I live in Georgia, and its hard to believe, but its already that time of year again… I’m planning our garden and getting ready to plant seeds any day now. But did you know that gardening can be a family affair that benefits everyone? Even if you haven’t gardened before, its worth starting a small garden with your kids.
So… why garden?
There are many benefits to gardening as a family, they include:
- Teaching children where food comes from-Many children don’t realize how different fruits and vegetables are grown, or the work that goes into it.
- Teaching responsibility-If you give a child a chore, such as weeding or gardening, they can see how their work impacts the garden. You can also give children their own small garden space and give them the responsibility of planning, planting, watering, weeding and harvesting.
- Helps with both fine and gross motor skills-Watering and weeding help motor skills.
- Provides healthy food-Even the pickiest eaters will often try something that they helped grew and picked straight off the plant. My 5 year old “doesn’t like” sugar snap peas, but if they are right off the plant, she gobbles them up!
- Teaches Science and Math-School aged children can keep a journal of what is planted, successes, failures, harvest dates, and what they want to do differently next year. Our children also liked to measure plants, comparing the heights of our tomato plants to themselves and Mommy and Daddy. At one point, this even turned into a nightly dinner conversation at our table.
What can kids do?
- Plan Garden-older children can help plan the family garden. Or if you opt to give each child their own small plot, they can plan what to plant, where, and when.
- Plant Seeds and transplants-Bigger seeds like corn and beans are easy for little hands to manipulate. As children grow, they can work their way down to even the smallest lettuce seeds.
- Weed-My 2 and 5 year old are master weeders! And sometimes, its even FUN when the whole family is weeding together.
- Water plants-I think that watering plants comes in as a close second to harvesting plants in most wanted gardening activities.
- Harvest food-Harvesting is by far the most coveted gardening activity in our house. We take turns picking ripe veggies and then enjoy either an immediate snack or integrate that day’s harvest into our dinner meal.
New to gardening? I recommend checking out Square Foot Gardening. Its easy and organized! Looking for winning plants? Our favorites in the past have included: cherry tomatoes, carrots, peppers, green beans, and the fast growing radishes… even if no one wants to eat them!
Are you planning to have a garden this year? If so, how will your kids be involved?