How to Garden with Kids

Arts and Education, Growth and Development

Get your kids interested in gardening by getting them outdoors and into the garden. Gardening with kids should be a hands-on experience. Get dirty and have some family fun digging, planting and learning about nature. When supervised by a responsible adult, kids as young as preschool age can garden. Consider one or more gardening projects designed just for kids.

Marigold bed. Marigolds are a hardy, easy-to-care-for annual that thrive as a bedding plant or in containers. They are easy to find at your local DIY store or nursery and generally are inexpensive. Their flowers are vibrant in colors of red, red-orange, orange and yellow, making them a fun choice for kids. To create a marigold bed, section off an area of your garden that receives full sun. Allow your kids to dig the holes and plant each marigold. Lyle Pyeatt, a master gardener from Santa Clara County, Calif., suggests planting each about 6 to 12 inches apart. Taller marigold varieties need a bit more space, about 12 to 18 inches apart. Kids can take an active part in marigold care by keeping the flower area weed free and watering the plants to keep the soil moist but never saturated.

Toad abode. Toads are totally cool, a helpful garden critter eating pests that may harm vegetables and flowers. Create a Toad Abode that offers a shady, moist area for the toad to rest in during the heat of the day. For the abode, you will need a medium-sized clay pot. The kids can decorate the pot before bringing it out to the garden. You will also need a trowel, a few damp leaves and a tin pie plate. Have the kids dig about 3 inches into the soil where you plan to set up your Toad Abode. The hole should be slightly bigger than the pot. Set the pot on its side in the hole, burying it about halfway. Add a few damp leaves for the toad’s bed on the inside. Set the tin pie plate filled with water, close to the Toad Abode. Check frequently for visits from your toad.

Pizza garden. Plant a pizza garden with your kids! Together grow the fresh ingredients for homemade pizza including tomato plants, onions, bell peppers, basil and oregano. Shop for the plants together in the spring and have the kids prepare the soil for planting. Plant each ingredient, and throughout the summer, help the kids tend and nurture their garden. When it’s time for harvest, the kids can plan their own pizza party, making homemade pizzas from the ingredients they grew.

Butterfly garden. Several varieties of flowers attract butterflies. Marigolds, lavender, daisies, day lilies and more will draw butterflies to your garden. Visit a how-to website like one at the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture to learn more. With your kids, you can learn which plants will draw butterflies, how to plant and care for them, and even about the beautiful butterflies that will be visiting your garden.

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