Gardening seems to be a natural progression in any child’s life. Children have been read and told stories about gardens since birth. Contrary Mary had silver bells in her garden, Jack couldn’t have saved the farm without the beanstalk, and Cinderella could not have gone to the ball without a pumpkin!
When gardening with children, try to think like they do. A salad garden consisting of greens is better identified as Mr. MacGregor’s garden. Here is a short list of other garden ideas for children.
• Find children’s books about gardening and read them together.
• Go through seed catalogs to let children choose exactly what they want to grow (it helps to include plants that are easy and fast-growing).
• Decide where to put the garden and individual plants; let them draw a picture of what they want the garden to look like.
• Start plants indoors using recyclable containers like egg shells, egg cartons, yogurt or cottage cheese containers, etc.
• Let children draw pictures of each plant on an index card; laminate and attach to popsicle sticks as row markers.
• Help the child keep a journal: what and when you planted, insect or weed problems, etc. Start taking snapshots early on the adventure.
• Help, but don’t do everything for them; help only where they cannot (insect control, watering, feeding, fertilizing).
Finally, it will be time for children to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Help them look through some of your recipes or find new ones to sample the crop. Let them help cook where possible. Encourage them to give excess away and can or freeze some, too enjoying the food in the off- season will be a confidence booster.
During the non-gardening season, children can still garden indoors in containers, discover planting songs, create skits, make-up crossword puzzles, or write a story about their gardening experience. Frame their initial garden drawing to hang on the wall or make a scrap book of the artwork, stories, pictures, and snapshots that tell of their exciting adventures in gardening.
The Junior Master Gardener and Learn Grow Eat Go programs are also geared for young ones. These programs are geared towards growing good kids by igniting a passion for learning, success and service through gardening education. Visit their website for more information along with a sampling of hands on projects. https://jmgkids.us/kids-zone/
The Smith County Master Gardener program is a volunteer organization in connection with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.