Gardening with Kids: How to Get Them InvolvedOle & Shaina Olmanson
We love involving our children in our gardening adventures. They’ve been right alongside us ever since we planted our first container garden on our patio when we rented.
I believe it’s important to get my kids involved in most everything we do, right down to family grocery shopping and farmer’s market trips, all six of us. I want them to experience what goes into the process of feeding themselves and a family so that one day they can do it too.
Here are a few of the things we do to let our kids (ages 1-10) be part of the experience:
1. Pick seeds. We let each child pick at least one vegetable that is theirs. From carrots to pumpkins, my kids are thrilled when they see their plant growing. We did have a fatality, but we just started new seeds and tried again. It was part of the learning experience.
2. Plant and care for seedlings. The kids were responsible for checking the soil and moving the seedling trays to the window for light when it was still too cold for them to be outside. We just made it a habit to look right after breakfast since they were in the dining room, and they were always excited to see how their little plants were changing.
3. Prepare the garden beds. Our kids were right there with us, removing stones from the garden and helping spread new compost before we planted the seedlings. Truth be told, it was great just being able to dump in the compost and say, “Make an even layer” and then watching it happen for once. It encouraged teamwork and got us outside after a long Midwest winter.
4. Weed and water. We were pretty ambitious with our gardening this year, and I’m planning to go bigger next year. Weeding has become a huge job, and watering, if it ever stops raining, can also get to be a chore. Luckily, there are lots of little hands to help get rid of those pesky tree seedlings that keep sprouting up and to pick up the watering cans and make sure their designated beds get a good soaking.
5. Harvesting the fruits of their labor. My kids are always so excited to see the fruits and vegetables coming to life, it’s hard to keep them from picking them before it’s time. After months of work and patience, they start seeing their hard work pay off night after night as they find what’s ripe in the garden that we can use for family meals.
6. Cooking with the harvest. When we are harvesting, especially the specific plants the kids had originally picked to plant, we let them have a say in what goes on the menu to be made with them. This completes the sense of ownership they’ve had over the entire process, as their food is made into a meal for the whole family.
Do you garden with your kids?