A Family Of Gardeners: Part 1

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Do you want to teach your children how to garden? How to enjoy working for a harvest? No matter the size of your garden I think every child should get to experience what it is to grow their own food.

When my oldest was two, I started gardening. We had been in our new home for a couple years, and I was finally ready to garden. We live on a  piece of land that is mostly fenced off because of the cows. My husband’s grandpa, our neighbor, has a nice sized farm and he uses the land around us for his cattle and their food. So while we have beautiful views and fields for miles around us, we actually have a small space for gardening. I learned quickly that our soil is very “clay-y” so we upped our game and made four garden boxes. Each are about 6 ft x 4 ft and 1ft. high above the ground.

When Josh first started gardening with me, it looked more like me pulling weeds and him collecting worms and snails. As he’s grown, he enjoys more of the work. He will plant seeds, pull weeds, check the plants to see if they are getting enough water, and his favorite, harvest!

Watering the garden boxes
Watering the garden boxes

I have an 8 year old, 4 year old and a 1 year old. They all garden with me. Of course, some are more helpful than others right now, but I love it just the same. Last night Rori, the 1 year old saw me picking green beans and tried to pick some for herself. She grabbed 3 green bean leaves and was so proud of herself!

Rori tried dirt. It didn't quite taste like chocolate.
Rori tried dirt. It didn’t quite taste like chocolate.

My goal is to some day get to the point of self-sustaining, but for now I love what we have.

Here are some helpful ways to get your kids involved in gardening. Remember, if you have a child who doesn’t like to work this is a good way to get them used to the idea. Gardening is work, but fun! Watching something grow and produce fruit is a great teaching tool too. I was just explaining to the kids about how to tell if something is ripe or not.

Squash, cilantro and snails.
Squash, cilantro and snails.

Tips For Getting Your Kids Into Gardening

  1. When planting, let them put the seeds in while you make the hole. As long as you’re measuring the correct depth, they can put in the seeds however they want. If they accidently put in too many, just thin it out later.
  2. While a drip system is more common, I still let my kids use a watering can. We have a drip system, but especially on days when it gets to be 110+ degrees, I think the plants can use some extra water! This can be entertaining too, because once the can is empty they need to go refill it. I’ll even let my kids get into their swim suits before we water the plants. Then I really don’t care if they get soaked in the process!
  3. Give a time limit on pulling weeds. Sometimes I’ll say, let’s pull weeds for ten minutes, then play soccer. This helps them to know there is an end to the work.
  4. Do something with the harvest! If you pick three ripe zucchini try to use it that day or the next. When kids see they get to eat what they picked from the garden, they get excited! My Frittata is a great dish for throwing in fresh veggies and herbs from the garden.
  5. Let them try food right when they pick it. Picked some tomatoes? Ask them if they want to eat it! We don’t spray our gardens with any chemicals, so the food is ready to eat right off the vine!
  6. Explain why you’re doing things. On days I’m helping the bean plant get back onto the metal steaks I tell my kids why. Or days when I have to pull a plant that’s gone to seed and is done for the season, I tell them why.
  7. Take your time. Work at your child’s pace, not yours. If they want to look at a ladybug for a couple minutes before they work, let them. Honor their learning process.

Do you have any great tips for raising a family of gardeners?

I’d love to hear them!

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