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Stuff Kids Love to Grow
Kids love to do what you do so let them be kids in the garden and plant stuff they love to grow.
I had girls that were in the garden with me when they could sit up. They are grown now. I started the boys the same way. They are 9, 11, and 13 now.
At first they just played in a corner of the garden and then when they got a bit older they would help plant by placing dirt around the roots of what we were planting or help to place seeds in cell packs and watering them. Now they do all manner of gardening with us from planting, digging, weeding and even hauling things for us with the mower and a sled.
If you have kids you want to teach about gardening I suggest you start them young. They will want to be there with you as toddlers and you will get them accustomed to being there. They will learn to love it and want to be there every time. Especially when you let them plant what they love to grow.
Here are some ideas for the kids in your garden that they will love to grow:
As toddlers it is hard to keep them from stepping on everything, but try to keep it fun even when they do. Pick them up, swing them around, and laugh, but let them know that they need to stay out of the planting area and in the walking paths. Remember the old thing about “step on a crack”? Make it a game for them to stay out of the planting areas. They will catch on quickly if it is fun for them.
Here are a few things toddlers can help you plant and grow:
• Cherry tomatoes – these are great even in containers and the kids will love to pick and eat them right off the vine. These come in a variety of colors so let your kids choose which they like best.
• Strawberries – What kid does not like strawberries. Even my picky eater loves them. They are perennials so make sure you put them somewhere they can stay for a very long time. They do also grow well in containers.
• Hardy Kiwi – This is something kids don’t see or eat a lot of. They are about the size of a grape but are like the fuzzy kiwi you see in the store. They are quite yummy and something unusual for the kids to grow. They will grow in cooler places as well and also do well in containers.
• Mini Bell Peppers – Kids don’t always like bell peppers, but these little guys are so cute you might get them to try them. They come in a variety of colors just like their larger counterparts, but do great in containers and are absolutely adorable. One seed per container and let them water and care for them. Kids do tend to eat what they grow and these are really good for them. Just don’t tell them that.
As my children got older they could take on a bit more responsibility in the garden and still enjoyed what they were doing. My boy “J” and our “Lil D” are a riot to have in the garden. Always keep it fun for them and for you. Just being with you will make them happy. Kids just want to be like you.
Here are some more plants that older kids love to grow and can help you grow or even just grow for themselves:
• Grapes – Grapes are delicious and most kids love them. They are generally started as a plant and need a trellis so you will definitely have to help them with this one, but it is a great way to get them started planting and not just starting seeds. Once they see them start climbing they will be so excited to taste the product of their own labor.
• Carrots – Carrots are started as seeds and can easily be grown in a container. Around here we have to do these in containers because our dirt is hard and won’t let them go deep. If we do start them in the garden it is the small ones. You can let them pick the kind they want and them plant the seeds themselves. When they pull the first one from the dirt their eyes get so big with surprise and the smiles are AWESOME. Then when they get that first bite of sweetness they are hooked.
• Watermelon – This one is super popular with all of our kids, girls and boys alike. Sometimes they want the small, individual ones like Sugar Baby, but sometimes the giant ones are the choice for the year, like Moon and Stars. We have grown yellow ones, orange ones, red ones and even white ones like Cream of Saskatchewan. Let them choose what they want to try. Make a mound or grow the small ones in containers, and plant three seeds to a hill or container. They will vine out several feet, but the melons are amazing when you grow them yourself. If they choose the large ones they will be surprised at how large something they grew got and want to do it again.
• Gourds – If you have kids that are into crafts, or if you are, then gourds are an awesome idea. You can grow luffa sponges, or birdhouse gourds or even bushel basket gourds that you can actually use. This is a fun one and we will definitely be doing it again this year. They do vine out quite a bit so leave plenty of room for the babies to grow.
• Potatoes – This would be more for kids that are between 8 and 10. A knife is needed, or not, depending on how you want to go about it. If you prefer you can cut them up and just let the kids plant them. You can plant the whole potato and the ones that grow tend to be a bit larger. Or you can cut them up with two eyes to a piece, dip them in sulphur powder to prevent rotting, and plant every four feet or so. These do have greens that grow up, but you will not see the potatoes. At first the kids may think there are none, but when they pull the plant out of the ground, or dig it up, they will see that they have produced yummy fries and mashed potatoes all by themselves. YUM.
Teens are a pickle I tell ya. They are sometimes hard to figure out. But if you started them in the garden young, most likely they will, even as a teenager, want to be there with you. We have one that loves cucumbers too!
Here are some ideas for teens that aren’t so much into planting, but want to feel more grown up.
• If you have boys that are big and strong like my boy “T” is they can help you carry things or move them around. He also loves to drive the mower around and wants to haul things to the garden for me. I am good with that. Once he gets them out there he helps unload and even dumps the mulch or dirt that we are adding to the planting areas for me.
• Have them help you mulch your plants once they are in the ground. Mine are a big help when it comes to that.
• Weeding is another big job, and although they don’t like it any more than we do, they will help out with it because on a homestead things need to be done like them or not and they are still spending time with you (where their friends won’t see them).
Teens can also still plant things they love to eat. Here are some other ideas for them to grow:
• Cucumbers – as mentioned above we have one grandson that loves cucumbers. They are easy to plant but do best on a trellis so get them to help you build that as well. They will feel more grown up and like you are treating them as an adult when they get to wield the hammer and use nails or steeples.
• Other melons – You can try other melons. They are already sure they love watermelons and would most likely be willing to try some new ones like honeydew or cantaloupe. Check out some new ones and see what they think about them. They are more likely to try new things when you let them pick and plant them.
• Onions and Garlic – Most kids are not much into these two great plants, but know that they make things taste better so are willing to give it a shot. When they see the huge leaves that come from the small bulbs they enjoy planting them. They are easy to plant to. Make a row, put them in and over them, but leave the tips showing.
As the plants grow so does your child’s love of gardening. They will start out loving it just because you are there. Then as they learn how to grow they will grow in personality and love of the great outdoors. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that they will learn things most of their friends don’t know and they can begin loving to teach. Gardening is also a great workout so let your kids know that every movement builds muscles (and minds).
There is more great information on the subject on MomLifeHappyLife.com with posts about Healthy Habits for kids and How to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables. Check them out too!!!