Looking for something to occupy the kids this spring and summer? For an activity that is fun, but is also a great way to teach responsibility, hard work, and healthy eating, try starting a veggie garden together.
If you already have a vegetable garden, it’s easy to get kids involved with it. Let your children know that they are responsible for performing certain tasks in the garden. Be careful not to overwhelm them, though. Give them simple tasks to get started. Children need to see the fruits of their labors right away. Small, simple tasks are sure to do just that.
For younger children it can be as simple as letting them plant the seeds. You till the earth, hill the rows, and make the holes for the seeds. For older kids, have them help you with some weeding, or put them in charge of the watering. Never make a child do all of the weeding, or digging, and turning of the earth, though. These are the harder and more mundane chores of the garden, and will mean instant boredom, and gardening will become a chore, instead of something they delight in.
Try A Kids’ Garden!
Another strategy is to designate one small area as the children’s personal garden. You might build a small raised bed just for them, cordon off a small section of the main garden, or even buy a few small containers. Allow them to decide what to grow there, and give them complete responsibility for this mini-garden (with your guidance and help, of course).
Easy Ways To Get Started
If you don’t already have a garden, it’s easy to start a small one. Dig a small patch for a dozen or so bush beans and a couple of cucumber plants and tomatoes. Beans are one of the easiest things to grow, even for kids, and they grow quickly, so there’s an almost immediate reward, which is important for keeping first-time growers excited.
If you prefer, your garden can be a sizable one that will supply food for the table every couple of days. Either way, this can be a very rewarding project for you and your children or grandchildren, in many ways. They will learn that food doesn’t have to come from the store, but can come from their own hard work.
Kids Grow Their Own Food
Once kids see the plants growing, and the flowers turn to food, they will become motivated to take on more responsibility in the garden. Mulching and weeding will seem more important to them. They will develop an understanding of the relationship between the sun, the soil, and their local climate. They will also be able to claim bragging rights about their garden to relatives, teachers, and friends.
Growing a garden will instill in your children so many positive traits. It will also give them fantastic memories of you when they are older.
Most kids are naturally curious and enjoy feeling helpful. Gardening is a great way to tap into, and strengthen, those qualities.
From Sofa To Soil
If you need a little help coaxing your kids off of the couch and into the garden, though, here are a few tips to make the experience more exciting:
- Look through gardening catalogs with them. Let them pick out what they like to eat.
- Take them to an interactive farm for a visit.
- Let them plan and prepare meals with their crops using their favorite recipes.
- Start with easy, quick growers like green beans and sunflowers.
- Start out with container gardening. This way they have their own plants and will feel a greater sense of ownership.
- Have them grow colorful varieties like red potatoes, purple beans, and yellow tomatoes.
- Get them involved with 4-H. If they are competitive, let them enter the local agricultural fairs for ribbons.
- Given them a “hang out” spot out in the garden that’s theirs. Maybe behind the sunflowers or corn stalks.
- If they are creative, ask them to design and make labels for their pots and rows on the computer.
- Have them make their own scarecrows. If you have more than one child involved, make it a contest for the scariest or funniest.
If you have pictures of your family working in the garden, share them with us on Facebook!