Gardening with young children

Gardening is a great summertime activity to enjoy with children.

Looking for a great summer time activity for children, or a wonderful way for families to bond and spend time together in meaningful and relatively inexpensive activities? If so, gardening can be just the thing! It doesn’t matter if you have ever raised a garden before, how much space you have, where you live or even what age your children are.

To begin with, you’ll need to make some choices about your garden project. Do you want to plant a vegetable garden or a flower garden? Will you start with seeds or purchase plants already started? Of course, you could decide on a combination. Where will you plant your garden? Is there space in your backyard or in a nearby field? How much space you have will impact what and how much you plant but remember there are lots of options like raised bed gardens, and bag or pot gardens that make use of small areas like patios or balconies. The bottom line is that gardens don’t have to be square or in a big area. Garden areas can be planted in a circle or triangle, in the backyard, in flower pots on the balcony or even in small corner areas around the outside of your house.

Once you’ve settled on a garden type, location and size, the next step is to work together to come up with a plan. Will you plants rows of vegetables? If so how many rows will you have and what types of vegetables do you want to produce. Are you planning to use flowers to add color around your yard? If so, does the area get a lot of sun or is it mostly shady? Are there specific colors you would like to focus on? Do you want something that blooms for a long season or do you want to combine different plants that bloom in different seasons?

The tools you need depend on the size and type of garden your family selects, but basic tools might include a rake, shovel, garden hoe, hand trowel, garden hose or watering cans. Many stores also carry these same tools in kid-size versions that are shorter and smaller – just right for a young child.

There are some special tips for gardening with young children helping to make it a good experience for everyone involved. Provide lots of options, like digging holes for plants or putting seeds in the trenches, so that everyone can be involved. Remember that young children look for instant gratification, so consider including radishes which grow quicker in your vegetable garden, or select flowers that will bloom this year. When caring for the garden, young children can enjoy weeding alongside the rest of the family but may have more trouble telling the weeds from the plants so consider having them weed and area with plants that do not look similar to the plants and don’t let an accidently pulled plant stress you out.

Gardening has all kinds of social, emotional, health and nutritional benefits including: spending time together; facilitating teamwork, cooperation and communication skills; increasing time spent outdoors in a natural environment; stress reduction; time spent learning together with family members, friends and/or neighbors; increased physical activity; promotion of adding more fruits and vegetables to the families diet; and experiencing accomplishments as a team. So, garden; it’s good for the whole family.

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