Growing plants together is an excellent summer activity for a number of reasons, from imparting your kids with more responsibility, to teaching them about how things grow and where our food comes from. Whether you are just getting started for the first time or headed into another season, here are a few helpful tips and ideas.
This article by Heather, at Dollar Store Mom, has a list of excellent suggestions for gardening with your toddler. One of the first things she mentions is the importance of giving clear verbal instructions to your child, especially the littlest ones! When teaching him or her how to work with plants, the underlying goal is to give your child the autonomy and responsibility to manage the task on their own, even if the end result isn’t perfect.
Another helpful article with a few suggestions on how to start gardening together, Melissa & Doug (https://verified.codes/Melissa-and-Doug) suggest creating a special space for your child to do his or her own gardening. Perhaps more appropriate for children age four and above, this option provides more autonomy and may work better for you if you fear micromanaging. It also may work well if you prefer to work by example. Your child can replicate what he or she sees you doing, rather than you providing them with step-by-step instructions.
If you want to garden with your kids, but do not have a preexisting garden, start here! Bonzai Aphrodite’s hanging tomato plants can be assembled in an afternoon and will allow you and your kids to create something that is handcrafted, together. This is also great if you don’t have much yard space to speak of, or if you would prefer to have a container garden. The fun of growing vegetables together is that your kids will get to see—and taste—the fruit of their labor.
If the temperature isn’t just right for long enough to garden outside, Fun at Home with Kids provides a tutorial on how to create an indoor bulb garden. This is another container garden for space issues, but it is even more flexible in that it allows you to be indoors if you need or prefer to be. Bulbs can be finicky when planted outdoors, plus they require months of pre-planning to bloom successfully. Monitoring them indoors prevents losing them in the ground and may be the best way to guarantee that you see them sprout!
Once you see how easy it is to allow produce staples, like romaine lettuce, sweet potatoes, and celery, re-sprout, you may just have to try it yourself! Parents magazine provides a picture tutorial on how to plant an odds-and-ends garden, with instructions on how to allow a variety of vegetables to sprout on your kitchen windowsill. This project may be ideal for you if you want to grow some veggies at home with your kids when starting from seeds outside in the dirt seems a bit daunting. With some success, this may encourage you to move to outside gardening in the coming years.
…but lacks a green thumb, or the desire to cultivate one (and hey, that’s totally fine) perhaps making garden markers instead is the way to go! There are plenty of ways to create fun and pretty markers for your garden, this is just how Lu Bird Baby did hers. Popsicle sticks work wonderfully, too.
There are so many directions you could take while gardening with your kids, many more than listed here. Whether your motive is to educate or just to have fun, to grow something pretty or something to eat, try to have as much fun as possible.