10 Ways to Foster Your Kid’s Interest in Gardening

Normalize a gardening routine early, and your kids will pick it right up. Gardening teaches patience, precision, and is filled with rewards when you’re able to enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor. Take these tips to heart, and raise children who can appreciate and understand what goes into building and maintaining a garden.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Hearthsong

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Make It an Opportunity to Try New Things

In my experience, kids are more likely to eat the things that they grow. If you have a picky eater, letting them grow their own plants might be just the trick to get them interested in new food. It also exposes them to the opportunity to learn how things grow. Did they realize that carrots and potatoes grew underground? Did they know that beans can climb high? Consider plants that they’ve never tried before — like leeks — as well as fruits and vegetables that you can eat straight off the plant, like cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, blueberries or spinach.

Show Them How to Start Seeds

Seed starting is a great small motor sensory project for toddlers and young school-age children. Teach them how to make small seed-starting pots (love this origami box tutorial!), or use peat pods or even upcycle ice cube trays. Show them how to moisten the soil, and then place 2-3 seeds per space. It may take 5-10 days for some seeds to sprout, but waiting for it to happen and watching the growth is exciting for budding gardeners.

Allow Them to Choose the Plants

Browse the nursery together. Whether you’re looking to plant an herb garden or making a pretty arrangement for the container garden on your front porch, let your child pick and choose what plants they like best. Take the time to show them what will thrive best in your environment (full sun vs. shade, for example), and don’t be too surprised if all of their picks have purple flowers (their favorite color, of course). Let your kids care for those baby plants all season long.

Plant an Indoor Garden

Choose a selection of plants like succulents, or cacti or keep a small planter of herbs on a windowsill. Let them experience the maintenance process — from transplanting to watering and managing sunlight — and let them happily take ownership for the well-being of their own garden.

Put a Garden Where They Play

Place a container garden near their sandbox or add a window box on their playhouse. Keeping the plants they like nearby makes it easy for them to monitor their growth.

Teach Them About Transplanting

Letting them get their hands dirty is a big part of the experience. Buying seedlings to transplant will allow kids to see how the root system of a seed develops within the pot. Show them how to carefully remove the plant from the container it was purchased in, dig a hole in the garden, loosen the roots and successfully transplant.

Tiny Gloves, Tiny Shovels

Tiny tools for tiny gardeners make tiny chores a little more interesting and personalized. You’ll be able to find the basic gadgets at your local garden center, and your kid will chomp at the bit for the opportunity to help you maintain the garden bed.

Make It Easy for Them to Access

The garden doesn’t need to be an off-limits space (as long as they understand the basic concepts, like don’t eat mama’s jalapenos), so if it is fenced in, make it easy for them to enter so they can explore independently. Also, consider strategically placed stepping stones so they can navigate between the plants without stepping out of line.

Teach Them the Importance of Watering Plants

Upcycle a plastic container — milk jug, juice bottle, detergent container — into a sprinkling can by drilling holes into the lid. Your kid will love tending the garden with this DIY watering can.

Make It Part of Your Daily Routine

Find 5 minutes a day to check in on the plants. Observe how much they’ve grown and how they’ve changed. Use the time to harvest food, and nibble it straight out of the garden. Let them take photos to document the changes in the plants, and reflect back on those images during the day.

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