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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Smiles in Bloom: 7 Ways to Introduce Gardening to Your Kids

Photo by Lee Ruk (Flickr)

Are you a novice or experienced gardener? Gardening provides numerous physical and emotional benefits for your entire family. From grandparents to toddlers, everyone in your family can experience smiles in bloom while gardening, and here are my top seven ways to introduce your children to this fun and beneficial hobby.

1. Visit Community Gardens or Farms to Spark Ideas

During a field trip to a local community garden or farm, your kids can learn more about which plants grow in your area, how to lay out a typical garden, and which jobs must be done to keep a garden healthy. These lessons spark creativity and help your kids think about what your family garden might look like.

2. Start Small Window Sill Containers

Whether you live in an apartment or wish to start small, consider growing a few herb containers on your kitchen window sill. Your kids can pick out herbs like mint and basil that they enjoy eating or ones like lemon balm and lavender that feature an appealing aroma. As your kids choose, plant, and water your small and manageable container garden, they see plant growth in action on a manageable scale.

3. Assign Individual Plots

Instead of one big garden that everyone works on together, section off your plot into individual areas. Smaller plots are more manageable and fun for your entire family, since each person can choose what to plant and the take responsibility for nurturing their section.

4. Provide the Right Tools

Any task is easier with the right tools, don't you agree? Your kids can safely dig in the dirt, pull weeds, and water plants with tools that are easy for them to handle. I suggest you pile in the car and drive to the gardening center where your kids can hold and carry different-sized tools. Once you're home, teach your children how to use those tools properly to ensure safety and fun.

5. Grow Interesting Plants

Think about all the plants you could choose to grow in your garden. Which ones would appeal the most to your children? Would they like to touch wooly lamb's ears, taste juicy tomatoes, or hear corn rustle in the wind? Maybe bright sunflowers or a fun green bean trellis would capture their attention. By choosing fun plants, you set up your family's garden for success.

6. Assign Chores to Everyone

Most likely, you have one or two kids who aren't very interested in the garden. Get them involved in your new adventure by assigning gardening chores to everyone. Take turns each week watering, weeding and checking for new growth. With age-appropriate chores, all your kids can discover the joy and rewards that come with nurturing the family garden.

7. Start a Small Compost Container

My girls love adding our kitchen scraps, yard waste, and newspaper to our compost bin because they know those items become garden vitamins. Your kids might enjoy composting, too, especially when they see that nutrient-rich material improve plant growth and quality. Use guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency to teach your kids how to start a home compost container and what to put into it.

Introducing your kids to gardening opens up a world of wonder for them, not to mention the delicious produce and beautiful flowers a garden produces. You'll enjoy seeing smiles in bloom when you introduce your kids to gardening with seven easy steps.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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