It’s that time of year again, at least for my family. We’ve had a family garden for the last seven years, and it’s truly been a family garden. Each year the garden evolves into something new. We always have our tried-and-true favorites that we plant every year, but we always try to plant a few new vegetables, too. Some continue on, and others fizzle out. One thing is a constant and that is how my boys help from the beginning with the planning of the garden, preparing the garden for the next growing season, planting the seeds and harvesting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all laughs and smiles because I do get grumbles, but throughout the years I’ve come up with a fool-proof plan to get them and keep them involved in gardening.
Make It Fun
No one wants to do something that they think is boring or, God forbid, “work,” especially kids. Make gardening a type of game. Find out who can weed the fastest, play music while working in the garden, have a garden picnic, but most of all make it about spending time together and not about all the work that goes along with keeping up a garden.
Create a Space Just for Them
Children take so much pride when they can do something on their own. Set aside a small space that’s just for them. You can even give them pots if your garden space isn’t that big. They choose what plants they want to grow, and they take full responsibility of that area. It’s fun for them and you to see what plants come up and if they didn’t do well, why not?
Give Them Their Own Tools
If you want your children to help with the garden, they need their own gardening tools. It’s so much easier for children to help in the garden when they have tools that are the appropriate size. It also teaches them responsibility since they will need to take care of them and make sure the tools are put away just as you put away your tools.
There are countless opportunities for you to teach your children when working in the garden. You can teach your children how to identify plants, where food comes from, how to take care of something (this is perfect for children that want a pet) nutrition, sustainability, and then move into the kitchen and cook with your kids using all the vegetables you grew.
Involve Them in the Whole Process
Before you even plant the first seed, your child can help you prepare the garden and plan out what vegetables and herbs will be planted this year, and then as the garden progresses they can help weed, harvest and even suggest ways to use the vegetables that are planted. Some of my kids' favorite ideas are pizza, tacos and pies using our favorite plant, rhubarb.
Do you garden with your kids? Have any fun tips to share? I am always looking for ideas! If you are looking for new gardening ideas and growing tips, you can fun some fun tips on my website or check out my gardening Pinterest board.
Trina O'Boyle is a Drexel Hill, PA mom of two boys. This post is adapted from her blog, O'Boy Organic.