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					Quad City Times, IA

Kids get kick out of gardening, but parents must show patience

By Christina McNamara

Planting spring and summer gardens can be extra tasking and less relaxing if
you’re chasing a child around your yard, trying to entertain yourself and keep
everyone safe and happy at the same time.
But kids can join in the gardening job and if you’re smart about it, they’ll volunteer
to help.

“Kids get into it. It’s not a chore until adults tell them that,” said Kate Nelson,
perennials manager at Wallace’s Garden Center of Bettendorf.

“Kids like to do it all — map out a garden plan, dig and take plants right out of the
container,” said Regina Clewell, youth program assistant for the Iowa State
University Extension Office in Bettendorf.

Let kids go to the garden center and pick out their own plants and tools, too.

“The most useful things are garden gloves and kid-sized tools because adult
tools are too heavy. We even have kid-sized kneeling pads,” Nelson said.

Pick up brightly colored pots and other things to make the project visually

“We have a lesson where kids grow sunflowers in the shape of a house,” Clewell

Themes are a hit with kids. A couple of suggestions:

“For kids, they like anything with a smell. Plant a pizza pot, with oregano, chives,
thyme and basil,” Nelson said.

“Try a salsa garden with tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeno peppers. Or grow a
butterfly garden. Pumpkins are easy, and you can plant other things with them to
harvest in the fall,” said Clewell.

For older kids, Nelson suggests garden journaling.

“Have them keep a journal to monitor when flowers bud and how long they’re
there. Have them watch fruit develop and see how many days from when they
see the fruit to when they can eat it,” she said.
And remember to keep kids on the job, focus on the process rather than the

“Make it fun and interesting, not focused on the outcome,” Clewell said.

Contact the Bettendorf News at

(563) 383-2396 or

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