Urban Garden Denver Blog

Children and Gardening

Gardening with children isn’t any fun if you are always worried about your kids or your flowers. Here are a few tips for a mutually beneficial gardening experience:

Designate a part of the garden for your kids. Release control of what they do with that space (within the boundaries of safety). They may decide to dig holes, collect rocks, look for bugs, plant sticks or they might actually be interested in growing something.

Let your kids have choices. Offer a couple of alternative flower and vegetable choices that will maximize their chance for success. For example, offer the choice between a cherry tomato plant or squash from seeds. Intermix plantings of annuals from bedding plants (such as marigolds) and from seeds (such as nasturtiums) to offer immediate results. Flowers and vegetables can be planted in the same area, and straight rows are not important, so lighten up!

Use nontoxic insect control. Rather than spraying aphids, buy a bag of ladybugs at the garden center and have your kids help release them in your garden. Plant marigolds around vegetables for a natural insect repellent.

Equip young gardeners with their own tools for their space. Plastic tools are inexpensive and fun, but not durable. Consider investing in more durable, age appropriate tools that are child-sized and useful for gardening.

Grow hardy plants. Kids play outside and balls will be kicked into your flower garden. Short mounded plants are best around kids. Depending on your climate, salvias (sage family), marigolds, lavender and blanket flowers can take a soccer ball hit and still survive.

Find creative gardening space. If your home does not include outdoor space, look for other ways to introduce plants and the natural world into your living space. Have a bucket that your child can use to collect rocks or sticks when you are out on walks. Plant an herb garden in a windowsill or grass seed in a small pot. Germinate bean spouts or alfalfa sprouts and enjoy eating them.

 Copyright © Carla Foote, 2010. First published in MomSense magazine March/April 2006

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