These days, it seems like everyone is looking for ways to get kids outside more. Gardening is near and dear to my heart, which is why I wrote the book, Project Garden. (Find out how you can win a copy of Project Garden here.) It’s filled with recipes, gardening ideas and just general backyard/outdoor projects. I also work with kids regularly, offering gardening classes as part of my Master Gardener volunteer work through area rec departments. For people looking to get kids outside and into the garden, here are my top ideas. I hope it helps encourage a new little sprout in your life!
1. Find a Community Garden Plot. Not everyone has the space to have a garden in their backyard. If this is the case for you, then look around for community garden plots in your area. You can rent a space and grow anything you want.
2. Give Them Their Own Space. Anytime you can call something your very own, it just means more. This is also the case with kids and a garden. You don’t have to give them a huge plot in your yard. Just a small square or a corner of the patio with containers will be enough. Then let them choose what they want to put in there. It might be tempting to choose for them, but it’ll mean so much more to them if they can take full ownership.
3. Let Them Choose Their Own Plants. This can start at home by going through seed catalogs or looking online for inspiration. But then take them to a local nursery or garden store and let them pick the seeds and plants for themselves. Like anyone else, kids enjoy walking through the aisles of plants, soaking up the options all around them.
4. Grow Something They Can Eat. The garden-to-table lesson is a priceless one. Luckily, veggies are one of the easiest plants to grow. So pick up a pack of carrot seeds or a tomato plant, and let them plant in a sunny location. Again, let kids pick it out themselves. They’ll be more likely to eat it if they pick it out. Plus, there are lots of cool options out there like purple carrots and orange peppers. Look around, and help them get excited about growing healthy options.
5. Put in on the Calendar. With summertime being the prime gardening time for kids, it’s easy to let it take a backseat to other activities. Don’t forget to put it on the calendar just like you would for anything else. The most important thing you’ll want to remember is to keep plants watered. So add a note to your calendar, and keep a checklist so they feel proud to accomplish all gardening tasks…watering, weeding, harvesting, etc.
6. Look for Garden Classes for Kids. Many botanical gardens, libraries and other community programs offer gardening classes in spring and summer. Get involved in your local organization, and sign up for one of these classes. They’re often taught my master gardeners, volunteers and other garden lovers, so you’re naturally getting who is passionate and eager to teach the next generation.
7. Try a Project. There are oodles of great new kids gardening books out there, and there are many old favorites as well. So go to your library or local bookstore, and pick one up. They offer great inspiration for backyard projects. Then commit to trying one or two of these projects over the spring and summer. You can even try making up your own project—like this Lego bird feeder here!
8. Start a School Garden. Okay, I saved the ambitious one for last, but starting a school garden or even a community garden with kids is a great way to be involved in a garden from start to finish. Kids will really take ownership of something like this and be proud of the end results. If you’re interested but want to start small, check with your local library or community organization and just beautify a small area first. You can always grow it bigger later.
Good luck growing a love of gardening in your family and backyard!