Gardening with Children

KidGardenTitle

Gardening is both a passion of mine and a way of life, and it’s important to me that my children experience the joys of digging in the earth and growing food.  Gardening with young children is really quite wonderful – yes, you might have to re-do a few plantings, and some tasks do take a bit longer – but the sense of wonder and connection that develops from a child’s relationship with their garden is worth it.  Here are some of my best tips for gardening with children, from many, many hours spent in the garden with my two little ones.

Start Now

There’s no need to wait until children are older.  Bring them into the garden now, and integrate them into your work flow.  When my kids were babies, they were either on our back in a wrap or soft backpack, or they were on a blanket with a few toys.  We took frequent breaks to interact and play, and they enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine!

babywearing while gardeningbring your baby into the garden

Invite Their Help

Kids love to help!  Involving children in meaningful work such as gardening teaches them that they are an integral part of your family’s work.  They learn valuable skills, and feel a lot of pride.

moving organic materials to make a sheet mulch garden kid planting tulips

Use Child-Size Tools

A few years ago, I invested in some nicer-quality kid-size garden tools that I purchased from Montessori Services.  They have held up really well, and the kids love using tools that fit their hands and bodies.

Child-size rakekids help with sheet mulch garden

Involve Them in the Harvest

My kids LOVE to harvest!  After breakfast each morning in the summer, Ella and Everett each grab their “harvesting basket” and we go into the garden for our daily Garden Walk.  We pick whatever is ripe, and they place it carefully into their harvesting basket.  Usually, they are the ones that are totally aware of what needs to be harvested, and often make meal suggestions based on what is in their basket.

heirloom melon harvest sweet potato harvesting

Give Them Their Own Garden Space

Last summer, Ella had her own garden bed.  It was just a small triangle bed, but she tended it so lovingly!  She decided what would be planted, checked for weeds, watered the bed, and harvested from it.  This year, both Ella and Everett have their own beds, currently planted in Fava Beans, radishes, and potatoes.  They are planning to plant melons, corn, and sunflowers this summer!

Sunflower patch

Keep it Fun!

This might be the most important tip to remember.  Cultivating a life-long love of growing food begins with creating positive experiences for children.  Let them water the garden with a small watering can.  Create a big sunflower fort or green bean tee pee.  Make fairy houses amongst the rhubarb.  Share laughter and love, in the garden.

potato harvesting

Some of my favorites resources for gardening with children:

Gardening with Children – Little Mountain Haven

Creating a Magical Children’s Garden – Little Mountain Haven

Gardening with Children from Seeding to Harvest – MomPrepares

Planning a Children’s Garden – The Backyard Farming Connection

Books for inspiration!



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Comments

  1. Great article! Now how about “gardening with chickens”? I have two hens that have eaten most of my starts and dug out many of my favas. How can I train them to dig just the beds that need dug and poop off the sidewalks?

    • Teri Page says:

      When I have that question answered, I’ll be both rich and famous! We love the benefits of free range chickens on our eggs and tick populations, but the poop and scratching is a problem!

  2. We are building my daughter’s first raised bed garden this year! it’s gonna be a 4 X 4 raised bed where she has instructed she wanted sunflowers, carrots an cherry tomatoes. She is very excited about it. This was a great article!

  3. Such a great post! I have to admit, I often lose patience when gardening with my kids… The Pixie helped me plant peas this spring, and the rows are all crooked! I have to remind myself that It. Doesn’t. Matter. And that the important thing is her running to me, telling me that the peas have sprouted! :)
    Yup. I have to keep that, and this post in mind when it’s time to plant the beans! :)

    • Teri Page says:

      I really have enjoyed letting the kids have their own garden beds for just that reason – it doesn’t bother me at all if rows are straight or there are too many radishes planted. It’s their bed to enjoy!

      Have fun gardening together!

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  5. Desiree says:

    I absolutely love this post! My 2 year old daughter was outside with me in the garden for 7 hours on Sunday and LOVED it. She REFUSED to wear shoes and loved becoming one with the Earth beneath her feet. It is so important to teach our children about nature and growing out own nourishment! <3 Thanks for this post!

    • Teri Page says:

      Thanks Desiree! My kids talk about “building up their animal pads” by going barefoot all summer long! I’m glad you and your daughter had such a great experience gardening together! It only gets better!

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