School is letting out for the summer, and your kids will need to
stay occupied. What better way to keep them busy at home than with
their own garden? Kids are natural gardeners. After all, have you
ever met a child who didn’t love to get dirty or splash in water?
Shoot, maybe all it will take is for you to substitute the word
for dirt, and you can be on your way to introducing them to the
joys of gardening!
School is letting out for the summer, and your kids will need to stay occupied. What better way to keep them busy at home than with their own garden? Kids are natural gardeners. After all, have you ever met a child who didn’t love to get dirty or splash in water? Shoot, maybe all it will take is for you to substitute the word “soil” for dirt, and you can be on your way to introducing them to the joys of gardening!
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that kids are impatient. They like to see results – soon – not two months from now. This means starting with already-started transplants or even 4-inch potted bedding plants and vegetables instead of seeds. Even with such “instant” growth, though, there are still some flowers and vegetables that are better than others.
Some sure-fire flowers for kids can include: bachelor’s buttons, cosmos, marigolds, hollyhock, impatiens, morning glory, nasturtium, sweet pea and sunflower.
Veggies to consider are: bush beans, cucumbers, leaf lettuce, radishes, pole beans, tomatoes, zucchini, basil, dill and mint.
For small children (about 7 years of age and younger), it’s vital that they have fun. You can help make it fun by doing such things as scratching a child’s name into a young pumpkin. As the pumpkin grows, the child’s name will grow, too.
You can also grow a vegetable in a jar. Once the vegetable vine is up and growing well, lead the end of a vine into the narrow neck of a jar. If you’re growing a cucumber, for example, as the cucumber blooms and begins to grow, it eventually will grow too large for the jar’s neck opening. Neighbor kids will wonder how your child got that cucumber into that narrow jar.
You can even personalize a small garden for individual children. It doesn’t have to be big; any small area will do. Rope it off and let the children make their own sign, distinguishing it as their garden. It’s fun to give it a theme, such as a “pizza garden,” where they can grow several tomato and pepper plants along with some sweet basil and oregano. Or they can make it Peter Rabbit’s garden with mixed salad vegetables. Just such a garden was featured at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle one year, complete with topiary rabbits.
Try some experiments. Plant some melon seeds under a black plastic sheet and some other melon seeds in typical garden soil.
Have the children record the differences between how quickly the two seed groups germinate, how much fruit they produce and how much weeding and watering the different plants need.
They’ll learn how the black plastic absorbs the sun’s heat, speeding germination and reducing moisture loss from the soil.
Use your imagination, and your child can have fun in the garden, too.