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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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