“Gardening allows children to connect with nature and each other. They are touching, seeing, smelling, hearing, and at harvest time, tasting nature. Children who engage in gardening become immersed in a world that does not judge.” - Growing Kiwi Gardeners
Working in a garden helps connect children with life’s natural seasons, teaches them where food comes from and awakens wonder and awe at watching a plant grow from seed to vegetable, flower or fruit. You can also get as scientific as your child would like and go more deeply into photosynthesis and the biology of plants.
Children as young as two can begin helping in the garden. They can help rake and dig and look for worms, caterpillars and butterflies. With a parent’s help they can plant seeds, water the plants and watch them grow. And of course, at harvest time they can pull up their little radishes, beets and carrots.
It’s a good idea to plan out your garden with your children. Draw a picture of your garden beds then choose together what to plant and where. This is a great activity for winter time, and then in late August seeds can be raised indoors and kept on a sunny windowsill waiting to be planted out in spring.
There are also lots of marvellous books to get children excited about their garden. Some of our favourites include What’s inside a flower by Penguin Books, We are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner. These books are filled with inspiring ideas for gardening with children, including planning and planting a garden, what happens when things go wrong, and the joy of eating what you’ve grown.
Gardening is not limited to families who live in the country or even in a more suburban area. If you live in a city and don’t have a backyard, here are some urban gardening ideas to try with your kids:
- Plant flowers around the base of trees in your area, or find out if a local church or community centre has a community garden that you could help look after. We have one right outside where our children sing in a choir.
- Plant window boxes or grow sprouts on a windowsill
- Plant a planter or large pot outside your front door on a sunny porch or stoop (perfect for cherry tomatoes in Summer)
- Grow a herb garden in your kitchen (Harvest mint for tea and herbs for soup).
Children are naturally drawn to growing things from seeds, so gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. To begin with you will need a few packets of seeds and a bag of seed raising mix. Once it’s time to plant the seedlings out you’ll need a bag of compost (or use your own if you have any) to dig through your garden bed/patch of dirt. Then you’ll just need sunshine, water and some patience.