Life with JTP: Gardening with My Kids

Parenting Topics

My dream would be to have the most amazing green thumb and I try so very hard, but I also struggle. Who’s with me? Sometimes I take two steps forward only to take 10 steps backward. I plant a flower here and realize it’s supposed to be over there. I plant a bush there and discover that it will do better in another location. But, then there are those moments when there’s a great match and I can’t help but celebrate the victory.

Ever since we moved into our home a few years ago, we’ve been eyeing the garden in our side yard. When we moved into the house, the garden was full of all sorts of overgrown flowers that needed a bit of TLC. So, we kept an eye on the garden while planning our dream raised garden bed. We couldn’t help but think of ways to have homegrown vegetables, fruits, and herbs. And, we knew that the side garden area was going to be the perfect place for our raised garden bed. We were determined to grow vegetables and experience gardening with our kiddos.

Thanks to my incredibly handy father-in-law, he took a photo that I found during one of my countless “raised garden bed” searches and turned it into reality last spring. After a weekend of incredibly long hours and hard work, my father-in-law (with the help of my husband), created a raised garden bed that would soon be filled with all sorts of veggies planted by my mother-in-law and me.

Once the garden was complete last spring, we filled the garden with eight tomato plants (yes, you read that correctly … eight as in 8 as in we have picked a ton of tomatoes and there are still a ton that have yet to turn red), onions, habanero peppers, bell peppers (green and red), rosemary, parsley, and oregano. In the back garden (the part that is open), we planted zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, and pumpkins.

We had so much fun going into the garden to see what happened overnight. Our son took so much pride in his garden (yes, he thinks that the garden is completely his garden which is just awesome). He loved checking on it every evening and picking all sorts of vegetables that were ready.

One of my favorite garden moments was when we planted the pumpkin seeds. He absolutely loves pumpkins and cannot wait for Halloween every year. He was awfully confused when I showed him the pumpkin seeds. He just couldn’t wrap his head around the fact the the seed was going to turn into a pumpkin … and then it happened. One day, we were checking on the garden when we stumbled upon a tiny little pumpkin that started to grow. He yelled, “PUMPKIN!!!” and made it a point to check on it daily. To see his eyes light up was one of the many highlights of having this garden. Our daughter is even into checking on the garden. Start them young, right?

Even though I’m still working on growing my green thumb, having my kids by my side while I garden opened up so many teachable moments. A few weekends ago, we tended the garden and planted all sorts of veggies and even a blueberry bush with my kiddos by my side. Not only does gardening teach kids about hard work and patience, it also helps to improve life skills and well-being, as well as starts a positive connection between the child and the environment. From getting kids outside to enhancing fine motor skills to encouraging exploration, getting kids excited about gardening is incredibly important.

10 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Gardening

Here are simple ways to get kids excited about getting their hands dirty in the garden.

1.) Buy Kid-Friendly Tools

Go into any grocery store, Target, or Walmart and you’re bound to find a section dedicated to gardening. What I love most is that companies are now targeting kids by having gardening tools and gloves with some of their favorite cartoon characters. Pick up gloves, a bucket, and a few tools to help your kiddo get familiar with gardening tools and their various uses.

2.) Pick Out Flowers

As you peruse your flower options, have your child pick out a few flowers that appeal to him/her. Once home, show your child how to plant a flower and then have your child plant the flowers that he/she selected while at the store. Over the spring and summer seasons, you can have your child take ownership of the flowers by having him/her water the flowers.

3.) Create Fun Pots

I went to Walmart and purchased a Terra Cotta pot and base for only a few dollars. I stopped by the paint section and bought a tube of white paint. Once home, I squirted some paint onto a paper plate, dipped my kids’ hands into the paint, and then pressed their hands on the pot to create hand prints around the pot. I filled the pot with dirt and flowers and placed it on our porch. The activity only cost a few dollars and was the perfect activity for busy toddlers.

4.) Get Them Involved

This year, my husband and I did major overhauling of a lot of our gardens throughout our yard. Since our kids are younger and we have a completely fenced in backyard, it was so nice to set out our kid-safe gardening tools and have them grab tools and help. They walk over to the garden, dig little holes with the shovel, plant flowers, and help move mulch. It was so cute to watch him work up a sweat as he voluntarily pitched in to help us with the garden. He took such great pride in his work.

5.) Find Animals

While my son was helping me overhaul the gardens, we kept finding worms. I would pick up the worms, show him the worms up close, and then we would name them before placing them back into the ground. We tried to see how many worms we could find while we worked in the gardens. He loved looking for the worms and naming them.

5.) Introduce Tasks

Talk your child through each task you’re doing and why you’re doing it. That way, they can start to learn why certain tasks are done in the garden. Eventually, your child will want to try out the task. Our kids are very independent and like to do things on their own. So, once I explained what I was doing, they wanted to try their hand at it.

6.) Water the Flowers

I love watching our kids water flowers. They will drag the hose all over the yard and try to water the flowers. For our screened-in porch flowers, I have a smaller watering can that they can grab. They take it up to the sink, ask me to fill the watering can, and then take the full watering can out onto the porch and water each of the flowers.

7.) Plant Seeds

Buy a kit and plant seeds. Have your child water the seeds and watch them as they grow and grow. Be sure to pick seeds that are quick growers so that they keep your child’s attention throughout the weeks.

8.) Grow Edible Plants

Plant some fruits and vegetables to teach your child about where food comes from and how it grows. Get a basket and head out to the garden to pick the fruits and vegetables once they are mature and ripe.

9.) Plan Dinner

If you end up planting edible plants, why not create a meal plan centered on your fruits and vegetables? Get your children involved and see what types of meals can be made from the food in your garden.

10.) Make It Fun

Last but not least, make it fun. Kids wants to get dirty. Kids want to splash in the water. Kids want to play with bugs. Embrace your inner child and get dirty, splash in the water, and play with bugs with them.

What’s your favorite way to get your child excited about gardening?

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