Planting season has arrived, a prime time to share your love for nature with your entire family and spend quality time together in the garden. Getting kids excited about gardening is simple if they are involved with the planning process which promotes a fertile imagination.
Gardening is fun at any age. With a little help, even toddlers and preschoolers enjoy planting their own little posie or veggie patch.
Choose a theme
Kids love a theme – from birthday parties to bedroom decor. Capitalize on that by together planning and planting a themed garden. Center the theme on foods they already like, such as pizza or salsa, so the fun and learning experience of gardening combines with eating and enjoying what they’ve grown.
What you plant in your pizza garden will depend on your family’s preferences, but tomatoes, purple and yellow peppers, oregano and basil are staples for any pie. For your salsa garden, choose tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, red onion, cilantro and hot peppers.
A butterfly garden is another theme that appeals to children who love flowers, not to mention bugs. Planting sun-loving flowers like bee balm, purple coneflower, black-eyed susan and butterfly weed are sure to attract plenty of butterflies. With luck, the adult butterflies will leave eggs behind, so children will witness the insect’s amazing life cycle firsthand.
Give them the tools
Brightly colored small spades, tot-sized trowels and, of course, a watering can are beginner gardening staples. Equip children with tools that fit their smaller hands and appeal to their sense of adventure.
ScottsMiracle-Gro and Peachtree Playthings have teamed up to offer a line of gardening kits that incorporate Miracle-Gro products that have been helping adults grow successful gardens for decades. The 3-in-1 Gardening Set includes containers, Miracle-GroGo-Mix, seed packets, instructions and a watering can, and helps kids tap into the fun of gardening while doing it on their own.
Children can start flowers or vegetables from seed using a Miracle-Gro Kids ModPots, Kids Terrarium or single-plant Grow-A-Plant set. Once plants have grown their second set of leaves, replant in the garden and watch them flourish.
Whether your family garden will be in the backyard or in containers on the balcony, porch or patio, involving everyone makes gardening enjoyable. Start by having kids select a garden site. Choose a place that is easily accessible with adequate sunlight – six hours a day – and good drainage. Children like to choose what they want to plant. Often, they pick well-loved vegetables and flowers such as pumpkins, potatoes, daisies or geraniums. Feel free to suggest easy-to-grow new plant ideas like zucchini, purple peppers, dill, chives or tomatoes.
During the summer and fall months, as your family comes up with ideas for next year’s garden, be adventurous and explore developed gardens where your children can see what the adult plants look like. Cut out pictures and have kids make a garden collage of ideas. Visit friends and family gardens, tour a botanical or community garden or simply stroll through the local nursery.
Bring along a plant identification book and journal to write down the names, colors, scents and if appropriate, taste of the plant and its fruits you like. Your children will come up with plenty of planning activities for the long winter months as they begin dreaming of spring, planting and tasting once again.