Gardening with Kids
Cynthia Davis Klemmer, the Children's Education Coordinator at
Massachusetts Horticultural Society, suggests these gardening tips:
- Start small. Window boxes or containers, because of
their small size, can actually turn out to be rather luxurious gardens.
Recycle clean bleach and milk containers. Cut off the tops and use them as
- Be willing to put up with a less-than-perfect looking
garden: crooked rows and weeds are okay.
- Leave an area where kids can dig, even after
planting. This is often their favorite part of gardening. Look for earthworms
- Get some child-sized tools from a local nursery or
garden center. Try to find tools that look genuine so the kids will feel like
real gardeners. Can't afford it? Plastic spoons and shovels work well in
- Make a secret place in the garden for your kids.
Leave a space between the stalks of easy-to-grow sunflowers or bean poles so
they can crawl "inside." Make a chicken wire animal and train ivy around:
- Kids like extremes, so plant huge flowers, like
sunflowers, and small vegetable plants, like cherry tomatoes. Plant fragrant
flowers or herbs like peonies, lavender, and chocolate or pineapple mint. Show
your kids how to rub the herbs between their fingers to get a really good
- Teach your kids how to compost. Find a place behind a
tree, or dig a hole in the ground. Don't add anything that ever swam, walked,
or flew. Toss in rinds and peels from fruit, coffee grounds, tea bags,
eggshells. When it turns black and crumbly (this will take several months) you
can mix it with soil and use this for fertilizer for your garden. Don't forget
to put your gloves on first.
- Look in the children's section of your library or bookstore for both
how-to books and storybooks. Two excellent how-to books are: Ready, Set, Grow by Suzanne
Frutig Bales, (teaches youngsters about specific plants), and Kids Garden!: The Anytime, Anyplace Guide to Sowing and Growing Fun, Vol. 13 by Avery Hart and Paul Mantell (includes gardening activities for kids ages 4 and up).
- If you're interested in more organized children's programs, check
with local parks departments or public gardens to see what they offer.