As most of us are staying at home far more than normal, it seems the interest in gardening has spiked for various reasons. For some, it brings a sense of calm in the seemingly decade-long anxiety-inducing 2020, the year that keeps on giving. For others, it’s been a long-held interest and with more time on our hands than ever before, why the hell not.
This is the case for me. I’ve always wanted to start container gardening to grow herbs like basil which I buy and waste so much since I can’t seem to get it to stay fresh in my fridge. I’d also love to have a never-ending supply of fresh peppers, thyme, escallion and if I can get a lime tree to bear then I’d have entered the final level of gardening mastery. Of course, I’d want to bring the munchkin in on my gardening habits and teach her how to grow her own veggies easily as well.
There are many lessons to be learned by teaching your kids how to garden and of course it can be a superb bonding experience for parent and child as you take your seeds or seedlings from dirt (or water) to mature plant. Here are a few ways to get the kiddos interested in getting down and dirty with you.
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How to Get Your Kids Interesting in Gardening
The interest has to be there for gardening before you even start. Luckily, it’s not too hard to get kids into gardening, I’ve found. They’re generally fascinated with how things grow and think growing their own food can be rather cool. Show them videos of the way a seed turns from a seed into a plant. If you’ve got a naturally outdoorsy kid, the bugs and creepy crawlies that can go with gardening will really draw them in.
Know your child’s interests and play to that. It will make it fun and your child will really get into it. If you’ve got a princess on your hands, perhaps a fairy garden theme will entice them to join in on the fun with lots of butterfly stakes, pink plant labels and fairy wind chimes.
Gather all the right tools for the job.
How fun is anything if the tools you have are too big or too small for you to use? It’s just frustrating. Get your child their own gardening tools – gloves, aprons, rake, shovel, watering can, etc. Make sure it’s kid-sized and the colors they love to really draw them in. You might even want to let your child pick out their own tools.
Tailor the experience to your child’s age and level of understanding. To start out, you may not want to give your child big jobs like tilling the soil and adding nutrients. These are labour-intensive and “boring” tasks that may take their interest away.
You can do that without them (unless we’re talking about an older child who might have an understanding and interest in this sort of thing). This is the stuff that can be taught later, though, after they realize how fun it is to grow their own garden.
So just start out showing them how to plant the seed in the dirt. You can either plant first in some egg cartons or directly into the ground. Planting in egg cartons is great for smaller children to keep those seeds in place. You can put the egg carton right in the ground and it will disintegrate, leaving the seeds in their place to grow and thrive.
Children’s Garden Ideas
Let your child be involved in the decision making on what to grow, but help steer them in the direction of things that are easier for beginners to grow. You might not want something that’s going to take a long harvest time because a child will lose interest if they don’t see the fruits of their labor quickly. Here are some great suggestions of what you could try with your beginner gardener:
• Sweet peas
More Tips for Gardening with Kids
Be one with all of nature – There is beneficial wildlife to your garden, but there are some creatures you’d like to keep away. Help your child learn the difference between the two. And come up with ways to attract the critters you want around to help pollinate your garden and the ones you want to keep away. Perhaps read a fun book together to educate you both on the differences before starting your garden.
Show them the magic of gardening – Nothing gets a child more excited than magic. And gardening is a magical thing. Like if you take the cutting of a begonia plant and replant it another will grow. This will amaze them and have them wanting to try it with other plants.
Decorate your garden – Get creative and use things from around the house to add fun and flavour to your garden. Make your own pinwheels to set up around the garden. Paint planters for flowers to be planted in. Make a bird feeder to go in your garden. Brainstorm with your child to make this garden their own.
Don’t forget to care for the garden – Once the seeds are planted, children need to know that now the real work begins. We need to be aware of what unwanted vegetation is (weeds) and how to best dispose of it (pulling) to keep what we’re trying to grow strong and healthy. Plenty of water and sunshine will be important to help our newly-planted plants grow healthy and strong.
Always be enthusiastic – Be willing to try new things with your child. Before you know it your little gardener will be a pro and might even teach you a thing or two.
So get out there and get growing that garden with your kids. Remember to have fun! It’s not a chore – it’s a hobby. Treat it as such and you’ll never get tired of it.
No garden space outside to plant? That’s no excuse! Let’s look at the best fruits and veggies to grow in containers with kids.
Easy Fruits and Veggies You Can Plant in Containers
What grows well in containers that’s simple and something kids will enjoy? Simply put, pretty much any vegetable or herb will grow well in a container as long as there’s enough room. Most herbs will grow according to the sie of the container so you can even start a mug garden on your kitchen counter with your favourite herbs such as scallion, dill, mint, parsley, thyme and basil.
Here are the ten best plants that you can grow in containers with your children.
- Tomatoes – This is probably the most popular choice for growing in containers. Tomatoes are easy to grow; they can even be done from a hanging container and grow upside down. Using good soil and the right amount of water is what’s needed to make tomatoes grow well in containers.
- Potatoes – You can grow a large number of potatoes in containers like compost bags or a large tub.
- Cucumbers – These are easy to grow in containers, but they need the right conditions. They grow best in warm temperatures so if you’re in a seasonal country, don’t plant until early summer for best results.
- Carrots – These are so simple to grow and do really well in containers. So they’re a really great starter vegetable to grow with children.
- Blueberries – These grow well in containers, but only with the right conditions. They ripen best in heat so they’re best saved for the summer. They require rainwater too, so grow them outdoors unless you are able to collect the rainwater in something. They won’t do well with tap water.
- Parsley – This is great in a window box like below. It takes a while to germinate though and requires heat. Also, be sure to use a rich soil.
- Basil – Put it in the window box with parsley, but be warned: this does not do well at all with cold. So make sure there is not going to be any frost. Basil has a few weeks’ germination time, though, so it grows quicker than parsley.
- Radish – This is probably the easiest vegetable to grow in a container and will really get the kids excited. So this is the perfect choice.
- Lettuce – This is actually a great choice for growing in containers. Water in the morning and make sure it is kept in the shade and you’ll have a quick and easy plant in a container in no time.
- Flowers – It doesn’t have to be vegetables alone that you plant in containers. Potted plants such as geraniums, petunias, mums, and sunflowers are great in a pot and something kids will love to help cultivate.
Planting anything with kids can be a whole lot of fun and very educational. Getting kids to eat more vegetables might be easier if they had a hand in planting the veggies. Letting them get their hands dirty and eating the food they make is a huge incentive for even the pickiest of eaters.
So don’t think just because you don’t have a lot of room you can’t create some sort of garden. Hanging tomatoes and window boxes with herbs and including some containers on your porch of radishes and potatoes and you’re off to a great start -gardening with the kids and getting them to try more fruits and vegetables.
What have you grown in containers before?