Getting kids into the garden isn’t always easy but once they’re in, getting them out might be a challenge. As much as kids love to play in the dirt, gardening isn’t quite the same. Let’s make gardening with kids fun and easy.
Small hands don’t grasp adult-sized tools easily. For a few dollars each you can buy child-sized tools. They’re typically rugged enough to last the entire season but not so expensive that when they disappear half way through that it’s a big loss. Kids like “diggers.” Trowels and spades are great. A hoe and garden rake should also get a lot of use. Spend a little time showing kids how to use these tools properly so they don’t become discouraged. Store the tools conveniently near the garden so they aren’t misplaced when the child gets distracted on the way to the house.
A lot of vegetables come in kids’ colors. Carrots are available in red and purple. Purple and lime green cauliflower varieties could be what it takes for kids to love this often passed up veggie. Bright Lights Swiss Chard grows in six main colors. Tomatoes aren’t always read. You can grow yellow, orange, striped and speckled varieties. They also come in different sizes and shapes from tiny cherry tomatoes to varieties that grow to weigh more than a pound.
In winter months where it’s too cold to garden, online seed catalogs are a good way to start developing a child’s interest in gardening. Seed displays in the garden department of stores are fun and the reward is immediate; you can take the seeds home and plant them the same day now that the weather is warming up.
Gardens need water. Kids plus water plus soil equals mess. It’s okay. Kids, clothes and floors wash. Our kids had small watering cans and a bucket of water. Let them water their seeds after planting and as they grow. Older kids who understand not mowing over nearby plants with the hose should be able to use the hose. Control the water flow by adjusting the faucet accordingly.
Grow what kids eat and eat what kids grow. You don’t have to love purple carrots but you’ll set a good example if you eat them, or at least try them. Be creative. Lime green cauliflower becomes Alien Brains when you get creative. White turnips are cool eyeballs if you cut the top off one-eighth inch above the bulb.
If you give kids their own spot in the garden you should consider wider than normal rows to walk in. The smaller the feet the bigger the foot prints left in the soil, or so it seems. Plants will get stepped on, and they’ll probably survive.
We sometimes asked our kids to choose and harvest the vegetable for supper. Occasionally we had a medley of tomato, broccoli, spinach and cucumbers in one meal, and it was always delicious. We mix it up in the salad bowl so why not on our plates?