Gardening with kids should be part of our family legacy. Gardening teaches so many wonderful skills, not to mention kids love to eat what they grow! I’d like to share my 10 reasons for gardening with kids and some great ways to get them started.
Gardening with Kids
I believe a child’s garden should be part of every family’s backyard farm. My youngest daughter has always been in the garden helping; I’ve seen the difference it can make first hand. But for now I’ll share my Top 10 Reasons to get Gardening with Kids. I hope it encourages you to get your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews out in your vegetable garden very soon!
10 Reasons To Start Gardening with Kids
- A Child’s Garden Encourages Healthy Eating – when kids grow fruits, vegetables and herbs they eat more of them. They are excited to try produce that, normally they’d have turned up their noses to. Kale is a perfect example, or Swiss Chard; my kids looked sideways at these veggies when I brought them home from the store. But once we had them growing in the garden, that they helped to plant and tend, it was a different story!
- Gardening with Kids Teaches Them a Valuable Life Skills – when children garden they learn to provide for themselves. Growing our own food isn’t a skill most modern adults have, much less children. This is something that should be passed on as a legacy of self sufficiency.
- A Child’s Garden Teaches Appreciation – When I kid knows first hand the time and work that went into providing the food they are much less likely to waste it. They learn to appreciate the fruits of their labor, so to speak. Many adults find this when gardening for the first time too!
- Kids Gardening Means Less Screen Time – In our modern world our children spend a lot of time in front of tvs, computer, tablets and phones. There is nothing like a garden to get the out in nature!
- Gardening with Your Kids is Family Time – when parents (or guardians) garden with children you create a special bonding time. This is create face to face time, no distractions. I’ve been able to have some pretty awesome conversations with my kids over soil.
- Kids that Garden Will Grow Up And Pass It Down – A child’s garden can become a legacy and a beautiful vintage skill that gets passed down from one generation to another.
- Gardening with Kids is Great Exercise – That’s a win-win for both of you! I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that kids these days are not active enough. I’ve seen research that says this generation may be the first to live a shorter life than their parents. I know gardening can’t fix it all but digging, hoeing, building boxes, pulling potatoes…you can get that heart pumping and break a sweat!
- A Child’s Garden it Educational – As a homeschool family we look for opportunities to teach outside of the “box”. A garden offers kids a natural learning opportunity. Gardening really is science! From seed growth and photosynthesis to how the soil is alive. Older children and teens might enjoy Gardening for Geeks as a text. For younger children check out this free gardening curriculum. Don’t forget the math of planning a garden and figuring cost of growing vs buying at the store.
- Gardening with Kids Teaches Problem Solving – If you are a gardener you know that every beginner has issues. But most of us use our failures as lessons but learning how to fix them; kids will too! They’ll learn from your experience and from doing their own reading and research.
- Your Child’s Garden Will Give Them a Sense of Pride – When a kid serves their friends and family a salad full of the vegetables from their garden there is a real sense of accomplishment and pride. There is nothing quite like providing food for the people you love. Not to mention the bonus of sacrificing their time and energy to the benefit of others (giving).
The Best Vegetables for Children’s Gardens
These vegetables are great when you first start gardening with kids! They are easy to grow, will grow in a variety of spaces and most kids love to eat them.
In my experience, radishes are the easiest vegetable to grow. They’ll grow in boxes and pots too. Radishes are also pretty fast vegetables so they’ll be something to harvest quickly. Because they are a root vegetable you’ll want to start these where you plan to grow them, no transplanting. I know store-bought radishes are not everyone’s cup of tea but there are some amazing varieties that have more mild or sweeter flavors. See Radish Seeds
Most kiddos love carrots – a sweet root veggie. No while carrots are pretty easy to grow, they do take some patience because they are slow growing. In my years of gardening I have never found one that grows as fast as the seed packet says it will; but they are worth the wait. I have grown carrots in pots, 6 and 12 inch garden boxes with equal success. And you’ll never have a better tasting carrot than the one you eat right out of the garden! Did you know there are purple carrots? See Carrot Seeds
Most gardeners will tell you to start with tomatoes as a beginner. They are one of those vegetables (which are actually a fruit) that will grow just about anywhere. Growing tomatoes are good for learning how to prune for growth and you can keep growing the same tomato bush for several seasons. Kids typically like cherry tomatoes but you might be surprised by all the fun smaller varieties that you can grow! We love the Yellow Pear.
The hardest thing about growing zucchini is what to do with it all! With a good harvest we can usually share quite a bit with neighbors, friends and family; because we get tired of it. I recommend starting your zucchinis inside about 4 – 6 weeks before you’re ready to plant them outdoors. We often the Black Beauty variety. See my tips on growing summer squash.
Be sure to check out these amazing zucchini recipes for your harvest!
Bells are a wonderfully sweet pepper that kids usually love to eat. They are truly an easy vegetable to grow too! They typically do well in warmer weather and ours have survived the the long hot Phoenix summers! They also come in a wonderful rainbow of colors, though that does not really change the flavor in my opinion. See Bell Pepper Seeds
Tips for Gardening with Kids
- Make it fun – they are more likely to do it again if you have fun with it.
- Set goals together – decide what your goals are for your garden. Maybe a salad or salsa garden only to start?
- Keep it simple – sometimes just starting a simple herb garden is best. Don’t feel like you need a dozen square foot garden boxes!
- Keep it organic – your children really don’t need exposure to any pesticides!
- Order some seed catalogs to look at together. See Seed Catalogs You Need!
- Plant what you eat first – sure I encourage variety and trying new things but the first few veggies should be ones they eat already.
Further Reading for Your Child’s Garden
Here are a few books you may want to consider as you dive into gardening with your kids.