5 Tips for Gardening with Kids

The truth about gardening is that is doesn’t have to be difficult!  Follow these 5 steps and you can’t go….well too wrong anyway.

1  Pick a Spot:  IfCommunity Gardens you have a back yard, pick a spot that gets a fair amount of sun.  If you live in a condo or apartment ask if you can take over an area to plant in.  (You have to make sure it is an area where they will not spray pesticides if you plan to plant veggies.) You can go the route we went and join a Community Garden.  It is a great way to meet people and the best thing is there are always experienced gardeners around to ask for help when things are not working as you think they should.

broccoli from the garden
We learned that those little green bumps in broccoli are actually flowers and if you don’t pick it right away it blooms into a beautiful head of yellow flowers!

2.  Dig Up the Dirt.  Once you have your spot, dig it up!  Don’t let those experienced gardeners worry you with their talk of soil pH and nitrates or whatever that was they keep telling me about.  It is mumble jumble to me.  I am sure if you learn all that, your garden will be better, but the point here is to get started.  If you want to grab some organic fertilizer and water it in every month or two, that can’t hurt!  You can learn more as you go, the important part of this is to get the kids out in the dirt, growing veggies and eating them! They will learn right alongside with you!

3  Choose Your Plants: Let the kids help you pick out what they want to grow.  My daughter loves to grow multicolored carrots and purple green beans!  I buy some plants already started and grow others from seed. (Beans grow like crazy and you really can’t go too wrong with them.)  Go the garden center and read the back of the packets of seeds.  They will tell you how much sun the plant needs Garden Plotso you can decide if you have a chance of growing them in your garden.   I usually use tomatoes and pepper plants from the garden center rather than seeds, others like sunflowers and green beans we start from seed.

Don’t make it hard on yourself.  We live in a condo and there is no way I can start growing from seed here and then transplant.  You guessed it, we just stick the seeds in the ground and hope for the best.  Again, your results will be better if you do it the way the Master Gardner tells you, but you will still get results this way.  Heck, it’s the way nature does it!  Why not?  If the seeds don’t work you are out 25¢, and you go back to the gardening center, buy a strawberry plant for $2 and replace it.

We also like to experiment with different foods.  Do you have some old potatoes, an avocado pit, or a pineapple top?  Plant them!  You will be amazed at what happens.  Hmmm I guess I will have to expand on those options in another post.

4.  Kids Love Bugs:  Every year we start to have problems with bugs.  My daughter actually Sunflower & Ladybugloves this!  Call around to your local gardening center and ask who has lady bugs, they run between $5 and $10.  Your kids will flip over this!  You can release the lady bugs in the evening (keep them refrigerated until you are ready to let them go).  Make sure you have your camera ready, so you can get pictures of the reactions as the lady bugs crawl on the kids. I got some of the best shots of our sunflowers and kids with lady bugs on them!

If you want to look like a super parent, look up the life cycle of a lady bug and let the kids see how nature and bugs work together.  A great site is Kids Growing Strong, they have a cute page about lady bugs.

5. Watering System: This is optional, but for me it is an essential.  Our community garden Auto Water Timerplot is far enough away from home that I can’t possibly make it over there everyday.  I thought it was going to be very complicated, but once I figured it out (with the help of the nice people at home depot), it was easy!  (Don’t forget to spray the kids with the hose!  Make it fun, and don’t be afraid to get everyone dirty!  Your making memories here, make them good ones!)

Seriously Ugly Home Grown Carrots
Seriously Ugly Home Grown Carrots

Remember, this is an experiment that you doing with your kids!  Last year our sunflowers were beyond amazing.  We also learned not to plant our carrots too close together because they come out like aliens!  This was not a failure, because we had so much fun eating and gawking at the crazy shapes our carrots came out in.
If you really want to get into the spirit, take a trip to the $1 store and pick up some decorations!  Fun is the name of the game here!


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