Gardening With Kids

I love waking up on the weekend and looking outside at our vegetable garden to see how much it has grown over the past week while I was at work and out and about.I love to garden, and I made the decision to start teaching Baby Bird about gardening at 21 months old.

It might seem young to some but for us, it is turning out to be a wonderful experience for everyone involved.

Here’s some tips to involving kids in the process:

Don’t get too attached with your garden. You know you, and if you know you are going to freak out if your child pulls a tomato off the plant before it is ready, then wait until they are MUCH older to work with them.

After planting my whole garden, I planted a miniature tomato plant in a pot for our daughter. It sits on our deck so she can walk up to it easily.  When we got our first red tomato, I showed it to her and she got to pick it. She was really proud of herself and asked me to cut it up for her.

After that, there were no more red tomatoes. So, like every impatient child, she pulled a green one. I didn’t get mad, but I told her that we had to wait until they began to turn red or they won’t taste good. I asked if she wanted to try to taste the green one and she did. We agreed that they don’t taste as good as the red ones. She still picks the green ones occasionally, but she is learning.

Plant some fun stuff. In addition to my garden, and her tomato, I planted some strawberries in a planter as well as a bunch of herbs. I showed her that some plants have different tastes to them and I showed her which ones she can try to taste.

I have chocolate mint, oregano, dill, curry and more on the deck. I am constantly amazed at what she absorbs. I was watching her yesterday and she was walking around the herbs and tasting a couple of them. She walked right by the lavender and her tomato plant because I told her that those leaves did not taste good (I told her that three weeks ago).

The trick to doing this though is to know your plants. Don’t plant anything that has poisonous leaves. If Baby Bird eats something in our yard that isn’t a herb, it will just taste bad, but regardless, we are always with her to watch and teach her.

Include your child in the maintenance. Baby Bird loves to water the plants at home. I tell her that plants need water to live and that on dry days they get thirsty just like she does.

Now, you may think “What does a two-year old understand.” I’m telling you, they understand a lot. I was told last week by one of the staff that when Baby Bird goes outside to play, she grabs a pail and waters every flower in the flowerbed that they planted.

My daughter has also helped me to pick the radishes in our garden. She loves radishes and it was a lot of fun for her to go and help mom pull them out of the ground, wash them and cut them up.

The taste doesn’t get any better than that either.

Give them their own area. Once your child has shown a small interest in gardening, you can offer to set them up with their own area. Either a section of your garden, some planters, or a small raised bed will do nicely. Ask them what they want to plant. If they are a little older, you can take them to your local nursery to help pick what type of tomato they want to try. If they are younger, I suggest picking it yourself.

Help them plant their garden and then offer to help them take care of it. Let them take the lead on their space though. You can still remind them that their carrots need picking, but don’t just go and take over. Word it as though you are including them every step of they way. Something like “do you want to pull a carrot to see how big they are getting?” will include them in the process.

Have patience. As with gardening, you need to have patience when sharing what you know with your kids. If you make it truly an enjoyable, learning experience where they can explore and learn both with you and on their own, then they will pick it up – if they enjoy it. You may find out that your child does not want to garden in which case, you move on to the next thing.

This is what we’ve done so far and it seems to be working well. Time will tell if she decides it’s something that interests her, but so far all I have to say is “Let’s go check to see if there are any red strawberries” and she will drop what ever she is doing and follow me outside.

Sheri Landry

Sheri publishes, and writes at This Bird’s Day where she shares all of the thoughts in her head without the voices. Sticking mainly with content for Canadians, Sheri shares family stories, product information and anything that fits into her (and her family’s) daily activities.

Found in Gardening, Kids
22 comments… add one
  • Growing Strawberries Fan Jul 23, 2010, 12:45 pm

    Great post. I love the whole site, especially the design. Gardening is such a fun, especially growing strawberries.

  • Jenn In Edmonton AB Jul 19, 2010, 12:14 pm

    Fun post! I love your tip – don’t get too attached to your garden! Haha! Learning that one =O) My little one loves those baby tomatoes you pictured the best!

  • Kathleen B. Jul 13, 2010, 6:55 pm

    This is a great post! I should try this, maybe my boys would be better gardeners than me. If it is a plant, I kill it. With the exception of two air plants which I have not found a way to put an end to yet. When I was younger, my dad asked me to weed the garden, I pulled up all the carrot plants that had just sprouted tops lol.

  • Paula Jul 13, 2010, 6:43 pm

    I’ve just started gardening. I have 3 tomato plants. All 3 of my kids help me water them. I’ve got little green ones starting to show up on my plants. It’s exciting to me! I have some herbs I need to get planted this week as well.

  • Abby Jul 13, 2010, 6:11 pm

    I agree about not getting attached to your plants. My son who is almost 3 is kind of clumsy so he tends to step on things. He loves helping in the garden!

  • Henrietta Jul 13, 2010, 5:55 pm

    MMM those tomatoes look so fresh and delicious! We always try to plant at least a small patch. This year the weeds are trying to overtake everything but we are managing to get a few zucchini and the rest of the plants are growing well! My daughter’s pumpkin plants even have a few babies on them :)

    • Sheri Jul 13, 2010, 6:03 pm

      I spent 4 hours weeding our garden a couple of weekends ago and my mom spent another couple of hours last week. I would love to show my daughter how to weed, but she would end up pulling everything out so that lesson will wait for another few years.

  • Shawn Ann @ Shawn Ann's World Jul 13, 2010, 4:42 pm

    We planted our first garden (food) this year and our son who will be 5 in a couple days helped us plant a lot of the veggies. He actually planted almost all veggies that came from seeds (carrots, beans, peas, & broccoli) and helped plant the actual plants for most of the others (strawberries, tomatoes, green peppers, blueberry bushes, and more broccoli plants). We’ve found that he not only enjoys being apart of the “growing” process and even seems to eat the veggies & fruits more when they come from a garden (even a farm) than from the local store.

    • Sheri Jul 13, 2010, 6:04 pm

      I agree, our daughter loves fruit and vegetables as it is, but since she is more eager to eat the ones that come from the garden.

  • Tammy Jul 13, 2010, 4:29 pm

    I love gardening with my daughter. She’s a little tough on the plants when we are planting, but she loves it.

    • Sheri Jul 13, 2010, 6:04 pm

      And that is the most important thing, that she enjoys it.

  • Staci A Jul 13, 2010, 4:08 pm

    Great tips! I learned the hard way not to get attached to my plants. My son has always wanted to pick flowers or veggies the second he sees them. Even at 5, it’s still tough for him to wait until they are actually ready to be picked. But we love it, and it’s a great learning experience.

    Our best results have been with mini terrariums. We have 3 growing in the kitchen right now.

    • Sheri Jul 13, 2010, 6:05 pm

      I’ll have to try those, right now my daughter loves a certain weed so I let her pull as much as she wants ;)

  • Bethany Larrabee Jul 13, 2010, 4:07 pm

    I was going to take my 2 year old strawberry picking, but thought better of it, maybe I shouldn’t have.

  • erin @themombuzz Jul 13, 2010, 3:52 pm

    WE planted tomatoes, but the boys always pluck them too early. We have pumpkins which are doing good. We have strawberries which they love plucking and eating. Hmmm… and we have a citrus plant – its name is not coming to me now. But it’s small and they like to pluck and eat those too.

  • Kim @ What's That Smell? Jul 13, 2010, 3:16 pm

    Wow great photos! My daughter is 2 1/2 and we just planted pumpkins and sunflowers. They just sprouted and it’s exciting to look every day and see how much they have grown.

    • Sheri Landry Sheri Landry Apr 6, 2014, 8:29 pm

      My daughter is the same. There is way better buy in for eating healthy as well.

  • Tima Jul 13, 2010, 3:13 pm

    Another fun gardening project is to grow a TickleMe Plant. I think its more then just a craze and will be grown for year to come. It is just a fun and educational way to teach kinds about the plants and the magic of nature.

    • Sheri Landry Sheri Landry Apr 6, 2014, 8:28 pm

      This is a great idea. I need to Google this plant to try. Thanks.

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