How To Share Your Love Of Gardening With The Kids In Your Life
written by guest blogger Scott Jenkins
When my brothers son was a toddler it was quickly becoming obvious he was different from the other kids. He was very hyperactive and would fidget a lot. He would spend most of his play time moving from toy to toy, quickly becoming bored with whatever was in front of him.
There were two exceptions to this, however. He would play with his coloring books and Lego’s all afternoon when he got a new book or a new box of Lego bricks. He seemed to enjoy being constructive and creative with his time versus just casually playing.
How We Hooked My Nephew On Gardening
It was late winter and he was delicately coloring in a pink Power Ranger at our kitchen table. Our collection of coloring books was basically infinite but I couldn’t let him just sit there and color when he was over for a visit. I wanted to find something we could create together.
I remembered how amazed I was at his age by a small project I had done in elementary school. Each student planted a bean seed in a cup of soil and was responsible for tending to it. I was amazed when it first broke through the soil and I was so proud when I got to actually eat a string bean that summer.
That day we took a short break from coloring Power Rangers and planted a bean seed in a yogurt cup I pulled out of the recycling bin. He wasn’t terribly interested at the time but when he came back over a week later and there was a tiny green thing sticking out of the soil he became over the moon excited. We immediately planted the rest of the seeds and I knew he was hooked!
For years I was able to get him to come over and garden with me. He lost interest here and there along the way but with a few tricks I was able to reign him back in. Here’s how we did it.
Let Them Have Their Own Garden
The smaller it is the easier it will be for them to manage. Even a couple large containers will be enough in the beginning and they’ll be excited to get more pots or an actual small plot of land next year.
Don’t Buy Cheap Toddler Tools
You can buy a colorful kit that includes a few tools, gloves, and a bag for around $20 but the quality is really poor and they really don’t need anything more than a small shovel. You can get a small shovel for them for just a couple dollars and paint the handle and shovel itself any way you want. This makes for a fun project to do with them too.
Plant Seeds That Grow Quick
If you’re making a wildflower garden plant seeds that grow fast and will flower often. Black Eyed Susan’s and Cosmos are both a great choice for this.
If you’re planting a vegetable garden turnips and lettuce are a good choice. Even if they won’t eat either of those they’ll get a kick out of watching you eat them.
If you want to grow something they may eat carrots and grape tomatoes as both a great choice.
Build A Scarecrow
When their interest starts to wane a bit in the middle of the summer there are a few ways you can focus their interest back on the garden. One project that they always get a kick out of is building a scarecrow.
Kids grow like weeds so I’m sure they have some clothes that are too small for them in the back of the dresser. An old pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt is all you need. Stuff them with straw to form the body and stuff a pillowcase to use as a head.
My nephew is a young man now but he remembers our garden vividly. There’s always a place for him in mine but I suspect that when he gets a place of his own he will have his own garden. Hopefully he will set a small part of his garden aside for me to grow some beans in with his kids.