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How To Garden With Your Kids

Written by Patrice D'Agostino

Photography by Photography by James Kicinski-McCoy

What’s cuter than a smiling, muddy kid? We can’t think of much! As temperatures rise and the days grow longer, now is prime season to get your kids excited about gardening. Besides the getting-messy-in-dirt factor, gardening with your kids is an awesome way to foster their creative senses and inform them on where their food comes from. Because we think the best approach to farm-to-table starts in your very own backyard, we’ve put together a how-to guide on gardening with kids that will not only make them love gardening, but will also help them learn responsibility without so much as realizing it. Read our tips below and get your kids to embrace their inner green thumbs in 3, 2, 1…

Make it Educational: Start your grand gardening project by teaching your kids a little or a lot about seasonality. Explain that certain foods grow during certain times of the year. This spiel can be as detailed as you’d like, but just remember to keep the conversation fun and exciting. Also, be open to their interests in growing whatever they’d like, regardless of seasonality. This might seem counterintuitive, but there’s a reason. The point of this lesson is to help save any hurt feelings in case some of their plants don’t end up growing, but not to stifle creativity.

Let Your Kids Decide What to Grow: After their lesson in seasonality, your informed little growers are ready for a trip to the nursery! Give them the freedom to browse the seed catalogues and decide which plants to grow. Guide their choices to include some of their favorite fruit and vegetables and also some not so familiar options. This way they can enjoy some of their favorite foods while developing tastes for new things.

Purchase Kid-Friendly Gardening Gear: Consider getting hand tools and accessories that are made specifically for kids, like shovels, rakes, gloves, aprons, and waterproof clogs. There are many awesome options with fun colors, prints, and characters. The best approach is to allow your kids to choose their own gear, this way you can be sure they will love what they get and be excited to use everything.

Sprout Seeds Indoors: By starting sprouts indoors, you can bolster kids’ anticipation for taking the big project outdoors! To get the sprouts started you’ll need potting soil, egg cartons (which make perfect sprouting vessels), seeds, of course, and eager little growers! Have your kids fill the cartons with soil, moisten it with water, place one seeds in the center of each egg holder, and press them halfway down, then cover the hole with soil. Once they’ve sowed all their seeds, transfer the cartons to a well lit window seal. Have your kids water them daily and monitor the progress.

Allow Your Kids to Plot the Plants: When the sprouts are nice and strong, they are ready to transfer to the garden. To assist with this activity, use yarn or string to create plots in your fertilized and prepared garden bed. Create a grid of 12″x 12″ squares. This makes it easier for you kids to visualize space and understand distance. Next, it’s time to get dirty and start planting! Allow them to get wild and plant their sprouts wherever they choose.

Make Watering a Daily Scheduled Activity: Schedule watering at the same time each day. Choose a time that is either before the sun reaches its peak or after it begins to set. Use the time schedule to foster responsibility in your kids. Leave it to them to remember when to water each day and, of course, you can remind them if they forget.

Plan the Harvest: Preparing to harvest is a task that requires monitoring overtime. Try this helpful trick: When the fruit and vegetables start to grow, let your kids know how each should feel and look when it ripens. Have them check daily for these details. Once the fruit and vegetables are ripe, then it’s time to harvest and enjoy the end products of all of their hard work!

Turn Their Labor into Yummy Meals: Take your harvest from garden-to-table by allowing your kids to come up with creative meal ideas. By giving them the opportunity to decide how to enjoy the fruits of their labor, their love for gardening can easily transfer into a love for healthy food.

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