There is no better feeling than to watch your plants grow and produce food for you and your family. It is such an accomplished feeling. This way of life and feeling should be passed down from generation to generation! Getting your kids involved in gardening is so easy and simply and what kid doesn't want to hang out with their parents!! I don't know about you but my kids wants to be attached to my hip all day, every day.
Teaching kids to garden is as important as teaching them how to swim! It gives them time to be active and experience nature. It can also be a great tool to teach valuable life lessons. Children who garden develop a bit a self sufficiency, a knowledge about where their food comes from, and patience. They also learn science. They can measure how far apart to plant seeds, learn about the life cycle of plants, find out about how bacteria decomposes compost material, and so much more.
10 Ways To Get Kids Involved In Gardening
1) Get them their own supplies - Nothing is more exciting than getting some new "toys" to "play" with in the garden. Their own pair of gloves, shovel, watering can, etc.
2) Let them make the holes and plant the seeds. -On the backs of the seed packet, it will tell you exactly the depth and spacing you should plant them. My daughter loves to make the holes. Although, she usually makes them to deep; just brush a little dirt back into the hole before she puts the seeds in. This is also great for developing their fine motor skills.
3) Allow them to water the plants daily - (the same time everyday) Kids love water, whether it's puddles, splash pads, pools, lakes, ponds or sprinklers, most kids will be thrilled to grab the hose and water the plants.
4) Let them help build the garden beds and/or prepare the beds by adding new soil, mulch, etc. - They will love to get the measuring tape out and build along side you, helping in anyway they can. Getting them involved in the whole process will only enhance their love for gardening. If you already have beds, then let the kids help add new soil. Spreading it out and turning it into existing soil.
5) Let the kids transplant the plants into their new homes in the garden. - They will be so excited to plant the established plant into the garden soil. Teaching them to be gently and to pack the soil around the plants. Be sure to water after you've transplanted so the soil settles around the plant.
6) Take them into the garden to pick a snack. (My kids favorite part) Cherry tomatoes are a perfect easy garden snack that kids love. Nothing beats homegrown tomatoes!! Being able to reap the benefits of all their hard work will be a positive reinforcement.
7) Make garden maintenance a social activity
Once the seeds are planted and begin to sprout and grow taller, don’t let the work of maintaining the garden space become drudgery. Working side-by-side with your kids will show them you love doing it too and give them even more of a reason to do the "work", because they get to hang out with mommy/daddy one on one.
Offer a special treat after working in the garden, this could be a fresh snack right from the garden if it's harvesting time. If it's not, offer something you know your child will like. Incentives like these help kids associate their gardening time with positive and happy memories.
But it is a huge part of gardening and if you don't weed every 10-14 days your plants won't be getting as much nutrients as it could and needs.
8) Harvest day!! Let them harvest the crops alongside you. - This is usually everyone's favorite part. You start seeds months before gardening season, you care for your plants daily, you watch them grow and now they provide food for your family. Grab a basket, harvest your ready vegetables, rinse them and enjoy!
9) Let them get dirty!! This will make it more likely they will want to help next time, knowing that they are free to get dirty and have fun. Don't make it a chore. Know that children are going to get way dirtier than necessary in the garden. If you’re worried about it you may want to set a few pairs of clothing aside just for “garden days.”
10) Build a trellis fort - Create bean tepees and leave an opening as a door or set up tunnel trellises like those made from cattle panels. When the plants are mature the kid’s will have a shady little retreat. This is a great process to involve kid’s in too.
Here are a few other ideas to amp up your child's excitement:
Read gardening books - Reading gardening books lays the foundation and get the kids even more interested in gardening.
Designate one bed as the kids garden - If you have the space designate one bed for the kids. Let them pick what they want to plant and let them experiment in it.
Let the kids pick a few vegetables they want to plant and grow - this will make them even more excited and interested in the whole process
Garden crafts - Painting rocks for the different vegetables. Writing on a rock what vegetables are where. Make a bird house or create a little sitting area in your garden.
Tips & facts below!!
Starting seeds months before last frost. 2-3 seeds per cell.
Keep soil moist, do not let the soil dry out. Keep a cover over the plants to keep it humid inside, this will up your germination success. It will also keep your soil moist.
Transplanting and packing the soil around the plants. Be sure to harden off your plant a week or two before transplanting them outside. Doing so will ensure your plants don't get plant shock and die.
Harvesting! Did you know the part of broccoli you eat is actually baby flowers that haven't opened yet. Once the flowers open, the broccoli tastes bitter.
Water daily. Early morning while it is still cool. This will allow the water to run down into the soil and reach the roots of the plant without too much excess water lost to evaporation.
When the seedlings start to emerge, you will notice multiple plants in one cell (if your germination rate is 50-100%) As they grow they will need more room. This is when you will thin them out and transplant each plant into its own slightly bigger pot.
Harvest number 2! Don't forget to succession plant. This means you plant seeds at different times (a few weeks a part) to have a continuous harvest throughout the year. Vegetables I succession plant: carrots, radishes, beets, celery, lettuce, spinach, green onions, beans, broccoli, dill.
Did you know bell peppers are technically fruits because they contain seeds?
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