Gardening with Kids — Fall Edition

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Garden season has come to an end in the Midwest.

I know, I know. I’m sad about it too. This weekend, my husband pulled out the rest of the plants (including the carrots which I had forgotten about!) and we said goodbye to summer. I guess that’s fitting, since it snowed three days ago, but it’s still sad for me.

Gardening has been such a fun adventure. Sometimes it’s frustrating and confusing, but mostly it’s a joy to put a seed in the ground and watch it turn into a real plant. I know that shouldn’t surprise me, but it always does!

My kids love it as well, and it has been… interesting… to figure out how to garden with their “help.” They love to dig and get dirty and put seeds in and pull weeds and pick the veggies. It’s just not always in the right order or with the right amount of force, so we’re working on it.

Here are some things I have learned…

How to garden with kids:
1. Accept imperfection. This should really be for ALL gardening, because you never know how things are going to go. Weather and seeds and soils don’t always cooperate the way you expect, so don’t expect your first (or fiftieth!) attempts to come out perfect. Then, take into consideration that kids are new at EVERYTHING, so they will probably ruin some of your best laid plans on top of that. So, just get ready to have fun and see what happens. Be happy with anything that grows!
2. Explain what you’re doing and why. It would be a lot faster to just do it yourself while they watch, or just tell them to dig in the corner while you plant the real plants. But this is a great chance to educate your kids on the value of taking care of the planet, growing things ourselves, and finding joy in simple things. Take a chance to teach your kids about compost and how things break down to turn back into dirt, or tell them about seeds and how amazing it is that they have the energy they need inside their shells to grow up to the surface and send roots down for water. These things we take for granted are MAGIC to kids!
3. Give them simple tasks. Have them dig a hole and then “finish” for them to make it the right size/shape/depth. Put one seed in their hand and show them where to plant it. Put the seeds down in the right spot and ask them to help you gently push the seed in the dirt with one finger. Let them water the seeds in the ground. They just want to be part of the fun, so let them do a few things to help you, and remember tip #1.
4. Let them have at it. Especially for things like spinach and carrots that you’re going to have to thin out later anyway, just let them throw the seeds down and if they have too many in one spot or not enough in another, it’s fine. It’ll all work out. The best is to have them help you scatter wildflower seeds; they really can’t mess it up!
5. Make them responsible for something. Whether it’s reminding you to water the plants, watching for the first leaves or flower buds, or telling you when the tomatoes are red and ready to be picked, giving them a job and making them feel important keeps them engaged (and hopefully makes them careful with their plant babies).

Please let me know if you have other tips for gardening with kids, and in the meantime, check out these articles below for more ideas and encouragement!

two hands full of rich dark compost
I wrote a blog post about my love for composting. I know, it’s kind of crazy. Anyway, here’s a list of things you might not know are compostable. Check it out HERE.

Here’s a post I wrote back in April about planting a garden for Earth Day. It’s more about how to get started if you’ve never gardened before, with just a quick cameo from these babies! Check it out HERE.

Wondering if gardening with kids is even worth the hassle? Here are ten reasons why it is! (You can ignore the fact that it’s also an ad for a “garden kit” product. The list of TEN reasons is great!) Read it HERE.

I’ll be back soon with holiday cooking tips and recipes! Happy Sunday!

– Leah –

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