As far back as I can remember, my father has gardened and encouraged me to join him. Once I became an adult, it seemed only natural to create a garden of my own. I realized that gardening is something I want my children to enjoy as they got older, too. If you’d like to get your child interested in gardening, here are some tips to get started:
Home herb gardens
Even people who don’t have a large backyard can create a small windowsill garden indoors. Suggest that your start a few herb seeds in a sunny window. I’ve had good luck starting basil and parsley seeds inside. If you have a cat, consider growing cat grass in a sunny window. Your pet will enjoy the treat.
Lending a hand
If you already have a garden, your child will enjoy helping you. Teach her to recognize which plants are weeds, and how to carefully remove vegetables from the plants when they’re ripe. Even the youngest child can help water the garden with a watering can. A few age-appropriate books and videos about gardening and plants can be fun as well. If your child demonstrates interest, get some small garden tools and gardening gloves.
Grown Their Own
If your child is old enough, give him a corner of your garden to call his own. Let him choose an easy plant to grow and care for. If you want something edible, try cucumbers or peas. If you have a flower garden, let him grow sunflowers. Show him how to prepare the produce he’s grown.
Make it a learning experience
While you work together, explain how plants grow, why they need water and sunshine, and the difference between organic and non-organic farming. Your child can also help you with the compost bin, and you can explain how composting works. Help your child build a bird feeder to attract birds to your garden. Try identifying the butterflies and other insects you see, and explain how pollination works.
Keep it Fun
Your child will enjoy gardening more if the experience is low-key and companionable. If you are a gardening perfectionist, confine your exacting standards to your own area of the garden, and let your child do things her own way on her piece of land. Don’t worry too much about “mistakes,” like overwatered plants or spilled dirt, let her get messy and have fun without trying to control the experience.
How else do you get your child interested in gardening?