Gardening with Kids

Give your child a corner of the garden

Even very small children can learn to love gardening by starting with a small corner of the garden to call their own. Beyond the thrill of seeing the first leaves break the surface of the soil, children can learn to appreciate the environment and their part in responsible stewardship and have fun doing it.

Because kids want to interact with everything they do, it's important for them to be able to start their plants from seed, care for them, and harvest them. And often just the opportunity to spend time with you is all it takes to turn the chores like weeding into an opportunity to talk and just enjoy each other's company.

Planting for success

As with any garden, a sunny location, regular watering, and well-prepared beds are the key to success. Plants that are well suited to children include the following:

Plant Cultivation Requirements Other info
Potatoes Start with seed potatoes. Cut into chunks, each with one eye. When plants start to get large, mound soil around the base to make small hills. Plant in sunny location, well-drained soil about 15 inches apart. Harvest the potatoes after the foliage starts to die back. (You can also pull plants up during the growing season if you don't mind small new potatoes.)
Beans Start seeds in small pots. Transplant into garden when danger of last frost is past. Plant in sunny location. Well-drained soil about 6 inches apart. For vining beans, create structural support and tie to get them started climbing.

Plant the corn in a 2 ft. square.

Plant the beans at the base of the corn so they can climb the cornstalks.

Plant the squash outside the ring of beans.

Together they will provide each other nutrients and enrich the soil.

Corn Start seeds in small pots. Transplant into garden when danger of last frost is past. Plant in sunny location. Well-drained soil about 12 inches apart. For vining beans, create structural support and tie to get them started climbing.
Squash Start seeds in small pots. Transplant into garden when danger of last frost is past. Plant in open sunny location where they can sprawl. Squash can be trained to climb a structural support to free up room.
Peas Start seeds in small pots. Transplant into garden when danger of last frost is past. Plant in sunny location. Well-drained soil about 12 inches apart. For vining peas, tie them as they grown to structural support. Watch out for slugs. Small boys in particular enjoy killing slugs. Take advantage of this.
Tomatoes Start seeds in small pots. Transplant into garden when danger of last frost is past. Plant in sunny location with well-drained soil. Space about 24 inches apart. Add a cage or support for indeterminate varieties before they get too large. Sit on back porch and pick tomatoes together. Share the salt shaker. Eat warm from the sun.
Peanuts Direct sow seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep 6 to 8 inches apart after all danger of frost is past. Grow in loose well-drained soil. Cultivate and weed soil around base of plants to keep soil loose. They require a 120 days to reach maturity. Harvest in early fall when foliage starts to yellow. To harvest, dig up plants with a spading fork and shake off soil. Hang plants in a warm, dry shed or garage to cure the peanuts for several weeks. Pull pods off and continue to dry. After about a month, you can roast the peanuts. Make PB&J.
Parsley Start seeds in small pots. Transplant into garden when danger of last frost is past. Plant in a sunny location. Interplant with flowers or other herbs and vegetables. Use sprigs in cooking projects or as garnish.
Marigolds Start seeds in small pots. Transplant into garden when danger of last frost is past. Plant in a sunny location. Interplant with flowers or other herbs and vegetables.  
Sweet peas Start seeds in small pots. Transplant into garden when danger of last frost is past. Plant in sunny location. Well-drained soil about 12 inches apart. For vining peas, tie them as they grown to structural support. Watch out for slugs. Encourage kids to cut bouquets regularly to encourage bloom time.
Nasturtiums Direct sow if possible. You can start seeds in small pots then transplant, but nasturtiums prefer not being transplanted. Plant in a sunny location. Poor soil is okay; nasturtiums are very forgiving. Soil that is too rich produces lush leaves and few flowers. Use flowers and leaves in salad.

Books


Make more time for gardening with your kids. Hire a carpenter through ContractorNexus to help with the trellis projects.

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