5 ways to keep the family involved
Once the fun of digging in is done, the excitement of the outdoors doesn’t need to end. Keep the enthusiasm going with these outdoor games, activities and lessons for the whole family.
Guess the yield
Make gardening a season-long guessing game! Have each family member estimate how many tomatoes, peppers or cucumbers each plant will produce during the growing season or when the first veggies will be ready for harvest. This can keep the kids checking on and tending to the plants throughout the growing season, and will test everyone’s plant knowledge.
Learn outside the classroom
One key garden motivator — also known as one of the four E’s — is education. Bring learning outside the classroom by encouraging kids to keep a garden journal highlighting the progress of their outdoor work, documenting when the first flowers, fruit and harvest occurred for reference in years to come through words and photos. Then, conduct experiments to understand photosynthesis, what plants need and the conditions for the best plant growth by providing different levels of sun, water and various soil types.
Track the weather
Get kids excited about and interested in the weather and how it relates to their garden’s success by having them keep track of rain levels, wind speed and temperatures to learn the impact of weather on their garden. Create a weather station for extra hands-on learning fun. For middle-schoolers and teens, encourage the use of technology with to monitor weather, weeding and other timely garden chores.
Explore the neighborhood
The best place to get gardening advice is from fellow gardeners! Visit neighbors and family members who also garden to learn about their crops and why they garden. Or plan weekend field trips to local farmers markets to see and interact with expert gardeners and discover new varieties of veggies and flowers to try in the garden next year.
Cook the harvest
Another key motivator (from the four E’s) for gardening is “eating better,” so encourage kids to make nutritious choices by letting the kids pick recipes for the harvested vegetables and having them participate in preparing the meal. The larger role kids have, the more likely they will be to try new, healthy recipes. Better yet, conduct a blindfolded taste test to see which tastes better — homegrown veggies or those from the supermarket.