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Kid's GardensThere is nothing more delightful for a child than planting a seed and watching it grow to something beautiful or something to eat. Gardening is one of those timeless activities that all ages can enjoy together. It's a great way to spend quality time as a family. Your children will need very little persuasion to come play in the dirt. You will find them eagerly lined up ready to go if you follow these few simple ideas.

Make Gardening Child Friendly
Use child size tools. Don't expect your three year old to be able to handle an adult size watering can. Plus it is just more fun if you have your own gloves, trowel and watering can. Give your budding gardeners their own size wheelbarrow and you will have hours of free entertainment for them. They won't want to quit.

Let them do activities appropriate to their age - three and four-year-olds will love digging in the dirt, putting plants and seeds in and watering. Elementary age kids will enjoy helping plan and pick what goes in the garden along with the planting. They can weed and help maintain to some degree. For the ten and up crowd, gardening can also be a science and math adventure as they get involved in measuring the gardening area, learning about composting and making sure plants have the proper sun and nutrients.

Let your child have a spot of his own.
Allow him to choose his plants and do his best. A few mistakes won't hurt and he won't care if the rows are straight or not.

kid's gardensChoose Plants That Grow Easily
You will want to choose seeds easily handled for the smaller crowd. Pumpkin, green beans, sunflowers and peas are nice big seeds that toddlers can plant one by one. Teach them to never put them in their mouth and eat them.

It also helps to have vegetables or flowers that grow quickly. Children tend to be impatient and want fresh veggies the day after planting! Radishes are an excellent choice - it can be planted early and grows very quickly. Peas, green beans, lettuce and baby carrots are all vegetables that grow quickly. For quick results in the flowerbed use already started plants from a nursery. Flats of flowers and veggies produce results kids can see right away. Plant sunflowers. You can see them grow almost daily.

If you don't have a yard to plant a big garden don't let that stop you. Herbs, cherry tomatoes and other miniature veggies will grow in a container as well as in the ground. You can buy strawberry hanging baskets that do the trick too.

Pick A Theme
If you really want your child to get into gardening pick a theme for your garden. The ideas are endless. Plant a Pizza or Salad Garden, Petting Zoo Garden, ABC Garden or a Jack in the Beanstalk Garden. Herbs are good choices for a Scented Garden. Go wild and crazy and plan a Crooked Man Garden where nothing grows in straight lines, make your garden a maze or even better put up so poles and make a Bean Pole Tee Pee.

Gardening is a hobby you can enjoy through all its many stages - spring through fall. Let some plants go to seed and harvest the seeds for next year's garden. But remember, no matter what you and your children decide to grow it's the fun and excitement of actually being together and making something special. Whether you plant cherry tomatoes on your back porch, prize winning marigolds in your flower bed or green onions - the time you spend together will grow and blossom into something that will endure after the last bean has been picked. And isn't love and togetherness the best thing to plant in your garden after all?

Theme Garden Ideas!

Pizza Garden - Roma tomatoes, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, oregano, basil, green onions, parsley and chives

Scented Garden - any herb will work - Basil, Lemon Thyme, Mint, scented Geraniums, Dill, Lavender

ABC Garden - pick a plant that starts with each letter of the alphabet

Petting Zoo - plants that are fun to touch - Sea Pink, Lamb's Ear, Mint

Peter Rabbit's Garden - plants featured in the story - Beet, Radish, Mint, Lemon Balm, Tansy, Lavender, Chamomile, Hyssop, Sage, Rosemary, Strawberry Fourth of July Garden - plant flowers that are red, white and blue

Animal Garden - Pussy Willow, Dogwood, Cowslip, Horse Daisy, Tiger Lily, Lamb's Ear, Spider plant, Snapdragon, Catnip

Sensory Garden - things that involve all five senses - Lamb's Ear for touch, Lavender for scent, Basil for taste, Poppy for eyes (bright colors), and chimes for the ear to hear.

Belinda Mooney is the mother of seven children and editor of www.learningtreasures.com and www.childrensrecipes.com.


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Robyn's Nest ~ Gardening with Kids