Gardening is easy and fun. Kids and parents get a free pass to play outside, and the little ones learn about where food comes from, plus important life lessons like patience and delayed gratification. Waiting for the harvest doesn’t take a few hours like on the popular online game Farmville, the process of real farming is much longer.
The first thing you need to think about is what you want to plant and the amount of gardening space you have. If you have a balcony and you enjoy cooking, maybe an herb garden is right for you. If you have a larger outdoor space, consider planting tomatoes, green beans, carrots or cucumbers. Decide whether you want to start your garden with seeds, seedlings or starter plants, depending on how fast you’d like your plants to bloom and then get ready for your fun family adventure.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
• Hoe for turning soil and weeding
• Spade for digging
• Garden rake
• Hand trowel for planting
• Watering can or hose
• Sprayer for controlling insects
TOP 5 KID-FRIENDLY CROPS
Carrot seeds can be sown directly into soil. They prefer cooler temperatures and will mature in about 60 days. Small varieties are recommended for children.
Sunflowers will sprout in 1 week, become a small seedling in 2 weeks and buds will flower in 8 weeks.
Lettuce is a quick and reliable crop and also a good way to interest kids in salads. Keep the soil moist especially during the first two weeks. The seeds will germinate in 7-10 days.
Radishes germinate in 3-10 days. Plant in cool weather for a mild radish, or hot weather for a hotter radish.
Cherry tomatoes can be grown in containers. Plant in full sun, use seedlings rather than planting from seeds and add lots of compost.
TIPS FOR GARDENING WITH CHILDREN
Give kids their own garden bed or container Younger children should be given a smaller plot, but regardless of age it’s important to give them their own space. Consider converting an old sandbox to a garden bed. This will give kids a sense of continued ownership of a familiar space and will encourage a sense of responsibility.
Buy serious tools Stress the importance of the project by giving them the same tools you would use. Plastic gardening tools are worse than no tools at all. Let them use your tools if you can’t locate childsized tools in stores, but always under supervision.
Cheat You may need to help out your child by doing a little behind the scenes work, especially with younger children. Make sure they don’t catch you in the act while you spray fertilizer on the plants or remove pesky bugs from the tomatoes. What’s most important is that they did it all on their ‘own’.
Show off When guests come over to visit, make sure to point out the kid’s gardening project. Let them pick the fruits and vegetables during harvest and plan your family meal around the produce. Take a picture of the harvest and post it online for all to admire. The attention they’ll get is the best motivator.
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