It’s easy — and fun — to get kids involved in gardening, Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
1. “Start small,” says Zora Ignjatovic, an enthusiastic supporter of community gardens. She recommends using self-watering growing boxes as a handy way to begin.
2. A container can be a garden. Growing vegetables such as tiny tomatoes and herbs in a pot is an easy way to get kids gardening.
3. Garden in a bag. City Farmer author Lorraine Johnson came up with a unique way to grow tomatoes. On the roof of her house she grew each plant in a bag of potting soil. Now that’s a simple creative idea!
4. No dig. Want to get rid of the lawn and grow a garden in the backyard? Patricia Lanza has a great idea to help you get rid of the sod without the backbreaking task of digging out the grass. In her Lasagna Gardening book Lanza describes how to layer newspapers over the lawn. Instead of digging up the turf, this is a quick, kid-friendly method children can help with by laying the newspapers.
5. Raise the beds. In Square Foot Gardening Mel Bartholomew offers some great ideas for using raised beds. Not only does his practical advice help gardeners use every inch of space and incorporate good soil but a raised bed is self-contained garden that kids can reach easily.
6. Grow near water. Fruit and vegetable gardens need constant watering. Think about where the water source is located and how the garden will be watered. At GTGK, for example, kids use small watering cans. They dip their cans into large tubs of water, which often results in lots of water play, too!
7. Mulch for easy maintenance. Add a layer of mulch such as cedar or straw to the surface of the garden after planting. This preserves moisture and prevents the soil from drying out too quickly. Mulching makes garden maintenance easier for kids: they don’t have to water as frequently or worry about keeping up with the weeds.
8. Grow in sun and shade. Although most fruit and vegetables need at least six hours of sunshine a day, GTGK’s Sunday Harrison says that “red currants, leafy greens and lots of herbs will grow in a bit of shade.” Plants such as sorrel, chard and parsley grow well in shady gardens.
9. Get the soil right. Fruit and vegetables need good soil to grow. One of the best ways to improve your soil is to add compost. If you don’t have a compost bin in the backyard, mushroom or sea compost is available from garden centres. Kids like nothing more than digging compost from a pile and adding it to the beds.
10. Enjoy simple pleasures. The most important thing to remember about growing food with kids is to have fun. It’s all about exploring and connecting with nature. Kids are curious about their environment and experience joy in pleasures as simple as discovering worms in the garden or seeing butterflies or tasting that first fruit or vegetable they grew themselves. Take time to celebrate those simple pleasures.