by Paige Puckett—
My natural tendency is to be bossy. I’m a first born, and I’m used to getting my way. However, when it comes to teaching my kids to garden, I have to balance my desire to do things the right way with letting them explore and experiment on their own. For instance, I did insist that my four-year-old plant pole beans next to a pole, but when he chose to put fifteen beans in one hole and was very excited about doing so, I let it ride.
We spent the entire day visiting a nursery, perusing the farmer’s market and then planting our garden. My oldest was a huge help, and the youngest tried his best to keep up. One potted tomato plant was dropped, several flowers were pinched off the marigolds, the bed of lettuce had the hose dragged across it, corn seeds were tossed on top of mulch by the almost two-year-old, and my spade was stolen on more than one occasion. There was also a nice layer of dirt in the bathtub once the water drained and happy exhausted boys to tuck in that night.
Garden Activities for Kids:
Seeding corn and beans is a great way to introduce kids to gardening. These seeds are easy for little fingers to grab. Beans make for easy picking down at their height, and corn makes for dramatic growth and excellent hiding places. If you are planting the two in the same bed (which can be beneficial), give each kid a handful of mixed seeds and a stick and show them how to poke a hole in the ground and stick a seed inside. Don’t be picky about the spacing of their holes. Simply let them overplant and you can thin things out later once they sprout.
Another good activity is having kids help dig holes for the tomatoes and peppers, and then fill the dirt around the plants. Show them how deep they need to go with the shovel, and then brace the plants with your hand as they push the dirt back around them. My four year old would dig out the dirt and put in into an empty pot so it didn’t get mixed in with the mulch. He was nervous about hurting the plants, so he had me take them out of the pots and put them into the holes.
Paige Puckett and her husband Joe, both in Land and Water Engineering fields, grew up with hands-on experience helping parents and grandparents in vegetable gardens and creating wild adventures in their expansive backyards and nearby creeks at their respective country homes in Tennessee and North Carolina. Now that they have two boys of their own, they try to engage them in the outdoors despite the obvious confines of downtown living in Raleigh, NC. Paige shares their lessons learned, garden projects and photos at her Love Sown blog.