Gardening for Kids 101
The mental picture of spending quality time in a garden with your children is so picturesque it should come with it’s own sepia filter. Here's how to make it a reality.
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The mental picture of spending quality time in a garden with your children is so picturesque it should come with it’s own sepia filter.
Whether you’re cooking together for a family barbeque, or playing catch with the kids, being in the outdoors together is a great way to make memories. Teaching your kids how to safely experiment with gardening can be a great way to educate them about nature.
So How Do I Get Started?
The fantastic thing here is you don’t need to be a gardening expert to get your kids hooked or have a great experience.
You basically need to have the ability to read and a functioning internet connection (to access the majestic Google) and you’re all set.
Start off by brainstorming the things you want to grow and/or eat and do a basic Google search on how hard they are to grow. Most things are going to be decently simple, but some might be harder if you live in certain climates.
The Acquisition Phase
Once you have a basic list of things you would like to grow (and the internet’s reassurance that they aren’t going to be too ridiculously hard not to kill), you’re ready to grab the small humans and head to get supplies.
A trip to a nursery or a garden centre is a great way to start children off with thinking about being part of caring for the garden. Start by figuring out ‘what is the best nursery for me’?
But First...Brainstorm Your Needs
What kind of garden will your family enjoy and what can a nursery do to help you achieve that?
Do you want to build an amazing treehouse for your children? You’ll need a nursery who can help you identify the kind of tree that will be sturdy enough to safely support a treehouse, and may even be able to advise on how to get it up there without any accidents.
Do you want to grow plants with your kids? Help your kids feel involved with the garden decisions by choosing a nursery where you can take the whole family to look at plants together and choose what you would like to plant at home.
Safety: Don’t Accidentally Kill Your Kids
When choosing plants for a family friendly garden, consider safety. Children have a tendency to put just about everything in their mouths, so make sure you plant things that are safe to be eaten (even if they don’t taste very nice). Anything toxic has to go. Avoid anything spikey or sharp, in case of tumbles into plant beds.
Durability: Don’t Kill Your Plants
Kids often play rough, especially outdoors, so ask your nursery for help choosing plants that are sturdy and hard-wearing. Seek out plants that won’t be easily killed off by a stampede of tiny feet, or having a ball land among them. Choose plants that can stand up to some battering and not a whole lot of attention, to fit in with the chaos of family life.
Choose plants in bright colors that appeal to little ones, and let them help you to create bright beds of flowers that will bring cheeriness to the garden. Appeal to their other senses by choosing plants that smell good, like planting herbs. You can use this to start teaching little ones about different edible plants too.
Catering to Different Ages
For older children, give them a small area of garden to care for themselves.
At the nursery, look for succulents. Succulents are easy to care for, even for beginner gardeners. They come in lots of shapes, sizes and colors, and can be used to create beautiful mini gardens that even little green thumbs can manage. Just make sure the kids know to watch out for any spikes!
Giving them their own area to care for teaches responsibility and a respect for nature, plants and being outdoors. Succulents are easy to grow, so will give them a sense of satisfaction, without the frustration of failing to keep a plant alive.
For littler kids, you might want to start out growing foods they already like to eat. Things like corn or strawberries are usually good “starter plants” and then the experience of picking and eating things they saw “grow up” will help them make the connection that *gasp* food comes from the ground.
Calling All Gardening Tips
Any expert gardeners out there have any recommendations for how to get your kids into it? Leave your wisdom, experiences, and horror stories in the comments section!
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Liz is a wife, mom, blogger, coder (and unabashed digital nerd), PhD student (and huge psychology geek), workout masochist, and occasional human being. She founded The Stay Sane Mom after marrying into the role of stepmom to a preteen girl (and Instagram addict) and shortly thereafter having her first bio kid (now a toddlernado supreme). Her goal is to provide tools and support to help other capable, sleep-deprived, soul-hungry moms master their domains so they have the time and energy to be more than just 'mom'.
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