Introducing Kids to Gardening

The middle of summer is the perfect time to start a “child’s garden,” since the attention span of little ones often isn’t long enough for all of that spring prep work you did. As the weather heats up and you want to encourage kids to spend some times outdoors, working on a garden together is the perfect way to enjoy the sunshine while introducing children to the magic of gardening. There are many easy tasks they can complete and plenty of fun peppered in (like discovering how to handle slugs and snails or uncovering earthworms).
 
First, figure out what kind of garden your child wants. A habitat garden that attracts butterflies? A veggie and herb garden where they really learn farm to table practices and can then help whip up delicious meals? How about a plant and flower garden, where kids handpick their plants after you’ve narrowed down the options based on time of year and region?
 
Simple Gardening Tasks for Kids
 
Children, depending on their age, can actually take over the entire project with a bit of initial guidance. Planting seeds, watering, soil management and tracking the growth of plants are all easy tasks. Nothing compares to your child’s first roses, and showing someone the magic of caring for a living thing is a huge milestone. However, be realistic when it comes to your child’s interest and abilities for routine care. They can be fickle, and this might be a project you’ll have to take over.
 
On the other hand, if you’re a good gardening role model, children will happily join you in the garden. The key to raising a dedicated gardener is making sure they enjoy small successes and “helping” them when they’re not looking (and as necessary). Remember that plants are much easier to care for than seeds, and the immediate gratification is better suited for children.
 
Gardening as a Family
 
Your child’s first garden can easily be a family activity and a means to spend more time together. Plus, it’s an invaluable learning opportunity no matter what your child’s interests. You can even grow fungus to learn about recycling or indulge in some humane pest control tactics (such as using rum rather than harmful chemicals to lure in insects).
 
A few common summer gardening tasks suited for kids include setting snail bait, pinching and deadheading flowers, collecting veggies and fruits when they’re ripe, watering plants, moving potted plants to the shade, mulching and weeding. You’ll be surprised by what you consider a chore and what your child considers fun.
 
Who knows? You might have a future professional gardener on your hands.