Gardening with children can be such a fun summer activity to do with the family. So, whether you are an eager parent or eager new gardener, here are some tips for a kid friendly garden and to encourage children to garden with you!
Kid friendly gardens are great for kids and new gardeners too. The reason to plant a garden that children will enjoy is to create an interest in gardening and nature in general. In order to do that, the plants in a garden should be hearty, take little care, and have a big WOW factor. These factors are good for a new gardener as well. Nothing is worse than starting out with big dreams of a lush oasis in your backyard and winding up with a withered mess.
Grow Plants That Are Native To Your Location
It is always easiest to maintain plants that are native to your area. Not only will the results be better because they are meant for your specific soil and climate conditions, they will be helping the native environment of your area. Many animals depend on the seeds or shelter of native plants and can not use a substitute. For example, the Monarch butterfly depends on having milkweed plants for their developing caterpillars. Without these plants, the Monarch population would be decimated. Do some research and find out what plants fit this bill. They are native, hearty, and have a WOW factor that appeals to you or your children. In Ottawa, you can find out more about the over 1,000 different native plants in the area.
Have Your Children Help Grow Vegetables
A great way to encourage children to garden is to have them help you grow them. I have found that it is true, if a child helps prepare vegetables, they are more likely to eat them. If you grow a salad in your yard every year, you will notice that your kids are willing to eat some of the crop, especially if they picked it. Vegetables growing is a great first garden experience for children. They are meant to grow fast and the rewards of a fresh veggie at the end is a great way to encourage future gardening.
Stay away from any type of veggie that needs to be babied. In Ottawa, these vegetables grow easily:
Kids love hunting through the tomato plants in search of the perfect tomato. If you plant some grape or cherry tomatoes, the kids can pick them off the vine, run them under water, and pop them in their mouths right away. You can tell them to feel how warm they are and full of sunshine. They love it. Even when my kids were younger, who usually doesn’t eat tomatoes, will eat the ones they picked. One of their favourite chores was taking a tiny basket out to the garden to fill with grape tomatoes for dinner.
No Harsh Chemicals and Insecticides
Another thing to stay away from is harsh chemicals and insecticides. I don’t put anything on my plants and they do just fine. I figure if it isn’t hardy enough to make it alone, I don’t need it. A plant that isn’t doing so well can be yanked out and retried another year. The goal here is to encourage the kids, not expose them to chemicals.
Children Love To Plant Giant Sunflowers
One of the best plants for encouraging children to garden and make it a WOW moment are giant sunflowers. They grow so quickly, you can practically see it happening! Have the kids measure it’s growth every week. That way they get to practice some math skills as well. Once the sunflower has gone to seed, it will be covered with seeds that are well loved by birds and squirrels alike. Before getting rid of the dead stalk, cut off the seed head and place it in a tree or under a bush. It becomes an instant bird feeder.
Read Gardening Books With Your Children
Another way to encourage children to become interested is by reading books about gardening. One of my favourites is Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert. It is a simple book that talks about the tools used in the garden and uses proper terminology about gardening. It also tells about the planting and harvesting of vegetables for making vegetable soup.
Your children will be interested in gardening if you are. They will learn to love gardening if you do these few simple things to make their first experiences positive ones.