I’ve always wanted to do some gardening with my kids, but last year, my daughter was just a little bit too young to understand the concept. Sure, she helped me pick the green beans from the bush, but she wasn’t interested in watching the plants grow and she didn’t care about caring for them.
This year she’s obviously a little bit older, and I think she’ll be a lot more excited about the entire process, from planting the seeds to watching them grow and, finally, to eating them. Plus, she thinks it’s a lot more fun to get dirty this year, so if nothing else, she’ll get to play in some dirt!
In order to prepare myself for growing vegetables with my daughter, I’ve been reading Gardening with Young Children by Sara Starbuck, Marla Olthof and Karen Midden. The book is geared toward gardening with infants through third graders, and since my daughter is nearly two-and-a-half years old, she falls onto the younger end of this age range.
I haven’t made it very far into the book yet, but already I’m impressed by the resources available throughout the book. It’s not a slap-dash book with tips and tricks for gardening with kids. Instead, it’s filled with research about why gardening with kids is important, ways to incorporate growing into your daily life, and lots of appendices to help you get started. I also like the way the book is formatted, with lots of big photos and great examples of ways to help bring even more education components into the garden (think math, journaling, science, dramatic play, etc.).
I’ll admit, I am a beginning gardener. I’ve only planted vegetables for a few years, and in the past I’ve traditionally planted my seeds when the weather turns warmer (which can be pretty late in the year here in Minnesota). I’ve never been overly concerned about whether they survived or not. Sure, I took care of the plants well and I always got excited when I was able to harvest something to eat, but I never got too bent out of shape about it if nothing came up. I’ve always taken a fairly lackadaisical approach toward vegetable gardening.
This book is making me rethink that approach, though. I’ve always enjoyed the process of growing plants, and if, along the way, I can share that joy with my daughter, why not take it a little more seriously? There are lots of other benefits for me, too. I’ll be able to feed my family healthy, fresh, pesticide-free vegetables with a much cheaper price tag, and I’ll be able to teach my daughter a few things along the way. There’s nothing more exciting for me than watching her learn, so that alone could be a huge incentive for me.
So far, Gardening with Young Children has inspired me, and I’m thinking about starting some seedlings indoors this year. I’m already a week or two behind schedule, but I think it would be something fun for my daughter and I to do together. I think we’d both enjoy it a lot!
What do you think? Have you ever spent time gardening with your kids? If I decide to start some seedlings this week, what tips and tricks do you have for me? Which tools and supplies would YOU recommend? If you look below, you’ll see I found another book about gardening with kids that looks interesting (I haven’t read it, so I don’t know if it’s good), and I also found all kinds of cute little kids gardening tool sets.
Stay tuned this week for some additional information from Gardening with Young Children, including ways gardening with kids can be beneficial, tips for making the gardening process more educational, and more!