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Let’s get out there and grow some food this year! Got questions? Need some help? Here’s a fantastic article full of great tips on introducing your kids to gardening:
Start small. Before you introduce a full-out garden to your children, you can show them the basics through simple projects. A growing jar is a great way to start: fill a medium-sized jar with a damp paper towel, place a few dry beans between the inside of the jar and the moist paper towel, and place in a sunny window. Leave the jar lid off and add water every few days to keep the towel moist, then note the changes in the bean as it sprouts and begins to grow.
Try container gardening. You don’t need a yard or large plot of land to reap the benefits of gardening. A sunny patio or apartment balcony can hold a few pots with herbs, strawberries, or cherry tomatoes. Just be sure to water them often, as containers tend to dry out more quickly in the middle of a hot summer.
Encourage exploration in the dirt. Let your child get messy, dig in the dirt, hold earthworms, turn compost, and make mud pies. Part of the fun of gardening is the sensory exploration involved. Child-sized shovels, hoes, rakes, and wheelbarrows are available and encourage children to work alongside you.
Help children plant fun plants. Plants that grow quickly are really rewarding for children who can become impatient easily. Sunflowers grow quickly, seemingly before your eyes, and have large seeds that are easy for children to plant. Let your child plant a row of sunflowers in a sunny spot and count the days until they grow taller than your child! Plus, the large blooms will attract all sorts of pollinators to your garden.
Don’t forget about the insects. Part of the joy of gardening for children is learning about all the insects that inhabit them, beneficial and pest alike. Order a praying mantis egg sack or ladybugs online and release them in your garden. Children will enjoy learning about natural ways to control pests by pointing out the “good guys” as they do their job controlling pests.