Kids in the Garden One of the easiest ways to introduce young children to gardening is to give the children a row of their own to plant and look after. It is a good suggestion to make their row away from your gardening area. Little feet get tripped up on a regular basis and your plants may be stepped on. Little ones also like to pick things in the garden whether it is time for harvest or not. This will help alleviate any chance for frustration on your part while also allowing little ones to really take ownership and pride in their own independent endeavor. Allow the children to learn from the mistakes they make in the garden. Digging up a seed they just planted to see if it is growing yet, is not going to produce anything. While your natural instinct may to be to reprimand this type of behavior, take a step back and realize that this behavior provides a lesson just as important in understanding how things grow and thrive. Use this opportunity to explain and clearly illustrate how the garden grows, or doesn’t grow, and how seeds germinate and pollinate. You can then suggest they leave the remaining seeds in the ground so they can grow and see what happens next. When bugs invade the garden, explain the importance of using natural organic pesticides as opposed to chemical pesticides. Allowing them to spray their plants with an organic pesticide such as a mixture of garlic, red pepper, soap and water will not harm them if it comes into contact with their skin. Although, it is important to remind them that these sprays are for the bugs only and they should try very hard not to get any on themselves or on anybody else. When the vegetables the children have planted finally reach maturity, encourage the child to pick the vegetable gently so that the plant will be able to continue to produce more. Let the child bring their vegetables inside and show them how to wash them thoroughly to clean them for eating. The best part of harvesting is, of course, getting to feast upon your garden’s bounty. Look for recipes that will allow
the children a hands-on opportunity to participate in preparation. Allowing the children the opportunity to help you prepare a dish using the vegetables they have lovingly grown and have picked out of the garden lets them understand the whole food process full circle. Your children are sure to beam with pride when they are allowed to prepare a meal using the vegetables they grew and share it with the whole family. Not only does gardening help teach children about plant life as well as offer a lesson in patience, it is also a sure way to get them to try different vegetables. Kids are super excited to eat what they grew and this may be the first time many kids are willing to try a vegetable that they formerly turned their nose up at. Once they try the new veggie, they may just find that they like it!