Family Nature

Gardening with Kids 101

The one and only instruction you need for gardening with kids (or gardening at all, really) is this:

  1. Get started.

Think I’m being a smarty-pants? I’m not, honestly. The truth is I know almost nothing about gardening (but learning more every day). No matter how much or how little you know about gardening, just get started and figure it out along the way. That’s what we’re doing.

Sure, it’s nice to have fancy-schmancy gardening books, shiny new tools and trays full of plants at your disposal, but you don’t need any of that to get started.

We moved into this house nearly two years ago (it will be two years in October). When we bought, the house and gardens were impressively maintained by lovely Mrs. H, who owned the house for 50 years. There were beautiful perennial flowers, shrubs and roses – all perfect; not a weed in sight.

Our lot is 40 feet wide. I’d guess our backyard is about 40 x 40. There are three large gardens in the back – one of which is the width of the yard; another one is the width of the house – as well as one in the front. I have never been into gardening so when we moved in I declared that the gardens were Mr. Family Nature’s responsibility and ignored them at first.

Then the spring came, and lots of nice little flowers started popping up and I became moderately interested. There were so many things coming up in the garden that I didn’t know what was what, so we left it all to see what it was. Before long we had a garden full of invasive weeds. We’d pick at it here and there but I always felt like we weren’t very good gardeners. I thought poor old Mrs. H would die on the spot if she ever saw what became of her gardens.

This year we’ve been a bit better. I have to admit, Mr. Family Nature still does most of the dirty work when it comes to gardening but I help out and I give lots of instructions. We certainly wouldn’t win any awards, but I’m pretty happy with how our gardens look. We still have lots of lovely things but we also have some wild flowers and still (probably always) some weeds. I see it as more of a family-friendly-it’s-okay-if-the-soccer-ball-breaks-some-of-the-plants kind of garden.

Also new this year, we’ve put in a small vegetable garden. This is where the kids get super excited. We’re growing beans, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, some kind of squash and pumpkin. The kids LOVE it. I mean, they run out every day to see if there is anything big enough to pick. Or, they’ll be playing in the backyard munching on beans. Our oldest, Yo-yo, teaches and shows the younger ones which tomatoes are ripe and ready to pick. I never thought I’d say this about gardening but I love it!

All of this has lead to something: the kids’ natural curiosity and endless questions have made us *gasp* gardeners! Kind of frugal-fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants-accidental-gardeners; making lots of mistakes along the way; teaching ourselves and the kids as we go. And you know what? We’re having a blast. Stay tuned for pictures and updates.

What does your garden look like?

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10 thoughts on “Gardening with Kids 101

  1. Lisa Marie

    omgosh! LOVE it. It’s so true. i’ve been interested in the idea of gardening for a long time. And I have such great memories of gardening with my dad as a kidlet. This year, I spent most of the winter researching and learning about veggie gardens and as soon as spring hit, we were in full swing.

    We’ve got 2 gardens – a mini one here at home for the kids to check daily (because mine are EXACTLY the same – checking every single day to see the changes!) and a bigger one at the inlaws which we are checking about once a week. Yesterday, they tasted beans fresh from the ” vine” (their words) and I couldn’t believe that my oldest ATE it! 😮 I’m loving it too – and the kids love learning as i am learning too. (like next year, I’m moving the peas to a different spot and giving them their own trellis!)

    We’ve got beans, peas, tomatoes (big and little), pea pods (you know – the ones you put in stirfry?!), peppers, carrots, CORN, pickling cucumbers and regular cucumbers and a few spontaneous pumpkin vines that we’ve been training up a trellis because I don’t have the room for them to overtake the yard!

    Isn’t it amazing to watch!? Can’t wait to see your pictures. 🙂 I should probably post some of mine on my family blog at some point, eh? 🙂

  2. Alexandra

    This advice applies in so many areas of life, from learning about new things to exercise to cooking to saving for retirement. 🙂

  3. Tinea

    I think growing TickleMe Plant is more then just a new craze. My students love it! The leaves instantly fold up and the branches droop when you Tickle It! It is such an easy and fun way to excited kids about nature.
    Everyone needs to grow a TickleMe Plant. It is more like a pet then a plant . Just search TickleMe Plant to see it in action and to grow your own

  4. Amanda

    Ha! I was thinking the same thing, Lisa!

    Yes, I don’t know why, but I guess for a long time I thought that because I didn’t know anything about gardening that I couldn’t (or maybe didn’t want to) do it. I guess I thought it was hard or something.

    That tickle me plant looks neat.

  5. Susana

    We are car-free, and spend all our days walking or cycling; gazing at people’s front gardens is a huge enjoyment for the kids and I. So we are extra grateful to the people who make an effort/care for/love their gardens. Great to hear that your family-friendly plots are coming along 🙂

  6. Sylvia

    Love the fruits of your labour….your little ones must be so proud to use mother earth to grow their own food. My monkey’s and I found white (casper) eggplants on a farm in St. Catherines. We can’t wait to taste it!

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