One of the most rewarding experiences a parent and child can share together is planting and watching something grow out of the fruits of their own labor. Starting a family garden with your children is not only valuable bonding time, but is also a green way to teach your children about where foods come from, how to care for plants and how much better organically grown foods are for you. Regardless of how much space you have to work with or how much time you have on your hands, starting a garden with your children is relatively simple and can be done in a way that is convenient for you and your family.
Determine whether you will start your family garden from seed or from small plants at the home and garden store. If you choose to start from seed — as many parents do when teaching their children about gardening — be sure to carefully till the ground where you will be planting, mixing in some moist organic potting soil to help prepare the ground. Also, be sure the location you select for your garden is in a well-lit area that is easy to access for watering. Follow the directions for planting according to the instructions on the back of your seeding packets.
Your children will take more ownership and responsibility for their part of the family garden if they choose the foods they plant. If you are starting a large family garden, consider giving your children a small corner of the garden to plant whatever they wish. Potatoes, for example, are fun for kids to plan, as young hands enjoy plowing through the dirt at harvest time to look for these “underground treasures.”
Also, if you want to fertilize your family garden, but do not want to use chemical fertilizers and other unnatural methods of growing your plants, use the opportunity as a time to teach your children about composting. Although the process can be time-consuming, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, composting has the ability to help eliminate wastes while also destroying nearly all volatile organic chemicals that may be contaminating the air around your garden.
Container gardening is a fast and efficient way to start a family garden with your children if you have space limitations or very young children who are unable to help you dig and pull weeds in your garden. Container gardens work well on both a small and large scale. You may want to start by planting herbs, such as dill and thyme, in a window sill, or perhaps you could let your children select some colorful flower pots at the local home and gardening store to plant some vegetables in outdoors. Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and lettuce, grow very well in flower pots. Just be sure to avoid planting foods that are too large for flower pots, such as squash, zucchini and beets.