This past weekend my sister Susie (who runs this website with me) and I spent time cleaning up, amending, and sowing seeds in our garden beds at our parent’s home. As usual, with everything that we do, we always include our children – all six of them, ranging in ages from 1-8.
Since my children were itty-bitty’s, they’ve watched me sow, tend to, and harvest our garden year after year.
Along the way, they’ve always helped me in the garden.
They’ve tilled up the soil and amended,
transplanted and sown seeds,
and have helped harvest the fruits of our labor.
Although it looks like they’re great little workers, they’re young children. They usually help for minutes at a time before they’re off and playing in nature.
However, as they’ve grown, its been a blessing to see my boys step it up.
My oldest, big brother, is going to turn eight years old this summer. What simply made my heart melt this past weekend was watching my son take ownership and actually help me, really help me, sow spring seeds to begin our gardening year. Together we hoed the dirt, added compost, mixed it in, and then I handed him the onion starts and pea seeds and he did the rest.
His hands in work allowed me to get other things done in the garden. What a complete blessing to be able to see my baby that used to help me for minutes at a time, start to be an integral part of our family’s urban homestead. I couldn’t be more excited. The older he gets the more responsibility I’ll start to give him especially since we’ll be moving to a five acre homestead later this year.
The greatest thing about all of this is that Big Brother enjoys his time in the garden. He told me he was so excited to start planting in the garden again since he hates shopping. That’s my boy!
5 Simple Tasks Your Kids Can Do in the Garden!
It’s not always easy gardening with kids. They can take forever to sow seeds in the ground, accidentally step on newly transplanted plants, and harvest unripe fruit; however, through every error I like to encourage my kids and let them know they’re doing a great job. Trust me, there are many days I would rather garden alone (and I do garden many days alone for my own sanity); however, after having included my kids in the garden with me over the past eight years, the fruit in seeing my oldest boy garden on his own has made it all worth it.
With the bit of experience that I have, I wanted to share with you, five simple tasks that your kids can do in the garden!
1. Let Your Kids Start Seeds Indoors
A great garden task for your kids is to have them start seeds indoors. Together you can learn about the many different varieties of vegetables and learn how a living plant will emerge from a tiny seed. It’s so exciting for them to see the first sprouts of a seed they planted and seeing that gives them a desire to then take that plant and transplant it outdoors. Plus, if they’ve been indoors for a long cold winter, a little dirt makes the soul feel good.
Be aware, this will cause a mess and according to their age, they will need your supervision.
2. Let Your Kids Transplant and Sow Seeds in the Soil
This is a task most children enjoy doing. For the younger one’s, I usually dig out a shallow trench in the soil and have them help me sow seeds that are larger like peas, radishes, beans, and squash. As they grow older, I then let them help me with the smaller variety of seeds like carrots and lettuces. Be aware, some kids may only want to sow a few seeds and be done. If so, let them play. As long as they helped in planting even a few seeds, let them know that their help was appreciated.
3. Let Your Kids Water the Plants
Okay… what kid doesn’t like to water?! Yeah, they all do so let them at it! Be aware though, the younger they are, you will need to supervise and teach them appropriate methods of watering. Also, don’t forget a good water fight does the soul good.
4. Let Them Harvest
Big Brother always gets to enjoy the first juicy bite of the seasons first ripened tomato. He looks forward to it every year and let me tell you, he talks about it from the time we start our seeds indoors until the first tomato ripens into a brilliant crimson, red, orange, or yellow. He doesn’t think about the five months it will take to grow the tomatoes but instead he looks forward to the fruit of his labor and patiently awaits the harvest. The harvest is a special time and allowing your children to pick sweet peas, pull up carrots, pick beans, and harvest ripe tomatoes shows them directly what gardening is all about and excites them to continue in it. And, when you have a lot of vegetables to harvest, a hand to pick is always welcome.
5. Let Them Play
I don’t have any fancy lesson plans or gardening curriculums. I just let the kids get involved. I show them what I’m doing and allow them to help me. I share with them the different smells, flavors, and textures of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. I let them be a part of every living thing that gardening and creation is all about. I let them explore their surroundings, get dirty, and play.
Did I miss anything? Please share with us in the comments below any additional simple tasks that kids can do in the garden!