I’m all about getting kids out into the garden while teaching them environmental stewardship and sustainable gardening practices. In our own city garden in Los Angeles my kids and I compost, raise chickens and grow our own vegetables year round.
When parents see how my kids love to garden, they often ask how they can peel their own children away from the video screen long enough to get them started in gardening, too. Surprisingly, it’s easy! Just spend time with your kids planting something, anything, and make it a scientific adventure. The seeds and plants will do the rest.
If you want to introduce your kids to gardening, here are three simple ideas to get you started:
1) Grow one seed in a pot or a cup on the kitchen table. Why the kitchen table? Well, it is a place where your kids not only walk by several times a day but they will also sit for short periods of time (meals and homework) staring at the emerging seed. Without even realizing it, they will be studying the plant and noticing the marvels of how it came out of that tiny seed. You will soon find that they are stopping by at other times to see how it is doing. (Suggested seeds to try: nasturtiums, beans, sunflowers, and zinnias)
2) You really don’t need a big space to teach gardening. In fact, a small space is better because it stays manageable and fun. Start an edible garden in a large flowerpot outside the back door. Let your child, no matter what age, pick the theme of the container garden (salsa, pizza, butterfly, salad, flower, etc.) and then go together to pick the seeds, plants, soil and container. For that small investment of money you will have a yearlong project that your child will take pride in growing.
3) Yes, I said lease! If you already have a garden, lease a small portion (just a few square feet) to your kids. This works especially well for older kids who have graduated from the seed-in-a-cup phase. Let your children have ownership of this land to grow something marvelous. Depending upon their age, you can even have fun drawing up “the lease papers” and deciding upon “payment.” I suggest a one-time fee of one vegetable to be used in a meal or one flower from the garden to be displayed prominently in the home. Then you provide the supplies and guidance and let them go to it. What happens is amazing. As they take ownership, they begin to feel grown up. They learn responsibility and a wealth of other life lessons.
What other ideas have you tried to get kids turned on by gardening? Share them in the comments section below.