You’re a gardener, yes? But are you also a parent or grandparent? If so, why not involve any kiddos in your life in a wee bit of gardening this season. After all, we want our kids happy and healthy right? It makes life a whole lot easier and more fun!
Have you ever thought about the garden as a place to foster happiness and good health in our children all in one-shot? I have and I think there are some big rewards available if a little time is invested.
Thinking a bit abstractly about gardening … there are lots of opportunities to bring out a smile or a feeling of contentment. Imagine weeding. Uh….no, that was a joke! Weeding might be satisfying to some but not to most and definitely not for kids! So what else is there…
How about the opportunity to be creative and take ownership of something? Freedom. Decision-making. That is something kids can usually rally around. So if you have a garden or are starting one this spring, give a chunk to a child to call his or her own. It can be their plot or pot to make decisions about.
What about the chance to build confidence? Anyone that plants a tiny seed and it grows into something big, beautiful and even edible, is going to feel a sense of accomplishment. This type of positive experience can build a kiddo’s self-esteem giving them motivation to try other activities and interests.
And then there’s the old-fashioned thing of spending time together doing something. Not being entertained by something, but doing something together or just nearby each other, outside. Hmmmm….
O.K. enough of the happy stuff, what about the health part.
If you believe food is the primary source of your well-being, (as I do) then you know gardens can play a big role in helping us feel good and live well. This is because they produce highly nutritious, fresh food – pretty simple.
By growing some of our own food and getting kiddos involved, we have a great opportunity to help our kids build good eating habits which can contribute to a lifetime of good health. We can get them to think beyond the supermarket as the place food comes from and maybe even beyond food commercials! Scary cool!
And there’s a few extras, like lots of Vitamin D (from being outside), keeping active and keeping the electronics all tucked away on their charging stations for when the time is right.
Sounds like lots of plausible reasons to get kids in the garden right? If you’re a believer, here’s some tips on how to make it happen and have fun.
- Start small, you can always add-on – Remember kids won’t want to spend big gobs of time in the garden. Short projects.
- Plant crops that grow fast – Instant gratification appeals to everyone!
- Go with non-supermarket friendly varieties – Things that look different compared to what we normally see or eat. Go for the purple carrots!
- Have an attitude of experimentation - If your child wants to plant in intricate mosaic patterns or just willy nilly, it’s o.k. If the plants are well cared for, they will produce.
- Be patient and be a partner – Perfection is not the goal, the goal is to keep your child interested and having some fun. Be a supportive partner when called upon (like when your child gets an in promptu invitation to go somewhere with a friend for a day or two). Pitch in and make sure their garden is watered and keeps going until they return.
- Follow Thru – Harvest, Eat, Enjoy! – Once the edibles become available be sure to consume them. This is really the best part!
One more thing…if this all sounds good but you are unsure about getting your kiddos to eat from the garden, check out my Kid Eats page. These are simple, yummy recipes that kids can make with the food they’ve grown. You know, for bringing it full circle – from planting to plate!
For Local Readers:
Come to my seminar at the Boise Flower and Garden Show on Saturday, March 22nd, 1:45 p.m. to learn more about “Sharing the Magic of The Garden: Digging In & Dining In With Your Kids.” Plus, there will be lots of plants, bulbs, tools, pots, garden art and more (even flamingos) just waiting for you to spot and find a place for in your garden! See a full list of the seminars here.