Have you read How to Start and STICK with Gardening? This is basically the same thing but… with kids!
The steps below mirror the steps for establishing the garden on your own, only they are the kid-friendly version of the hard work you’ll be doing. These steps are also applicable for those who already have a garden but are creating a new space to involve their little gardeners.
Here’s how you can get kids involved in each step of the process.
Step 1: Set a goal with your little one.
This might be a goal of watering the plants everyday. No time to garden daily? Check out this article on how to garden despite having little time. You can also keep it fun and simple by just having a goal to grow one plant or maybe just one pepper. Whatever gets them excited – go with that!
Step 2: Action Steps – Talk about how to complete their goal.
Watering daily? Create a checklist to put on the fridge and check it off or fill it in with a sticker. Growing one plant? Research to find out what it needs.
Step 3: Location
Have your youngster draw or paint pictures of the yard in its current state. They could include the sun and pictures of animals in your area.
Step 4: Design
Then, have them draw or paint a picture of what your garden will look like after the plants are established and it’s thriving.
Steps 5 and 6: Build It, Buy It, Start It
Have them help you move the soil and compost around inside the container, raised bed, row, or whatever you decided on.
Step 7: Decide What to Plant
Best seeds for little hands (because they are the largest seeds):
- *Swiss chard
- any bulbs, such as garlic
*Both beet and Swiss chard seeds are actually seed balls containing several seeds which is why they are larger than most seeds of edibles. You will need to thin these after they sprout.
Fastest growing veggies to keep kids interested:
These all mature between 20 – 50 days. Most are cool season crops that can be grown in spring and fall in many climates, with the exception of summer squash and beans, which are warm season crops grown in the summer.
- lettuce: Magenta (48 days) – head here for several fast-maturing varieties
- radish: Cherry Belle (24 days), French Breakfast (28 days), Easter Egg (25 – 40 days)
- spinach: Bloomsdale (28-for baby/45 for mature), Butterfly (40 days)
- pac choy: Shanghai Green (25 for baby/45 for mature)
- arugula: Astro (21 for baby/40 for mature)
- Japanese buckwheat (49 days) – The bees love this one!
- mustard greens: Tatsoi (43 days)
- summer squash: Early Prolific Straightneck (48 days)
- bush Beans – make sure they are bush and not pole (around 50)
- microgreens – These are excellent for the youngest of your bunch because they are ready to harvest in 5-10 days! As an added bonus, it’s a fun way to eat more greens. You can sprinkle them on salads, baked potatoes, mac-n-cheese and so much more. Here is some great information on micro-greens and a few seed packets you can purchase!
A guaranteed hit with kids:
- English peas – So far, from 4 year olds to fourth graders, I haven’t met a kid that didn’t LOVE to eat these off the vine. (around 60 days)
Step 8: Spacing
Create a grid to help your kids visualize the spacing needed for each plant. This is a great idea using plywood, but you could also cut holes in cardboard, posterboard or even copy paper.
Step 9: Planting
They plant the seeds!
Step 10: Observing
Create a garden journal! Here is a fun tutorial for creating one with pockets using brown paper bags – you know how those two year olds love their rock collections. They can draw pictures of their plant and keep garden “treasures” right inside their journal. 😉
I hope these suggestions for getting kids involved in gardening are helpful. Check out my Pinterest board, Kids in the Garden, for more gardening activities for kids. Then, head over to my board Gardening Books for Kids to see some awesome books on gardening for youngsters.
If you are finding gardening with youngsters to be a bit of a challenge, for whatever reason, check out Ways to Garden with Kids (Without Going Insane).