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A Little Dirt Doesn’t Hurt: Tips for Gardening with Kids

Spring has finally sprung, the skies are filled with the sunshine, everything is finally green again. It is time to get outside! From bike rides to spring sports, get out and enjoy this beautiful weather. One of our favorite things to do is to work on our vegetable garden!

My son and I have grown, (or attempted to grow, not every year has gone as planned), a fruit and vegetable garden for the last few years. We started when he was a little guy, around 4 years old. Playing in the dirt, picking out interesting plants, and being outside all equals time spent together away from tablets and video games! 

My goal for our garden this year is that I don’t end up doing most of the work when it comes to the upkeep. Disclaimer: I do not have “green thumb” so if you are just starting out or new to gardening with little helpers, there some tips to try below! 

Our seedlings, we had a great start.

Try it Tip #1: Encourage them to pick out the seeds or plants. This a great way to spark their interest, but also encourage trying new foods. Stores like Meijer and Home Depot, have a wide selection of fruits and veggies to choose from. Better yet they have already little growing plants like golden raspberries and purple seed potatoes. Can you imagine using purple potatoes for homemade fries or mashed potatoes?!  You can also find seed packets for colorful peppers, tomatoes, and carrots. 

Many options of seeds, from organic to non-organic

When picking out seeds or plants, we try to find ones that are low maintenance and typically grow well. (Lower chance of disappointment from plants that don’t grow!) Great options for vegetables include romaine lettuce, beans, and peas. Successful fruits are strawberries, raspberries, and tomatoes. (Yes, tomatoes are a fruit!) My son loves to plant watermelon and pumpkins too! We had a ton of pumpkins last year. He is already plotting out where his Jack ‘O Lantern and Moon Pumpkins should go this year.

Try it Tip #2: Have all the supplies ready! Make sure you have everything set to go – no down time! Being prepared will help keep them interested. Make sure you have enough soil to plant or transfer the plants. Using a raised garden bed? Make sure you allow enough time to complete this! These come in kits, and are typically not difficult to set up, but can take time. Make a project out of setting this up. While we are talking about supplies, there are a ton of cute character themed children’s gardening supplies. My son is eight now, but still gets excited about having his own gardening tools. (Don’t forget to grab yourself good gloves and new gardening tools!) And really, what little kids do not like to get the okay to get messy in the dirt?

Try it Tip #3: Include them in the process! Be sure to include them in the upkeep of the garden. They may see it as a chore at first but keep encouraging, teaching along the way. Be sure to demonstrate how much water to give the plants, what is a weed vs. a plant. Show how to gently pluck a tomato off the vine or pick berries. This is where those nifty new kid size gardening tools will come in extra handy!

Try it Tip #4: Let them eat! One of the best parts of growing your own raspberries, strawberries, and tomatoes: you can pop in the backyard and eat them right away. Let them find their own snack! There is just something exciting about being able to eat right off the vine. 

Gardening is a great activity for families to participate in together. Gardening with your kids is teaching important skills, such as patience, responsibility, treating the earth with respect. You may get some “help” in the kitchen when your produce are ready to eat! Not to mention the hands-on experience of getting a little dirty, being outside away from technology.

Have you had success gardening with your kids? What is your favorite thing to grow?

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