Gardening with your children is a wonderful way to bond with them, and it’s also time that your children can spend enjoying the outdoors and learning about how plants work, instead of staring at a screen. And children who garden eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers, so gardening with your kids is definitely a win-win! Here are 4 fun ways to nurture your children’s fledgling green thumbs.
1. Plant Colorful Vegetables
Studies published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association have found that kids who grow their vegetables eat up to twice as much fruits and vegetables as their peers. Growing vegetables can be fun for kids, especially if you choose “quirky” varieties with unexpected shaped or colors. The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension recommends a few fun veggies for kids to grow, including “yellow pear” cherry tomatoes, which is a plant that produces yellow fruit, “purple queen” beans, which is a bush bean that doesn’t require any stake or pole and produces purple beans, and red carrots (see photo above). There are also blue potatoes, which are pretty fun for kids at harvest time.
2. Use Crafts to Attract Butterflies
Butterflies are beautiful visitors to your garden that are also fascinating to children, and it’s fun for kids to make their own project to attract butterflies and watch for their guests to arrive. When the butterflies come, you can use information from your local university to help your child recognize which species is enjoying his or her handiwork. You can also build simple bird feeders or perches with your child to attract winged guests of the avian variety. For mom and dad, here are some garden plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
3. Plant Easy-to-Grow Flowers
It’s very rewarding for people of all ages to plant a flower and watch it grow and bloom. Some flowers are ideal for kids because they’re easy to grow, they’re interesting or cool, they’re fast-growing so kids are rewarded quickly, or all of the above. The Colorado State University Extension has a few recommendations, including nasturtium (see photo above), which is fun for kids because it’s pretty, it’s edible, and it’s hard to kill. Sunflowers are also a great choice because they’re very hardy and they grow rapidly to impressive heights, with the bonus of yummy edible seeds. Marigolds are also hardy and easy to plant and grow, and they keep nematodes away from your tomato plants if you plant them alongside your tomatoes, so they offer you a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about companion plants and organic pest control.
4. Try some Fun Mini-Projects
There are also limitless creative gardening projects that you can do with your kids that will let them see just how much fun gardening can be, while they’re learning at the same time. Sneaky, no? Here are a few:
- Grow “watercress eggheads” by planting watercress seeds in dampened cotton balls and placing them inside of washed-out eggshells. Your child can decorate the eggshell with a fun face, put it in the window, and watch the green “hair” grow out of the hole that you made in the top of the shell. Click here for an instructional video.
- Build a tiny “fairy garden” with your child, complete with little rock pathways and small plants. This is a fun chance to let your child’s imagination soar!
- Paint clay pots with your child for growing herbs, or flowers such as the marigolds mentioned in the section above.
- Make a worm house with your children to teach them about the essential work that worms do in the soil. They will get to see the worms at work first-hand! For mom and dad, here’s an article about using worm composting to nourish your garden.
- Make a soil bottle terrarium with your child. This is a great way for him or her to learn about both gardening and upcycling.
Enjoy your time together in the garden!