plant them in full sun. Kids will love harvesting and snacking on these sweet little gems.
Want another spot where your kids’ imagination can bloom along with the plants? Try a bean teepee. Tie three or four 10-foot poles together at the top, forming the basic teepee structure, then plant a few bean seeds around the bottom of each pole. Beans grow really fast, and before long you’ll have more than you can eat, plus a shady little hide-out.
While strawberries aren’t the easiest plant to grow, they are the most fun to harvest. Who can resist homemade strawberry shortcake, strawberry jam, or strawberry ice cream?
Even a small plot that they can care for will make them feel trustworthy and responsible.
Want to raise healthy eaters? By allowing kids to grow their own food, and then teaching them how to prepare delicious, healthy meals with their harvest, you’ll help them develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.
Kids might not be ready for every gardening task. In order to ensure their success, you may have to do a little pest control, fertilizing, and watering yourself.
Take photos, give tours, praise their delicious harvest. This is motivation for future gardening endeavors.