Starting a Garden with Your Kids


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Managing a garden is a great way for kids to learn responsibility and care of the earth. Here's how we got started with growing from seed.

Most of my life I had a brown thumb.  I never really tried to grow anything, though my parents and grandparents all had pretty spectacular gardens and knew fancy words like “Pachysandra.”

I was overwhelmed by the gardens at our house when spring hit and all the snow melted to reveal a TON of garden space, most of which hadn’t been tended in quite a while.  Slowly, I learned my way around.  I planted lots of plants.  Some made it.  Some didn’t.  Some were just huge mistakes and had to be moved or just tossed in the woods.

Last summer I started my very first edible garden and now I’m hooked.  Miss O, who was 4 at the time, showed a passing interest in gardening.  Basically, she wanted to eat peas right out of the shell.  She loved watching everything grow, but she didn’t have the patience to tend it.

This year is different.  We’ve been talking about starting her very own garden this year.  She insists on calling it her PJ Masks garden, though I still don’t know what she means by that.

And while I don’t mind spending money on plants, she seemed fascinated by my tomato seeds, end even took over the job of watering them (even though she doesn’t like tomatoes), I decided to start her garden with seed.  It’s also cheaper so if she ends up killing everything I’ll only be out $10.

Five-year-olds are pretty fickle and energetic, as you know if you have one.  So, getting her to sit down and actually plant the seeds was a bit of a challenge.  At first she wanted to go outside, then stay in, then go outside… We eventually settled on going outside with her Cinderella dress on over her jammies.

Managing a garden is a great way for kids to learn responsibility and care of the earth. Here's how we got started with growing from seed.

We’re planting annuals for a couple of reasons.  They’re more forgiving of errors, they’re cheaper, and I won’t get stuck with a bunch of half-dead plants next year.  Also because we’re going to be planting in a unique container (more on that in a couple of weeks) and I don’t want it hanging around with a bunch of perennials forever.

Managing a garden is a great way for kids to learn responsibility and care of the earth. Here's how we got started with growing from seed.

I found this amazing tray at Home Depot, but you can also get it on Amazon*.  Ours has 36 peat pellets that expand when you add water, then you just plant your seeds and cover.  Miss O got bored about halfway through, but I reminded her that having a garden is hard work, and if she wants one, she’ll have to do it herself.

Managing a garden is a great way for kids to learn responsibility and care of the earth. Here's how we got started with growing from seed.

I taped the seed packets to the top in order so we’d know what we planted, where.  The seeds are currently in our foyer, out of direct sunlight until they sprout, then we’ll move them to the windowsill before hardening them off.  Miss O loves to check on them every day to see if anything’s growing and can’t wait to plant them in her container.

Managing a garden is a great way for kids to learn responsibility and care of the earth. Here's how we got started with growing from seed.

She’s so excited to see sprouts after only a few days!

The container will help her feel more ownership and give her a clearly defined space that she’s responsible for.  If she picks all her flowers, her garden will be bare.  If she doesn’t pick any, it make get overrun.  She’ll also know what’s hers so she stays out of my gardens.  I tend to be a bit OCD about my plants.  It took me a long time to be able to manage them, and I don’t have the skills to bring them back if she does something unfriendly.

But mostly, I don’t want her to get overwhelmed like I did.  Her garden the perfect size to grow a nice mix of flowers and look pretty.  Exactly what a budding gardener needs for inspiration and motivation.

Managing a garden is a great way for kids to learn responsibility and care of the earth. Here's how we got started with growing from seed.

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