All Fun, and No Work: 5 Tips for Gardening With Your Children

All Fun, and No Work: 5 Tips for Gardening With Your Children

For as long as I can remember, my parents have had a big garden. Big is a relative term, but I mean big - like quarter acre big. Growing up, I worked in the garden with my parents, and for me it was always a lot of fun. When I'd call my friends to get together and play on Saturday, they'd almost always tell me the same thing, "Maybe later, I have to go work in the garden". I always thought it strange that they would say that, because our garden was 10 times bigger than theirs, but by Saturday, ours was all weeded, watered, and fertilized, and they had "work" still to do.

Gardening shouldn't be work, it should be fun, relaxing, enjoyable, stress-relieving, and most importantly, delicious. Teach yourself, and your children, how to have fun in the garden, so it becomes a joy and not a labor. Follow these few easy suggestions to keep your kids invested and engaged in gardening. Otherwise, it will become work. They won't want to do it, and you'll miss out on a great opportunity to spend valuable time with your children having "fun" together. Think about it, is there a better reason out there to have a garden? Here are some of my simple suggestions to make gardening fun for you and your family.

1. Start small. Too large of garden will very quickly become overwhelming and too much to handle. Small can always be increased next year.

2. Let the kids grown their own plants. Do something easy to start, like a zucchini plant, or pumpkins if you have the space. They produce like crazy, and the kids will feel successful quickly. Always keep in mind to be positive with their results - good or bad. When my daughter planted 2 lbs of pea seed (enough for over 200’) in a 30 foot row, my reaction was, “Great! They will be extra thick this year!” That was not my initial exclamation, which I just kept to myself.

3. Garden in short bursts. 20-30 minutes here, 40 minutes there, always in the early morning or evening when the temperatures feel more pleasant. If you try to do it all on Saturday morning, you'll be "working" every weekend. A little every day turns into "no work" on Saturday.

4. Don't hesitate to experiment. New, exotic, and different plants catch children's attention: multi-colored chard, yellow watermelon, UFO spaceship shaped squash, purple potatoes, or rainbow carrots. Hundreds of fun, exciting varieties wait for you to try them.

5. Don't be afraid to fail. You're almost destined to have a failure or two each year, but it's a learning process to garden, and if you don't fail, you won't get better at it. Also, your children will learn that it's ok to fail, everyone does at some point, and that there's always next year to try to succeed again.

Follow this simple advice, make up some fun garden activities of your own, customize your plans for the different needs of your children, and you'll be having fun in the garden in no time. Make gardening fun, for you and your kids, and leave the "work" to someone else.

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