Gardening with Kids

Planting a Garden with Kids - By Little Spoons and Spice

The sun is shining, trees are greening and the air is finally warming up. All these beautiful signs of summer mean it’s time to plant the garden. Whether you’re an experienced green thumb or a beginner, try getting your kids involved.

There are many benefits of gardening with your kids:

  • Educational
  • Exposure to the outdoors
  • Quality family time
  • Reduced screen time
  • Appreciation and understanding of where food comes from
  • Kids may be more likely to garden as adults
  • Kids are more willing to try new foods if they helped grow it

You also need to be realistic of what your kids are capable of, especially when it comes to attention span. Try not to overdo it by biting off more than your team can chew. Pace yourself and plan for short periods of work, knowing that the young ones may lose interest in 30 minutes or less. The last thing you’d want is for them to get frustrated or have memorable tantrums. Memories should be built on the positive experience of family time in the garden…that is what will keep them interested throughout the summer and in the years to come.

As for the Weichelt household, we planted our garden this past weekend. The kids had a blast and learned quite a bit. Lily was our master planter, in no time at all, she became a pro at helping mom put in the tomato plants (we planted 60 of them). Mason, is our super helper, he wanted to do everything just like Dad. If Dad needed help, he was right next to him being his right hand little man. Dylan and Logan aren’t quite ready for gardening tasks, but they enjoyed splashing in the water buckets and playing in the dirt, as little boys do.

Planting a Garden with Kids - By Little Spoons and Spice

AGE APPROPROPIATE GARDENING TASKS

Every child’s ability varies depending on maturity or cognitive and physical development. Parents need to use their own discretion when assigning tasks. These are general guidelines for gardening.

Younger than 3 years old

  • Hold/carry the seed packets until ready to open
  • Play with a kid safe plastic garden set in a section of the garden
  • Help plant large seeds with guidance (such as corn, beans, peas, squash)
  • Water the garden with a small watering can

3 – 5 years old

  • All of the younger tasks
  • Play a role in choosing what to plant
  • Assist with putting plants in the ground (e.g. tomato, pepper, and melon plants)
  • Harvest certain vegetables, with guidance

6 – 7 years old

  • All of the younger tasks
  • Pull weeds with guidance on which plants are weeds
  • Put plants in garden independently
  • Plant all seeds
  • Water with a hose
  • Harvest most vegetables and herbs

8 – 9 years old

  • All of the younger tasks
  • Use a shovel to dig
  • Use a rake
  • Use clippers to harvest vine plant produce, with supervision (such has melon, squash, pumpkins)
  • Start compost pile
  • Split perennial plants

10 – 12 years old

  • All of the younger tasks
  • Design garden
  • Prune fruit trees
Planting a Garden with Kids - By Little Spoons and Spice

Safety note: We do not run the tiller while children are present. Tillers can be very dangerous and should only be used while children are not around.

Easy vegetables to plant for kids:

  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Sweet Corn
  • Tomatoes (either purchase the plants or start early indoors)
  • Watermelons and other melons

Even though gardening appears to be a pretty safe family activity, there are some risks. Here are some resources from the National Farm Medicine Center to help adults safely assign yard and garden tasks to youth.

Planting a Garden with Kids - By Little Spoons and Spice

Planting a Garden with Kids - By Little Spoons and Spice

Resources:

“Community-Based Agriculture (CBA).” Cultivate Safety, www.cultivatesafety.org/cba/.
“Gardening Basics – Gardening with Kids at Home or School.” KidsGardening, kidsgardening.org/gardening-basics/.

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