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» How To Plant a Kids’ Garden

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Growing a garden is something you can share with your kids and will give them a greater appreciation for how plants grow.
Growing a garden is something you can share with your kids and will give them a greater appreciation for how plants grow.
School is almost out; so now what do you do to keep your kids occupied until the school bell rings again?

Why not start a garden with your kids this summer? It has all the ingredients kids love; from digging and preparing soil to choosing their own plants and crops to grow, planting seeds or seedlings and watering and caring for the plants until harvest time!

There are two basic things to keep in mind when planning your kids’ garden; how much space do you have available for the garden and how old are your kids?

If you have younger children, just a couple packets of seeds and a couple plants each of tomatoes and peppers or a couple rows of corn makes for a big garden world even if it seems like a tiny garden to you.

It’s much easier to care for a small garden than to make something that is a chore for both you and your kids; remember that weeds pop up and watering and fertilizing a large garden can be time consuming. Miniature vegetable varieties can be more fascinating for smaller children to grasp.

Watching sunflowers grow to full size is a delight for any child to behold.
Watching sunflowers grow to full size is a delight for any child to behold.
Digging and soil preparation is one of the most exciting parts of gardening for kids. Let them use their own plastic shovel and garden tools or even a wooden kitchen spoon. Once you have the soil tilled and ready, use some organic compost or sphagnum peat with a ratio of three or four cubic yards per 1,000 square feet of garden space.

Even if you have very little garden space or live in an apartment or condo, a small corner of the balcony can be large enough for a kid’s garden in containers.

If you have older kids, age five to eight, you might try growing a larger vegetable garden with tomatoes, corn, peppers, lettuce or other greens, radishes, melons, carrots, peas, squash and your favorite herbs. And sunflowers are always a child’s delight; they’ll love watching them grow from tiny seedlings until they are taller and bigger than themselves!

Label plants in your kids garden and let them decorate the space to make it their own.
Label plants in your kids garden and let them decorate the space to make it their own.

Select flowering plants that excite the full senses of sight, feel and smell and let your kids have a complete sense of ownership of their garden. If you have a larger garden, set aside a section just for the kids and let them mark it with colorful decorations to make it their own space.

Older children will learn about different plants’ needs, the insects that live around and on them and how each variety grows and develops. Such lessons are invaluable in helping your kids understand the natural environment and how ecosystems work in the larger world around them.

After digging, planting, watering and weeding their garden all summer, your child will have a better appreciation for how plants and crops grow and you will both have had a great shared learning experience!

Kids’ Gardening Tips and Ideas

  • Plant a Mini Garden – Make a space for a child to grow plants near your own garden, even if it’s just a small sectioned off area of yours. Provide a child sized watering can, and a sign with the child’s name on it in the garden.
  • Watering Can for a Child – Don’t be too exacting in what you expect of them. The idea is to gather enthusiasm at this moment, rather than actual produce, but do help them out with their questions and watering chores and so on.
  • Keep Them Interested – By sowing plants that will sprout and grow quickly, such as lettuce, radishes, and perhaps marigolds to add color. Or select plants that will stagger their harvest time. A tunnel of flowering climbers will make a play house for kids that will interest them as it grows over wire hoops that you put into the ground.
  • Giving Kids Ownership – Lightly scratch your child’s name into a young pumpkin or something else growing on a vine and watch the face or name grow and change shapes, or plant the initials into the soil in green leaf lettuce or garden cress and watch as those initials fill in.
  • Your kids will have hours of enjoyment in their own kids garden!
    Your kids will have hours of enjoyment in their own kids garden!
    Use Caution in Your Kids’ Garden – Many plants are poisonous as they grow; avoid these so that the risk of ingestion is minimal for your child. Keep toddlers away from ivy, most flowering bulbs and philodendron and instead encourage sunflowers, things which are not toxic should they be ingested.
  • A Private Space – One way to hold the child’s interest is to draw a square in the soil and plant an outline of plants that will grow tall and make a private little room. One perfect plant for this is a sunflower which will give them privacy in their garden room.

All of these ideas will help to keep small ones interested in what you are doing, and keep them with you in the garden, developing their own love of the outside as well as planting.

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