By contributing writer Tabitha.
Over 18 years of marriage we’ve had the chance to plant gardens in many of the places where we’ve lived. In each of those places, we had children to help out with the garden. I have to say, the kids were very involved in each of these experiences and seeing a garden through their eyes was one of the best things about all the hard work and dirt!
Things I’ve Learned About Gardening with Kids
- Keep it simple! Don’t try to plant everything or get the soil just right. Get something in the ground and take care of it. Especially the first year. Otherwise, you can get overwhelmed easily.
- Research what grows well in your area, how to prepare the soil, etc., but don’t go overboard. There is such a thing as trying to control too much with a garden. Ask your neighbors what works for them.
- Kids can handle more than you think. Give them some responsibility, and they will impress you.
- Plants can go through a lot and still survive. Most are quite hardy. Go for it, and don’t let fear govern your garden.
- Plant what you like to eat, and eat what you grow. That being said…
- Kids will be more interested in eating something they grew, so it’s a good time to try something new! We did okra… that was interesting.
Things My Kids Have Learned Through Gardening
- The weather means a lot when you are growing a garden. You need rain, but you don’t want hail. You need lots of warm, sunny days, but it’s hard to water a dried out garden.
- Pests are very real things. Bugs can eat your harvest before you even have it ripe. Deer are animals you want out of your garden.
- Farmers work really hard to get food to the farmers’ markets and grocery stores. It doesn’t just appear in the stalls or on the shelves.
- Growing things takes patience. A little seed takes a while to become your favorite vegetable or fruit, and work goes along with it.
- Plant biology is fascinating and very cool to watch close up.
- Eating your own harvest is awesome. Being able to give some away is even better.
- Preserving food (freezing, canning, drying) is another neat thing to learn when you have extra that you want to enjoy later.
- Different things grow better in different areas of the country. We’ve had gardens in Ohio, Texas, and Missouri, and in other states we have grown plants in containers because we didn’t have a yard.
- Real work gives real results. Work hard.
Gardening is one of the best ways to show kids real results from working hard. There are other ways, but it’s wonderful to see the understanding of what goes into the food we eat. Even if only one of your plants produces anything, it’s still a success. It’s science, religion, work, and family time all in one activity. Grow a garden this year!