To get kids excited about gardening, let them help you with your gardening tasks. Pulling weeds, digging, and picking vegetables are great activities for kids. Be sure to make it fun and not a chore. Encourage them to look at the plants and flowers and ask questions.
Following are a few activities that can help jumpstart your children’s love of gardening. The possibilities are endless; the kids will probably come up with neat ideas for their own projects.
Make a Sunflower House
Growing a sunflower house is a very cool way to get children engaged in gardening. Sunflowers form the walls and ceilings of these living houses.
1. Prepare the soil
In the spring when the soil is warm enough to work, stake out a square in the sun that is six feet on each side. Loosen and turn over the soil in a foot-wide path along the edge of the square. Leave two feet of soil unturned on the north side for a doorway. Mix a generous amount of compost or aged manure into the soil because sunflowers are heavy feeders.
2. Plant the seeds
When night temperatures reach 50 degrees, it’s time to plant the sunflower seeds. Choose a sunflower variety with strong stems that grows to twelve feet high. Sow the seeds in the worked soil, placing two seeds in holes that are one foot apart.
3. Grow the sunflowers
When the seedlings are about six inches high, snip off the weaker of the two. Pulling the weak one out can damage the roots of the remaining plants, that’s why it’s better to snip the seedling off than to pull it out.
Spread mulch around the sunflowers to keep weeds down and conserve water. Water as needed.
4. Shape the roof
Start shaping the roof when your sunflowers are six feet tall. Gently tie baling twine about one foot below a flower on one of the plants. Pull the twine slowly, moving the stem toward the plant opposite it. Loop the twine around the stem of the opposite plant. Carefully pull the two plants together until the tops meet; knot the twine to hold them together. Tie all the pairs together until the roof is complete.
This blog has a great post with more details.
Grow a Theme Garden
Why not plan and plant a garden with your children around a theme that they like? How about a pizza garden with tomatoes, basil, oregano, and green peppers? (You’ll have to buy the crust, the pepperoni, and the cheese!) Or plant a red garden that produces red fruits, flowers, and vegetables all summer. If your teenagers are reading Shakespeare in school you could work together to research and plant flowers mentioned in his plays. Or you could grow a garden with all their favorite foods. The possibilities are endless.
Start Worm Composting
Worms are fascinating to most kids. It’s easy to set up your own worm composting system in your house. The whole family can see how worms turn kitchen waste into compost.
- Fill a plastic bin or wooden box (with holes in the bottom) with damp (not soaking wet) shredded paper and cardboard for bedding.
- Add red worms, also called red wrigglers. Unfortunately the earthworms from your garden won’t live in this setup. You can order red wrigglers online or get them from a bait shop.
- Chop up leftovers and tuck them under the bedding. Fruits and vegetables, grains, and pasta work great, but meat and dairy products don’t.
- Watch the worms transform your kitchen scraps into castings, which you can use to feed your garden or your houseplants.
Let Children Plant Seeds
The first time a child plants a seed and watches it grow it’s like watching magic. When you sow seeds with kids use fail-safe seeds that grow quickly, like marigolds and radishes. Even young children can put the seeds in the ground, cover them, and water them. What a way to teach kids about life!
Here’s a video with some good ideas about planting seeds from the fruits that you buy at the grocery store!
Want to learn more and gardening ideas for children?
You can find more great ideas for gardening projects for kids online. Here are a few good sites:
The National Gardening Association has a terrific program called Gardening With Kids with lots of ideas and information.