Children + gardening = joyful
Gardening and children, a wonderful combination. Rewards of life come in many ways, I believe spending time with kids planting seeds is one of them. Kids bring smiles, simplicity and inquisitive interest. Questions about the soil, what job do earthworms have, where does the seed come from? As adults , we take so much for granted until you see the garden through a child’s eyes.
Part of our young family lives in the city. They love visiting the farm and want to learn about all that we do. Hence, growing a garden with a 3 year old and a 4 year old has begun! Their parents helped make seed choices, which are of course, all of their favorite veggies and fruits. I’m convinced that marketing and designing experts in the horticulture field must be young hearted people! Seed packet displays are so colorful and who can resist planting “Teddy Bear” sunflowers ? How about “Easter Egg” radishes, “Gremlins” gourds and lookout for “Big Max” pumpkins! Short explanations for why “Sugar Baby” watermelons need lots of space to grow and what does “root crop” mean in regards to beets and carrots, were happily accepted. As we covered the seeds , they were anticipating how good their melons would taste! As seedlings emerge and grow , I send quick photos to share. Keeping the interest alive is so important.
Raised beds provide accessible options for small spaces. They can be accomodationg for both young and old gardeners. Many kits are available for the DIY person. Add soil and your gardening can begin. To keep a child’s interest, plant quick germinating seed like radishes, marigolds, zucchini, etc. Bedding plants are good options also. Many garden centers have nice varieties of cucumber, zucchini and others in the cucurbita family available in plants. Zucchini will bloom and produce quickly, you can practically watch them grow! How exciting for young gardeners to get a quick harvest.
The rest of our young family are also farming, country dwellers. They like gardening too and growing favorite produce. We share a large sweet corn patch and the location changes each year. A special corn planter is used to plant the sweet corn seed. Three little people, 9, 5 and 2 years old, know where the patch is! As the ears develop , we keep a close watch and thus a wildlife lesson begins for them. They know the raccoons will start tasting the sweet corn before it’s ready and destroy the patch. We have their assistance setting up the electric fence to keep it safe. They are the hero’s that help keep the critter’s away ! In August, all the work and careful watch, has produced a bounty of sweet corn to be picked, shucked and frozen with their help, on our annual Corn Party day. Priceless!
Fairy gardens are a popular project to create with children. Invite the kids to use little animals, characters, cars, tractors or a any miniature favorite. Make a trip to the garden center for itty bitty plants and colorful succulents. Bowl type pots work well for planting, as well as, wheelbarrows or birdbaths. If planting a combination of small annuals and succlulents use regular potting soil for the medium. Fertilizer is not needed as slow growth is desired. Fairy gardens come to life by using moss to cover soil when arrangement is complete. Hide a fairy to keep watch over your new, enchanted garden. Stam’s Greenhouse in Oskaloosa has a fairy garden that is set up like a village with pathways, streams, cottages, bridges, wildlife, fairies and amazing plants. A great place to visit with children. Many garden centers offer classes to create a fairy garden project. They provide accessories, amazing succulent and mini sized plants to complete a setting.
May the wonders of gardening, nature and spending time with children never end. We are so thankful to have the opportunity. I appreciate the attention the media has given this new campaign toward “knowing where your food comes from.” Hopefully, you too can appreciate the simple wonders of growing a garden with children.
Gerri Lyon is a Master Gardener.