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Getting kids in the garden

April 8, 2010
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

I was recently asked a question in regard to children and getting them interested in gardening. My boys have been 'into' gardening since they were babies due to the mere fact that this is where their mom was at any time that I wasn't working. They like to take their Tonka's through the dirt and yes, in part, they like to be up in the garden because there they have ownership in their work. And hey, what boy or girl doesn't like to dig around in the dirt anyway?

Kids should be given a small part of the garden that the size of their plot can grow with them as they get older and can handle a larger area. If you don't have a place for them, then how about letting them put together some container gardens instead. The biggest part to where the garden is should also be that they can see it or even better be able to direct family members easily to their garden so they can show it off. Because just like we big gardeners, they like to show off what they are doing in the garden and show people how hard they have been working that particular summer.

The next big step is to set aside some time to allow them, with your assistance if they are in the younger crowd, to go to area greenhouses and let them pick out what they want to plant especially flowers.

You can go through a seed catalog with them or while you are at the nursery, let them view the seed packets that are available. Let them choose what they will have and not have in their garden. If it is about vegetables, then let them choose which ones that they like to eat. You will need to keep to the easier things so that they don't become frustrated when things don't exactly come out the way they wanted it to. Sweet corn may take a little more room but if you let them plant a small patch before you plant your other patches, this will be the first sweet corn that you will probably eat.

Kids will make a mess out of their gardens at first and it may not necessarily be the most weed free place you have in your garden. But as we all know, we learn by our mistakes each and every day. Kids need to learn that if they pull up every radish just to check and see how big they are, then there won't be any radishes later to eat. However, parents can always put in a few cents worth of advice and see if they are willing to follow it.

Books always work well for introducing kids into gardening. There are many great kid picture books that will help them get their minds turning on the subject of gardening. These area: the Carrot Seed by Ruth Kraus; The Gardener; Planting a Rainbow; City Green; Flower Garden by Eve Bunting; the Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall; The Garden of Happiness by Erika Tamar; Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert; Sunflower House by Eve Bunting and The Good Brown Earth by Kathy Henderson.

For more information about gardening with children, you can go online and get some great ideas for activities, just type in gardening with children. For more information about gardening, you can reach me at 823-4632 or email me at



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