It’s staying light later…and yesterday, it was almost 70 degrees here. I know what’s going to happen. It always does. The weather turns warm, I get suckered into planting something fun and colorful outdoors, and then we get a snowstorm that buries my flowers and a little bit of my soul under a foot and a half of snow. It’s an annual rite of spring.
When it’s finally time to plant here, the kids get to work, too. Studies show kids involved in planting their own veggies are more likely to eat them. The fresh air and exercise does all of us good. And also — free labor. Here are a few tips for gardening with kids.
1.) Get them their own tools. We like these Melissa and Doug Sunny Patch tools, but there are lots of other children’s gardening tools. And you don’t have to buy new — there’s a great selection on eBay, and you can check garage sales and thrift stores. Don’t go overboard — there are a ton of tools for gardening with kids, but really all they need is a watering can and a kid-sized shovel.
2.) Plant some things that grow quickly. I’m not a radish person. But every year we plant radishes because they’re one of the fastest growing veggies out there. Of course we plant other stuff as well, but little kids are impatient and need to see some progress. Radishes take about 30 days from seed to table…and they’re bright red and round and fun to pull. Win.
4.) Encourage their interests. I have one kid who likes playing in the dirt, planting seeds, and pulling up weeds (oh, and worms. Worms.) I have another research-loving kid who spent an hour planning out where things should go based on companion-planting and sun requirements. Another one likes picking the veggies and figuring out how to prep them for dinner. Figure out what they like to do and…well, let them do it.
5.) Read up on it! A few of our favorite books on gardening with kids:
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss — A classic. We love it.
My Garden by Kevin Henkes — I always like his books anyway, but this one sparks some fun conversations. What would you grow in your garden?
And one we’re in the middle of reading right now:
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